“Separate Ways”: Journey bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith fired from the band

Journey has undergone a major shakeup to its lineup: Original bassist Ross Valory and longtime drummer Steve Smith have been fired from the band.

According to a press release, founding guitarist Neal Schon and longtime keyboardist Jonathan Cain ousted Valory and Smith from the group while simultaneously filing a lawsuit against them.  They allege Ross and Steve attempted “an ill-conceived corporate coup d’état” by trying to gain control of one of the Journey’s corporate entities, Nightmare Productions, in an effort to gain control over the band’s name.

The suit charges Smith and Valory with “sowing discord among the band members by engaging in self-dealing and selfishly putting their interests ahead of the band’s,” and claims that the defendants schemed “to possess the rights to the Journey name and be paid without actually performing.” The suit seeks more than $10 million in damages.

The lawsuit also notes in 1985, Schon, Cain and singer Steve Perry signed a trademark license agreement that, through Nightmare Productions, provided an “irrevocable license” of the Journey name to the three musicians.

According to the suit, after Perry left the band, he entered into an agreement in 1998 that gave Schon and Cain “sole, exclusive, irrevocable right to control the Journey Mark, including the Journey name.”

The complaint claims that on Tuesday, March 3, Smith and Valory were sent letter informing them “that they are no longer members of Journey; and that Schon and Cain have lost confidence in both of them and are not willing to perform with them again.”

Schon, Cain and longtime lead singer Arnel Pineda will continue on with Journey, with top musicians replacing Smith and Valory.

The band is scheduled to launch a major North American tour with The Pretenders on May 15 in Ridgefield, Washington.

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