Gregg Rolie Says ‘Journey Through Time’ Was ‘Improperly Released’
Journey Through Time was released in May by Frontiers Records in both audio and DVD formats and included a benefit concert from Feb. 9, 2018, at the Independent in San Francisco that raised funds for victims of California wildfires.
The show found Schon and Rolie performing a set focused mainly on the band's earliest work with a lineup that also included current Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, former touring Journey bassist Marco Mendoza and keyboardist John Varn. Rolie now says he never signed off on a separate physical release.
These explosive charges were leveled in an official letter involving another matter from attorney Gary Stiffelman of GSS Law in Tarzana, California. Rolie is also asking France's Guitare en Scene festival to issue refunds after a Journey Through Time concert scheduled for tonight was abruptly canceled.
Rolie became alarmed when the festival's initial advertising made it seem as if Journey would perform, rather than the offshoot band. The concert was properly listed on the group's website and Bandsintown, but Guitare en Scene's promotional material had "Journey" in a much larger font than "Through Time."
"Mr. Rolie is quite concerned over the deceptive marketing, misuse and intentional misappropriation of his name and likeness, and misleading announcement and ticketing that purported to promote an exclusive 'Journey' appearance after 15 years of absence from the European market under the name 'Journey Through Time,'" Stiffelman wrote this week in a letter to the organizers of Guitare en Scene.
"On or before June 12, 2023," Stiffelman added, "Mr. Rolie and his team had made it abundantly clear to Mr. Schon, Mrs. Schon and all involved in the process that he would not participate in an event due to a number of concerns including the risk of deceiving fans, not fairly paying other working musicians and an improperly released album sharing the same title Journey Through Time."
Rolie is worried that the original Journey Through Time benefit concert's nonprofit intent has been forgotten. Stiffelman also said Schon was reportedly paid "at least $100,000" for the canceled appearance in France, while fans were stiffed. They are considering a "selection of local counsel in France" if refunds aren't offered.
"Mr. Rolie remains concerned that Mr. Schon is furthering the promotion of a live album and DVD Neal Schon released via Frontier[s] records without obtaining appropriate licenses or permissions of the performing artists and songwriters/music publishing owners," Stiffelman wrote, "and without remuneration to the artists, or the intended beneficiary, a California wildfire victims relief fund, of the recorded 2018 event."
Unlike Schon and Jonathan Cain, Rolie retains control of his publishing. He'd have to sign off on issuing covers of original co-written songs like "Feeling That Way/Anytime," "Of a Lifetime" and "Just the Same Way" – all of which appear on Journey Through Time.
"As the last of the remaining songwriters and original band members to have not sold off their rights, [Rolie] continues to own his catalog, and intends to protect those works, the legacy and brand of 'Journey,' or his name and likeness from being used to harm or divide others," Stiffelman argued. The letter referenced the "already acrimonious and fractured relationship among Journey’s remaining principals," while arguing that Journey has a "duty to their fans and legacy to unite and [not] further the band's division with acts of individual greed."
The Journey Through Time appearance was officially called off on June 23. Schon announced the cancellation on social media, without explanation.
"Following reports that the festival had sold tickets as 'Journey' and infringed on many of Mr. Rolie's personality rights (and Journey's), upon review of a cease-and-desist letter, the festival agreed to remove Mr. Rolie from the marketing, and apologized to him – but continued to sell tickets to unsuspecting fans as 'Journey,'" Stiffelman wrote to the Guitare en Scene organizers.
"Ultimately, we understand that the festival, after paying Mr. Schon at least $100,000, canceled the promoted event," Stiffelman added. "Fans were asked via Instagram to hold the bag and 'support the festival' by not seeking refunds, and to still pay for all nights even in the absence of a replacement headliner as marketed. They were instead redirected in a post to 'the link in bio,' which does not indicate any form of refund."
Schon was initially promoted as a member of a fill-in group called the "GES All-Star Band" but is no longer mentioned on the festival's official website. The lineup now slated to perform tonight at Guitare en Scene features several members or former members of Whitesnake, including Joel Hoekstra and Mendoza.
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