Motley Crue Dispute: Parties’ Reps State Their Cases
Representatives on each side of the Motley Crue dispute stated their parties’ cases amid speculation that the upcoming legal battle will be decided over a 2008 amendment to the band agreement.
Mick Mars surprised former colleagues Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil last week by filing a lawsuit against them, alleging they ripped him off in the aftermath of his retirement from live performance in 2022. An angry exchange of views followed, with doubt over Mars’ status remaining. His position is that he retired from touring only, while the band maintains that since touring is almost its only source of income, it represents complete retirement.
According to the amendment reported by Variety, “In the event that any shareholder no longer renders services in MC then no amount of purported value shall be attributable to the Trademarks at the time of resignation, but all such trademarks shall continue to be the exclusive property of the corporation. In the event that any shareholder resigns from performing and/or rendering services in MC … he shall not be permitted to continue to use the trademarks for any purpose whatever. … Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary, in no event shall any resigning shareholder be entitled to receive any monies attributable to live performances (i.e., tours).”
The amendment was created, in part, to address the question of whether Lee and Neil – both of whom left the band in the past before returning later – were entitled to income from their period of absence. Allen Kovac, who is representing Motley Crue, said Mars was one of those voting against the drummer and singer having any entitlement.
Even so, Kovac said, Mars was offered a “terrific opportunity” in the form of 5% of the income from Crue’s 2023 dates, even though the amendment said he shouldn’t get anything. When Mars rejected it, the band upped the offer to 7 and a half percent. "What Mick’s asking for is an equal share, 25% — but there’s a guy named John 5 in the band," Kovac noted. "Mick resigned from touring, and John 5’s getting paid. So who’s gonna pay John 5? None of this makes sense."
He argued that the offer to Mars was worth a healthy cut of the estimated $100-110 million income expected over the year. “What’s 7 and a half percent of that? He says it’s an insult. And you’ve got me quoting that the other two guys got zero when they were out of the band. So where’s the insult?” he explained. “I think Mick is part of the 1%. Please put that on the record. … Let’s say it was 7 and a half percent of $110 million. Could you live on that, even if you have tens of millions already?”
Mars’ attorney, Edwin F. McPherson, countered that the situations involving Lee and Neil were different. “Vince was thrown out of the band, and Tommy left for other endeavors,” he said. “This was a long time ago. They did not leave after 41 years, and they did not simply retire from touring, particularly because of a debilitating disease. … This scenario that you discuss would allow Sixx to get rid of everyone, and he would be the last man standing, owning everything. That is not how corporate law works, and that is not even how normal bands work, especially [regarding] a band founder.”
Kovac noted that because Crue no longer records music and has either sold or is in the process of selling its catalog rights, the leading course of income is from live performances. Therefore, Mars's resignation from playing live amounts to his complete resignation from band operations. But McPherson argued that “corporate law doesn’t work that way. If Jeff Bezos stops working at Amazon someday, he still gets to own the company! So does Mick.”