The contentious, long-running legal battle that resulted in two rival versions of Northwest rock band Queensryche has finally been settled.
“We wanted to let Queensryche fans around the world know that an amicable settlement has been reached between Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and Geoff Tate with regard to the future of the Queensryche name,” the two bands said in a joint statement released Sunday night.
The agreement stipulates that original Queensryche members Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield, as well as newer members Todd LaTorre and Parker Lundgren, will now be the sole band recording and touring as Queensryche, performing songs from a musical catalog that spans more than 30 years.
Original Queensryche lead singer Geoff Tate (who had formed a second version of the band) will perform, record and pursue “other creative endeavors,” but as part of the agreement will have the exclusive right to perform the concept albums “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Operation: Mindcrime II” in unique performances.
Tate will do a brief Queensryche “farewell” tour this summer before launching a new chapter his career.
The Grammy-nominated, progressive heavy-metal band — which has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide since the early 1980s — split into two separate, acrimonious camps nearly two years ago. A lawsuit resulted in a King County Superior Court ruling that each side could use the same name until the case went to trial or was settled.
According to Wilton, the agreement calls for Queensryche corporate assets to be evenly divided among himself, Jackson, Rockenfield and Tate.
Both sides say they are relieved to settle the dispute and look forward to moving on.
“It’s the rebirth of Queensryche and the way it used to be,” Wilton said by phone last night. “We’re rebuilding the Queensryche name.”
Wilton said the group felt re-energized during a set Saturday night at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore, performing along with Tesla, Night Ranger and other bands.
“There was probably a little more adrenalin on stage,” he said. “I think the fans were expecting a mediocre show and when they heard (singer Todd LaTorre), after three or four songs, they completely accepted him and just went ballistic.”
Tate is especially pleased that the case was settled outside of a courtroom.
“One thing that’s really important for people to understand is that this never went to court,” he said by phone after returning from a show in Louisiana.
“They (Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield) bought the name from me. But I retain ‘Operation Mindcrime.’ It’s sort of similar to the Pink Floyd situation where Roger Waters retained ‘The Wall.’ ‘Mindcrime’ was my thing and my story, so it’s appropriate that I keep that. So they will continue on as Queensryche, and I will continue on as me.”
With the lawsuit resolved, Tate is now free to reinvent himself.
The singer has created a new, Seattle-only show, dubbed “Rock and Vaudeville,” that reinterprets the history of rock ‘n’ roll since the ‘50s, featuring songs by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, AC/DC and other artists. A series of five shows are scheduled May 1-3 at the Triple Door.
“It started out as a project to take my mind away from the court case, because there was so much negativity,” Tate said. “I’m a very creative person, and I like to live in that world of making things up and creating musical pieces and stories. That’s where I operate the best. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Meanwhile, Wilton and his Queensryche band mates are working on songs for a follow-up to last year’s successful album, “Queensryche,” released by Century Media Records. But the group isn’t planning to do a local show until possibly the fall.
“We’ll definitely do a big re-launch of the band in Seattle,” Wilton said.
Read last summer’s story on the Queensryche dispute here.