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Cheap Trick Sued by Drummer and Former Manager

Cheap Trick
Michael Putland, Getty Images

Long-simmering tensions between the current members of Cheap Trick and the band’s absentee drummer, Bun E. Carlos, appear to be boiling over into the courtroom.

Carlos, a founding member of Cheap Trick, remained a fixture of the lineup until March 2010, when the band released a statement announcing that he “is not currently the touring drummer for Cheap Trick. Bun E. remains a band member. Everyone is healthy and Cheap Trick will continue to tour as planned.” While that made it sound like Carlos’ absence was temporary, he’s remained in exile, even during the band’s sporadic forays into the studio. As the drummer put it in a 2012 interview, “I’m still in the band, but I don’t tour, I don’t hear from them. I prefer to be out on the road performing with them. Maybe we’ll kiss and make up.”

That doesn’t appear likely in the wake of this week’s news that Carlos, along with former Cheap Trick manager David Frey, is suing the other members of the band. Although Carlos and Frey have separate grievances with the group, it all boils down to one thing: money.

According to his portion of the suit, “Carlos is no longer required to participate in live performances by the band, but remains a full member of the band,” with the same salary and royalties that entails. Unfortunately, Carlos asserts that the other members of Cheap Trick have failed to live up to their end of the bargain “by, among other things, refusing to allow Carlos to participate in any of the activities of the band (including the recording of a new studio album), entering into numerous contracts on behalf of the Cheap Trick Companies without Carlos’s consent and otherwise preventing Carlos from participating in the management and operations of the Cheap Trick Companies.”

Frey, meanwhile, was apparently ousted as the band’s manager in July of 2012 — although the suit claims his firing is “null and void” because his contract required a unanimous vote, and since Carlos wasn’t involved in the decision, it doesn’t count. Worse, Frey claims that he fronted the group more than $350,000 to cover medical expenses following the disastrous stage collapse at its 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest appearance, and is still waiting to be paid back the balance of what he’s owed.

Cheap Trick have yet to issue an official response to the suit, which is seeking “an accounting and punitive damages for breach of contract, trademark infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, unfair competition and breach of fiduciary duty.”

Next: Top 10 Cheap Trick Songs

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