Journey fire Steve Smith and Ross Valory, while launching $10,000,000 lawsuit

(Image credit: Getty/C Flanigan/FilmMagic)

Journey's Neil Schon and John Cain have sacked drummer Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory after filing a lawsuit against the now-former members earlier this week.

Court documents surfaced detailing that Neil Schon and John Cain have filed a lawsuit against the two musicians via LA law firm, Miller Barondess, seeking $10 million in damages. The documents allege that Smith and Valory were attempting a “corporate coup d’état" to gain control of the Journey trademark through a takeover of Nightmare Productions Inc, the corporate entity of the band.

Nightmare Productions was set up in 1985 when Schon, Cain, and former Journey singer, Steve Perry entered into an agreement providing the three members with an "exclusive, irrevocable license" to the Journey trademark. Steve Perry left the band in 1998, and Schon and Cain were granted control of the Journey name, including the right to perform under the name Journey.

The document goes on to allege that Smith and Valory conducted improper shareholder and board of director meetings relating to Nightmare Productions, and both elected to remove Cain and Schon as President and Secretary respectively, in a bid to position themselves in control of the company. 

“With control of Nightmare Productions, Smith and Valory incorrectly believe they can seize control of the Journey name and force Schon, Cain and Nightmare Productions to provide them with wind-fall payments after their retirement; they want to be paid a share of Journey touring revenue in perpetuity under the guise of a licensing fee while they perform absolutely no work for the band.”

According to the documents, Schon and Cain  "two men that they once considered their brothers, but the devious and truculent behavior of Steve and Ross left them reluctantly with no choice but to act decisively.

“Journey will continue on with great success by ridding the band of disruptive members and replacing them with top musicians; and most importantly, by keeping its essential members – Schon, Cain and Pineda – fully intact.”

Skip Miller, a lawyer for Schon and Cain, told Rolling Stone: "The contracts are clear on their face. The Journey name is controlled by Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain. And for very good cause, they don't want to perform with Smith or Valory anymore, they don't want to have anything to do with them, and that's their right. They're going to go on with Journey, continue with the great success of the past and these two guys are going to get replaced.

Steve Smith and Ross Valory are yet to respond.


Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.