Jim Morrison Rules from the Grave

The Doors in happier times
The Doors are music legends; rock n’ roll hall of famers. They were led by iconic front man Jim Morrison who’s powerful voice and drug induced escapades marked an amazing, albeit brief, run as one of rock’s biggest bands. So why am I writing about Jim and The Doors now? Because their 1970 band member agreement is still controlling the lives of the three living members.

A recent lawsuit between John Densmore (drummer) and the parents of Morrison on one side and Ray Manzarek (keyboards) and Robbie Krieger (guitar) on the other, was just recently put to rest. The California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal filed by Krieger and Manzarek thereby upholding a $5 million dollar ruling against them and in favor of Densmore and Morrison’s family.

Krieger and Manzarek wanted to go on a revival tour in 2003 but Densmore declined the offer citing his past promises to Morrison and his opinion that The Doors cannot be The Doors without Morrison. Densmore compromised and allowed his two former band mates to tour under the new name “The Doors of the 21st Century”. However, once Manzarek and Krieger hit the road, “the 21st Century” was only seen in small print and it was clear that the two were attempting to capitalize on the fame and notoriety of their former band. (To find out more about the case go to http://news.findlaw.com/ap/e/1403/08-22-2008/20080822023504_40.html)

Through the power of the 1970 band member agreement, Densmore and Morrison’s family successfully sued Manzarek and Krieger. The agreement states that any business deal offered to the band requires the permission of all four bandmates; a vote against by one means a vote against by all. Depending on which side of the case one was on, this provision was either brilliant or shortsighted. Densmore’s probable argument is that the band had the foresight to include this type of strict consent requirement to preserve the image and brand name of the band. While Manzarek’s and Krieger’s likely stance is that the provision was meant for a different time and a different place.

A unanimous consent provision is rarely seen in today’s band member agreements, but is, at times, still appropriate. What may have saved the day for the Doors and avoided this type of nasty and expensive lawsuit was to also include an amendment provision which would allow the remaining band members to amend the band member agreement by a vote of the majority of the then living band members.

If you feel like your band and your band mates are all on equal footing, this type of provision may be the right move. Just like life, contracts should be fluid. Maybe unanimous consent is the right call now, but give yourself a chance to change things around when your band changes (somebody leaves, you bring on a new member, etc.). Again, these are not fun things to think about, but look at The Doors, more than 35 years after their last major album release, the band is still utilizing their band member agreement.

Best Band Name Competition Week 2:

Last week’s competition was a bit off. Perhaps because last week’s nominee wasn’t really a band name or perhaps because I creeped too many people out who actually checked out the Exotic Men of Mystery’s webpage. Not really sure. Here’s a better one; straight forward, evokes a joyful and funny image and near and dear to my heart:

THE NERD PARADE. (its best to picture it, makes the name much better)

Check them out: www.myspace.com/thenerdparade


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