Two Touring Versions Of L.A. Guns May Be More Than Enough For The Courts

noah | March 3, 2008 1:00 am
It’s probably appropriate that the Los Angeles Times ran a piece on the many disputes over who “owns” the names of yesteryears’ hard-rock favorites in the hours before the Rocklahoma lineup announcement, what with that festival’s lineup likely being studded with many of the argued-over names. Not only does the piece have an amazing quote on why these debates usually wind up in court, courtesy of Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe (“It’s my company. Someone from Starbucks is not going to go out and form another company called Starbucks.”), it has more on the origins of the L.A. Guns vs. L.A. Guns battle that’s resulting in two versions of the band touring–and engaging in a price war!–right now:

Guitarist Tracii Guns, who formed the band in 1982 and was the original “Guns” in Guns N’ Roses, says his crew is the real deal since it includes one of the band’s earliest singers, Paul Black. “Phil and Steve were not even the original members of the band,” Tracii wrote in an online post after declining to be interviewed for this article. “Now they . . . say that I am not the ‘real’ version of L.A. Guns?”

The standoff persists because Guns and Riley each own 50% of the L.A. Guns name. Riley discovered in the mid-’90s that their manager had never secured the rights to “L.A. Guns.” With the other founding members gone, Guns and Riley trademarked the name together.

But Riley says the guitarist forfeited the name when he left the band in 2002 to work with Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx. At the time, L.A. Guns was close to securing a tour with Alice Cooper, but still supporting lesser acts such as Warrant and Firehouse, which irked Guns. The band urged him to stay.

“We said, ‘We got bills and families, we have to take jobs like this,’ ” recalls Riley, whose son is now 16. “He looked us right in the eye and said, ‘I don’t [care] about you or your families.’

“He shot us down completely.”

While I can understand why Tracii Guns would have shot down Riley–after all, the “Guns” is in his name (not to mention that of Guns N’ Roses, another band that’s currently having name “issues” thanks to some legal wrangling)–part of me wonders of he shouldn’t have been forced to forfeit at least part of the rights to it for cutting bait with L.A. Guns and trying to break back into mainstream consciousness with Brides Of Destruction, the Nikki Sixx project that put out an album to almost no fanfare a few years back. I mean, did any of you hear that thing? Yecch. And he stuck with it for three years.

Who owns a band name? [LA Times, via Matablog]L.A. Guns – Never Enough [YouTube]