Axl Rose has responded to the lawsuit from his former manager Irving Azoff which claimws unpaid commission with a countersuit. Azoff, now a co-chief of the combined Live Nation Ticketmaster conglomerate, sued Rose back in March, claiming the Guns N Roses frontman had reneged on an oral agreement to pay him 15% of earnings from the band’s‘Chinese Democracy’ tour, which would paid over approximately $2 million. Rose had previously parted company with Azoff and his Front Line management firm, which is now the management division of the Live Master.
In his countersuit, Rose claims that Azoff tried to force him to reunite with the original Guns N Roses line-up for a world tour, and got so absorbed with those doomed plans that he failed to properly promote the ‘Chinese Democracy‘ album as a result. He also alleges Azoff lied about the potential of a Van Halen/Guns n Roses “supertour” and then bungled the management of the tour.
Interestingly Rose also accuses Azoff of misusing his combined role of manager, promoter, venue owner and ticketing maestro to force artists into projects in which they’d rather not participate. The lawsuit notes “Ticketmaster recently merged with Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the United States. Azoff is Chairman of the newly merged entity, Live Nation Entertainment. The U.S. Department of Justice challenged the merger on the grounds that it would create a monopoly – and violate the federal anti-trust laws – in the sale of ticketing services to major concert venues in the U.S.,” Rose’s lawsuit states. “The DOJ allowed the merger to go forward only after the parties entered into a stringent consent decree which precluded the newly merged entity including Azoff from, among others, abusing its position in the market to impede competition.” And says “Azoff now controls the trifecta of (1) artist management, (2) concert and touring promotion and (3) ticket sales. Azoff decides and manipulates what artists he wants to promote through favorable touring deals. He uses his power to punish artists and harm their careers if they do not follow his orders. That is what happened here.”
Rose claims Azoff sabotaged tours and record sales; allegedly lied about a tour with Guns N’ Roses and Van Halen; and then resigned as manager but expected compensation. Rose also accuses Azoff of “spite and vindictiveness” for using Rose’s adopted name, William Bailey, in the first lawsuit, knowing that it would cause Rose “emotional distress and harm.” It should be noted that the facts of the dispute pre-date the merger of TicketMaster/FrontLine with Live Nation. Referring to Azoff’s failed plan to reunite Rose with his former Guns n Roses bandmates the countersuit says: “Upon realising that he couldn’t bully Rose and accomplish his scheme, Azoff resigned and abandoned Guns N Roses on the eve of a major tour, filing suit for commissions he didn’t earn and had no right to receive”.
Rose is asking for $5 million in damages, claiming “breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud and breach of contract”.
CMU Daily 19 May 2010