The story is as old as time itself: (1) Band gets famous. (2) Band breaks up. (3) Two different incarnations of band start performing. (4) Everyone gets confused.
Take the recent Whisky A Go-Go performance by Jack Russell's Great White. That moniker mouthful is the result of Russell's settlement with his former bandmates, who continue to perform as Great White.
These disputes are as old as rock 'n' roll (ahem, The Drifters and The Platters). But there's been an uptick of them in recent years, and they've gotten steadily more bizarre. Here are some of our favorites.
Queensryche vs. Queensryche
Thirty years after their formation, melodic hard-rockers Queensryche split into two camps about two years ago. It happened like this: First, band members fired vocalist Geoff Tate's stepdaughter from running their fan club. Then they fired Tate's wife as their manager. Finally, at a tour stop in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Tate allegedly instigated a physical altercation with his bandmates.
Two months later the band officially fired Tate, who responded by claiming he was fired illegally, and suing the rest of the band over use of the name. The case is still pending. In the meantime, both groups released albums in 2013: Tate assembled an all-star group of hard rockers for Frequency Unknown, while his bandmates recruited ex-Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre for vocal duties on a self-titled record.
Ratt vs. Ratt
Ratt reunited in 1997, albeit without original guitarist Robbin Crosby and bassist Juan Crocier. But things soon went haywire again. According to reports, singer Stephen Pearcy walked out on the band in January 2000, six days before a scheduled tour. Trash talk ensued, with Pearcy claiming his bandmates were ruining Ratt's integrity and his bandmates accusing Pearcy of still having drug issues.
Pearcy formed his own version of Ratt while his bandnames continued touring, first with Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl and then with ex-Motley Crue singer John Corabi. Pearcy sued his former band for the rights to the name in 2001, but his lawsuit was tossed out of court, bringing an end to the two versions of Ratt. Pearcy officially rejoined the Ratt fold in 2007.
L.A. Guns vs. L.A. Guns
In 2002, guitarist Tracii Guns left L.A. Guns to concentrate on Brides of Destruction, a new project with Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx. The remaining lineup – led by vocalist Phil Lewis – continued to tour and record new albums under the name. In 2006, Tracii Guns formed the Tracii Guns Band to play his old songs, but soon changed his new band's name to L.A. Guns, since he also had claim to legal ownership of the name.
For the next six years, the two versions somehow managed to co-exist peacefully, which continued until 2012, when Tracii Guns threw in the towel on his version, claiming he just wanted to move on from L.A. Guns at this stage in his life. Last month, Guns and Lewis performed together for the first time in almost a decade at a charity gig by Las Vegas rockers Sin City Sinners.
Hawkwind vs. Nik Turner's Hawkwind
Singer and guitarist Dave Brock is the only remaining founding member of '70s space-rock pioneers Hawkwind – also known as the band who fired Lemmy, resulting in the formation of Motorhead. In 2002, former Hawkwind saxophonist and vocalist Nik Turner took a group of other ex-Hawkwind members on tour under the name XHawkwind. Brock objected to this and filed a successful court injunction.
Fast-forward to last year, when Brock announced Hawkwind's first U.S. tour in years. Then a U.S. tour was announced by Nik Turner's Space Ritual, the name he took after the legal proceedings a decade prior.
Shortly before each tour was scheduled to begin, Turner filed for a U.S. trademark for the name 'Nik Turner's Hawkwind,' and promotion for his tour commenced. But Brock soon canceled his tour, claiming that the stress caused by Turner's filing caused him to become physically ill. The men, both now in their '70s, will likely be back in court soon.
Below: The weirdest one of them all
Lights Out vs. Lights Out 2.0
This one's the best: Four years ago saw a feud between Lights Out and Lights Out 2.0, two separate UFO tribute bands performing around the Los Angeles area. Details are hard to ascertain (neither act has a working website) but this seems to be how it breaks down: Members of the original Lights Out left the group and formed their own UFO tribute band, cleverly titled Lights Out Version 2.0. The original Lights Out thus dubbed themselves “Lights Out: L.A.'s Original Tribute to UFO.”
Their website at the time featured giant bold letters that read: “We ain't no Lights Out Version 2.0… 3.0… or 666.0. We're the originals!” Meanwhile, Lights Out: Chicago's UFO Tribute and Lights Out: A Tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are just kind of going about minding their own business.
Honorable Mention: John Densmore's attempts to keep his fellow Doors bandmates from using any variation of that name have been well documented over the years, as have Black Flag founder Greg Ginn's similar efforts against his former bandmates. Can't we all just get along?