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Doors drummer sues ex-bandmates

February 05, 2003|Elaine Dutka | Times Staff Writer

John Densmore, co-founder and drummer of the Doors, filed suit against former band members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, charging that a tour organized by the pair represents a breach of contract and trademark infringement.

On the tour, due to play the Universal Amphitheatre on Friday, Stuart Copeland, formerly of the Police, substitutes for Densmore, and Ian Astbury, formerly of the Cult, stands in for singer Jim Morrison, who died in 1971. The filing cites misleading advertising and promotion of the new group as the Doors without the consent of Densmore and the estates of Jim Morrison and his widow, Pam Courson.

"This has been brewing for a month, ever since the first ad for the amphitheater came out in the Los Angeles Times," Densmore said. "It was identical to our first album cover -- and our original logo appears on Stuart Copeland's bass drum, which makes me sad and hurt. While I admire Stuart and Ian as musicians, the Doors are John, Ray, Robbie and Jim ... just like John, Paul, George and Ringo are the Beatles. When Maurice Gibb died, his two brothers said they'd continue playing -- but not under the name Bee Gees, out of respect for the band's legacy. The only concession Ray and Robbie are making is changing the name to the Doors: 21st Century, which is obviously not enough. I've gotten calls for tickets from friends and fans on the assumption that I'm playing."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 06, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 9 inches; 336 words Type of Material: Correction
Drummer's name -- An article in Wednesday's Calendar about a lawsuit involving the rock group the Doors misspelled the first name of drummer Stewart Copeland as Stuart.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday February 08, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 14 inches; 520 words Type of Material: Correction
The Doors -- An article in Wednesday's Calendar about a lawsuit involving members of the rock group the Doors mistakenly referred to Pam Courson as Jim Morrison's widow. She was his longtime girlfriend but they were never legally married.

A representative of the Doors: 21st Century said Tuesday, "We have no knowledge of this situation and we have no comment at this time."

Densmore's attorney, Jerome Mandel of Mandel & Norwood, says that Densmore's reputation has been harmed by the implication that "he was not, and is not, an integral part of the Doors," one of the classic Los Angeles rock bands from the 1960s whose hits include "Light My Fire" and "Touch Me."

According to the complaint, the group -- which was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- had previously agreed to make joint business decisions and share in all revenues. Copeland and Astbury are also named in the legal action, which seeks public clarification and punitive damages to be determined.

Densmore was set to perform with the tour but backed out for health -- and philosophical -- reasons. Two years ago, he injured his ears on a TV special and he's been suffering from tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Although he had largely healed by September, when the band played its first gig at California Speedway in Fontana, the drummer didn't like the format. He was uncomfortable having one singer perform all of Morrison's songs rather than sharing them among the band members. And when he subsequently read a review of the concert that quoted Manzarek as saying that Astbury and Copeland were permanently aboard, he said, he felt he had been, in effect, publicly fired.

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