Tracii Guns Drops Steve Riley Lawsuit, Says Riley ‘Has No Money’
Guns and singer Phil Lewis, who lead one currently active version of L.A. Guns, filed a complaint last January against Riley, who plays in another incarnation of the band along with guitarist Scotty Griffin, singer Kurt Frohlich and classic-era bassist Kelly Nickels. The complaint identified Riley’s version of the band as “the infringing L.A. Guns” and accused them of creating “unfair competition” by using the name.
Speaking to TotalRock Radio’s Dawn Osborne recently, Guns explained that he and Riley have agreed to dismiss their legal battle.
“We just settled this lawsuit a couple of days ago,” Guns said. “And I'll let the press release explain how it's gonna work from here on out. But nobody can just be L.A. Guns except me forever. And it worked out. I would have liked to have taken it further, but that motherfucker has no money.”
The guitarist continued: "All this thing has been for 15 years is a complete negative waste of time and energy. But I ended up in a position where I could go after the guy. And it was the right thing to do. You can't let people take advantage of you. And that's kind of classic in my life. I'm really generous with people, and I wanna see everybody succeed. But if you take advantage of me, man. … Sometimes I wish there were no laws. Because some people are so selfish."
You can watch the interview below.
L.A. Guns confirmed the news in a recent Facebook post. According to the post, "Mr. Guns and Mr. Lewis will continue to operate under the 'L.A. Guns' trademark, while Mr. Riley and his bandmates will now operate under the new name 'Riley’s L.A. Guns' and a new logo." Both versions of the band will continue to play their old songs live and will appear together on streaming services.
Guns cofounded L.A. Guns in 1983, and Riley and Lewis joined in 1987. All three musicians played on the band’s most popular albums, including their 1988 self-titled debut and 1989’s Cocked & Loaded, which were both certified gold.
In his legal complaint, Guns claimed to be “the owner of the common law trademark rights” for the band’s name and logo. Riley, in turn, claimed that he was a partial owner of the L.A. Guns name. Guns and Lewis denied this claim and accused Riley of embezzling publishing profits over the past two decades.
To further complicate the L.A. Guns legal saga, Guns initially quit the band in 2002, leaving Lewis and Riley to soldier on with a revolving door of guitarists. Guns then launched his own version of the group in 2006, and both lineups co-existed until Guns dissolved his outfit in 2012. Lewis then left Riley’s version of the band in 2016 to partner with Guns for his new iteration of the band. Got all that?
With this head-spinning legal battle behind him, Guns can now focus solely on new music. L.A. Guns are set to release their new album, the fittingly titled Checkered Past, in November. They're also releasing a new live album, Cocked & Loaded Live, on July 9. Sunbomb, Guns’ new project with Stryper singer Michael Sweet, will release their debut album on May 14.