Artist News Legal

Fired Machine Head bassist sues over band business arrangements

By | Published on Wednesday 22 January 2014

Adam Duce

Former Machine Head bassist Adam Duce, fired in February last year, has sued his former bandmates and manager, accusing them of firing him to get a larger cut of band income. He also claims that frontman Robb Flynn was already taking a larger cut of the money earned than had been agreed under their partnership.

The line-up of the band which operated from 2002 to 2013 (when he was fired), featuring Duce, Flynn, guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer David McClain, formed two business entities to manage the band’s income – a general partnership, and a company called Head Machine Touring Inc. Despite an agreement that each member owned 25% of the company, Flynn received a greater proportion of the money, claims Duce.

According to Courthouse News, in his lawsuit, Duce says that despite their albums and tours becoming more successful in the decade before he was fired, he “became concerned with how little income he was receiving, despite the time and hard work put in to developing the band”.

He claims that he raised his concerns with Flynn and band manager Joseph W Huston, but never received a satisfactory answer. Things came to a head after a European tour, which reportedly earned the band over $3 million. The lawsuit continues: “After receiving very little compensation despite the millions the band was bringing in, plaintiff requested and reviewed the records from the tours. Plaintiff found that Huston, Flynn, and PFM [Provident Financial Management] had squandered money throughout the trip without consulting plaintiff for the vast majority of ‘expenses'”.

After Duce was fired, Flynn published a statement on the band’s website saying that the bassist had “quit Machine Head well over a decade ago. He just never bothered to tell anyone”. Duce disputes this and accuses Flynn of “directly attacking [his] work ethic”. The actual reason for his firing, claims Duce, was that the band were about to sign a new record deal with Nuclear Blast America (also a defendant), and wanted a larger cut of any profits that came from it.

However, says Duce, although he is no longer a member of the band, he still owns a stake in their business interests. But, it’s alleged, he has not received any payments since being fired, and no agreement has been reached regarding his share of future royalties. As well as this, he claims that his likeness has continued to be used for promotional purposes and on the band’s website without permission.

In a long list of complaints, Duce is seeking damages from the band, their management and label for breaching their business agreements, trademark infringement, negligence, defamation, and unfair competition. He also wants the band to be prohibited from using the Machine Head name, on the grounds that, as founder member who was part of the group for over 20 years, it is still strongly associated with his name.