Queensrÿche’s founding drummer, Scott Rockenfield, is suing the two of the band’s other original members Michael Wilton (guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass). The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful discharge, among other offenses. It was first filed Oct. 11 in Snohomish County Superior Court and also names Wilton and Jackson’s wives as defendants as well.
Rockenfield claims that he took paternal leave from the band in February 2017 after his fiancée had to have an emergency Cesarean (also known as a C-section) delivery of their son. He claims that his fellow bandmates approved the leave and he was able to keep his equal one-third interest in all Queensrÿche companies (QR Companies). These companies include Tri-Ryche Corporation, Melodisc LTD., Queensryche Merchandising, Inc., EMS Music, LLC and Queensryche Holdings, LLC.
Rockenfield then claims that Wilton and Jackson, “voted to dismiss Rockenfield from the QR Companies due in whole or in part to his taking of approved family leave,” according to the complaint obtained by Blabbermouth. “Rockenfield was informed of his purported dismissal from the QR Companies in a letter dated November 3, 2018.”
Despite taking leave, Rockenfield claims he participated in all aspects of the QR Companies’ business, songwriting, and more with the exception of touring.
“During his family medical leave, Rockenfield was in constant and continued communication with the band, participated in writing songs, and prepared for the band’s recording schedule that was set to begin in early 2018,” according to the complaint.
“In October 2018, Rockenfield participated in negotiating a new extension of Queensrÿche’s 2013 recording contract with Century Media, which would add two (2) additional albums to the recording contract, and continued to work to secure seven very lucrative licensing offers on behalf ofQueensrÿche,” the lawsuit alleges.
Rockenfield goes on to claim that, since 2017, Wilton and Jackson, “have wrongfully withheld from Rockenfield all sources of income from the QR Companies in violation of the various Operating Agreements and Contracts governing the QR Companies for no lawful purpose.” In addition, they “have failed to provide Rockenfield with an accounting of the books, records, business and contracts of the QR Companies.”
He claimed to be “owed compensation for lost wages and profits as, as well as an amount equal to the present fair market value of his equity interest in the QR Companies as of his wrongful dismissal, plus interest thereon.”
According to Rockenfield, he received royalties from Tri-Ryche since February of 2017 for some of the band’s existing catalog, but he claims he hasn’t received any payments from Melodisc since February 2017, Queensryhe Merchandising since early 2018 or EMS since February 2017.
He also claims that he was not included in recording Queencrÿche’s latest album, The Verdict, despite being willing and available to do so. Instead, Queensrÿche singer Todd La Torre laid down the drum tracks on the record and, in 2019, the singer stated that Rockenfield was absent as the band prepared to enter the studio and that the drummer had essentially given his “blessing” for the band to record without him since he had been incommunicable.
The lawsuit comes less than a year after Rockenfield shot down suggestions that he quit the band or retired from playing music. He also posted on Facebook in January that fans “have not been given the facts by any means” and later launched a new website advertising his own comeback, dubbed “Queensrych2021.”
La Torre appeared on the Eddie Trunk Podcast in February and was asked if anyone in the band had heard from Rockenfield about his status in the group. “Not to my knowledge,” he responded, “All I can tell you is he took paternity leave, saying he would be gone for about six months, and that was four years ago. [Laughs]”
In Rockenfield’s absence, Queensryche tapped Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo as his substitute in 2017. Grillo left Kamelot one year later and has remained with Queensryche since. La Torre said that Grillo, “shows up every day. He shows up to songwrite, he shows up to record, if needed, and he shows up for the live gigs. So that’s all that I can tell you. I haven’t communicated with [Rockenfield] in years. So I have no idea what he’s up to. I couldn’t even tell you.”