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Geoff Tate on Queensryche Split: ‘It’s Probably Gonna Get Ugly’

Geoff Tate
Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images

Last week Queensryche lead singer Geoff Tate found out he was fired when lawyers for the remaining members sent his lawyer a long legal document. After 30 years together, their relationship ended unceremoniously, but it sounds like the legal battle has just begun. 

Tate tells Rolling Stone that he doesn’t think Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton, Parker Lundgren and bassist Eddie Jackson have a legal right to fire him. “We’re in a lawsuit right now and it’s probably gonna get ugly,” he says in a lengthy interview that attempts to clear up rumors from the past four months. “I filed a claim a couple of days ago. So it’s all going to the legal system now to sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.”

Tate says there were no creative differences in the band, as Rockenfield claimed, because he was the sole creative force since Chris DeGarmo left in 1998. The drama began in February with an argument about who should control merchandizing, and escalated to the incident in Brazil in which Tate attacked his bandmates.

“They said that they weren’t planning on replacing me, but they had just fired our manager, our office assistant and one of our guitar techs, who all happened to be my family members,” Tate recalls.

“It seemed like a personal vendetta against me. Anyway, the meeting was short and we went to do the show. I’m getting ready by my station, ready to go on stage, and Scott [Rockenfield] looks at me and he smirks and says, ‘We just fired your whole family, and you’re next.’ I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don’t think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side. On my way, I managed to shove [Michael] Wilton, and really, that was it. I cooled down and we did the show, and everything went fine.”

There was no knife, he says. “You can’t really get knives into foreign countries.”

The 53-year-old singer says the move was strictly a business move for the rest of the band, although he didn’t understand what they hoped to accomplish by firing the lead singer of his band. “How are they gonna survive economically? And then, by that action, you’re completely alienating the promoters, who you work with closely to book shows for you. So now the promoter is left holding the bag, and that doesn’t make the promoter want to work with you again.”

Tate expect things to play out slowly in court, and doesn’t think Queensryche should play scheduled shows with new vocalist Todd la Torre. He added that he has no interest in forming his own version of Queensryche to compete with his old bandmates, although after things settle down he may be up for reforming the group if he’s declared the legal owner of the name and catalog.

Next: See More Ugly Band Breakups

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