Drummer Scott Rockenfield Lawsuit Against Queensryche Members Gets Trial Date
The ongoing divide between original Queensryche drummer Scott Rockenfield and the band's fellow original members Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson is finally about to be heard in the court. Rockfield filed suit against his longtime bandmates in 2021, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful discharge. Now it appears as though these charges will be addressed with Blabbermouth reporting that a trial date has now been set for 9AM on Jan. 16, 2024 in Snohomish County Superior Court in the state of Washington.
The issues between Rockenfield and the band appear to date back to 2017 when the drummer took time off from the band following the birth of his son. The group called upon Casey Grillo to fill in and help complete their touring commitments at the time, and the drummer has remained in the spot ever since.
In early 2018, the band issued a statement that read, "For those asking again about Scott and whether he has quit the band - he has not quit the band. He told us he's taking time off and we have no time frame on when he will return. We thought he would take few months off, obviously he doesn't want to tour right now. There is nothing more we can say about it and we can't be more honest about it than that"
Rockenfield's status with the band continued to be a source of confusion in recent years as well. Queensryche continued to play and record without the drummer, with singer Todd La Torre stepping in to handle drums on their 2019 album, The Verdict.
In January 2021, the drummer posted on social media that he had not left the group, insisting that he had not "quit, walked away, retired or abandoned" the band. In May of the same year, Rockenfield launched a new website with the title "Queensryche 2021," but once again no return to the band came about. Then, in October 2021, Rockenfield took his legal action against Wilton and Jackson.
What Is Scott Rockenfield Alleging?
Rockenfield claimed in his 2021 lawsuit 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 claimed 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 stated that 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 claimed that he was not included in recording Queencrÿche's The Verdict album, 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.
In the time since Rockenfield filed his suit against the group, Queensryche has recorded another album, 2022's Digital Noise Alliance. This time Grillo, who had been Rockenfield's fill-in, was behind the drumkit in the recording of the record. The group also continues to tour with scattered dates booked through the summer and fall. Get your tickets here.
So, after a lengthy wait, the conflict between the estranged drummer and his bandmates will now be going to trial in early 2024.