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Violent Femmes' Ritchie sues Gano over Wendy's flap

In March, Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie wrote to us, telling us he, too, was a disappointed as fans with lead singer Gordon Gano's decision to sell "Blister in the Sun" to Wendy's.

Now, Ritchie, a Milwaukee native, is taking it one step further, suing Gano, claiming he was deprived credit for some of the group's songs.

Here's the story from the Associated Press:

The suit seeks a ruling declaring Ritchie half owner of the band's songs and an accounting of past and future royalties. "This action is the unfortunate culmination of an ongoing intra-band dispute between Ritchie and Gano over Gano's misappropriation and misadministration of Ritchie's interests in the jointly owned songs and assets of the band," the lawsuit said.

Ritchie's apparently also irked by the band's recent decision to sell licensing rights to its iconic song "Blister in the Sun" to Wendy's for use in a commercial.

Gano, reached by the AP, called the lawsuit "a complete surprise" -- especially since the band still regularly performs and just returned from a tour in South Africa. "We just played a really, really good tour," he said. "Since the early '80s, everything's really good. We're playing better than ever." Gano says he wrote the band's songs with one or two exceptions.


In March, Ritchie told OnMilwaukee.com, "It's a common misconception that 'we' sold out and 'we' are doing idiotic things when it's really Gordon exclusively.

"The sad thing is he makes almost all the money on these things but 'we' share the blame and humiliation equally. Which sucks."

The blog I wrote on the subject is quoted in the 28-page complaint filed in New York in Tuesday. You can read the entire complaint below.

Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.com for updates to the suit.


Talkbacks

rollinond0wn | May 27, 2009 at 11:31 p.m. (report)

Seriously, I don't think Brian is in the wrong for wanting to protect the bands work. He is a genuine person, not selfish or really overreacting. The band was never about being serious, listen to their music. They enjoyed performing for what it was to them. Fun. For one person to sell the song for a commercial and feel they have the right to without everyone being on board is not cool. I respect Brian's decision, because I feel he is hard working and acted in the best interest of the band.

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kastaway | April 13, 2008 at 5:21 p.m. (report)

Guy Hoffman carried that band. He's the only reason they lasted as long as they did. If anyone deserves royalties, kudos and Hall of Fame, it's Hoffman, the truly dedicated musician.

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Danjo | Aug. 26, 2007 at 9:10 a.m. (report)

How many of these people who value integrity over a rock and roll song being used for burgers steal music over the internet? I know a lot of sanctimonius "fans" who file share on a large scale -- the most irritating of the lot are the musicians I have known who do so. Idiots! If the record companies would get back into the record business and market the recordings of talented people (innovate maybe with a new delivery model), Starbucks, Burger King, Heineken wouldn't even be a consideration for musicians looking for a paycheck. Question: Mr. Ritchie was on tour while this case was being carefully groomed by his lawyers. How good were those shows? How good have they been if people in the band aren't really even honest with one another? Mr. Gano could probably see this handwriting on the wall and was looking to get as much of a retirement fund as he could. A band is a marriage, if people aren't honest to one another it all becomes wooden. Mr Ritchie was in essence, sleeping with his lawyer. Integrity in music goes away the minute you are paid to play. It then becomes a sliding scale. These guys were commercialized a long time ago. We can take them down from that pedestal please.

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sandstorm | Aug. 20, 2007 at 10:48 a.m. (report)

Holly, RS is not the most respected of mags these days, and for them to call anything a "sell out" is definitely the pot calling the kettle black. Seriously, if Richie had half the integrity you give him credit for he wouldn't still walk on stage, sleepwalk thru a tired Femmes set, collect a big, fat corporate paycheck, go home and file law suits against his meal ticket.

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sharonamae | Aug. 18, 2007 at 3:48 p.m. (report)

Has anyone else noticed that on the femmes myspace page, SOME of the comments on the lawsuit and the commercial have been removed, while those that are favorable to BR are still there? That is just not right. I'm sorry, but that doesn't show a whole lot of integrity, imo. Yes, some fans were upset about the commercial, but others were and are okay with it, some don't care about the commercial, and some don't even know about it.

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