Ex-Journey Frontman in L.A. Court Battle Over Demo Recordings

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A court fight is expected to begin today in downtown Los Angeles over unreleased demo recordings made by Journey's former frontman Steve Perry and a guitarist he briefly worked with.

Perry sued Phil Brown in Los Angeles federal court two years ago for violation of his publicity rights, alleging that the musician planned to release rough takes of four songs the two recorded in Brown's garage in the early 1990s.

The 71-year-old singer claims that he never wanted the demos issued and maintains that he and Brown agreed that Perry would control the work.

A call for comment to Brown's attorney was not immediately returned. Perry's lawyer declined comment.

According to the suit, Brown -- who played briefly with Little Feat and has written songs recorded by Cher and Pat Benatar -- claimed a copyright interest in the recordings in 2002 and made plans to release them, but did nothing.

However, after Perry released his third solo album “Traces” in October 2018, Brown's manager began promoting an album of Brown's songs using photos of Perry and a sound clip from one of the demos, Perry alleges.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter rejected an attempt by Brown to have the complaint tossed, finding last March that Perry has shown a reasonable probability of prevailing on his claims. The court also granted a temporary restraining order barring Brown from releasing the material.

The judge wrote that Brown's unauthorized use of Perry's name and likeness on Twitter and Facebook to promote the guitarist's band and album constitutes an “unauthorized commercial use of plaintiff's name and likeness in an effort to mislead and confuse the public by capitalizing” on Perry's name and reputation.

Although Brown argues “that he was a joint author of the four recorded vocal performances” -- a claim Perry disputes -- and “even if he is able to prevail on this argument, it would not bar plaintiff's right of publicity claims,” Walter wrote.

Perry was Journey's lead singer during the group's most commercially successful periods from 1977 to 1987, and again from 1995 to 1998. Perry returned to music in 2018, delivering his first new material in more than 20 years.

Photo: Getty Images

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