PHIL LEWIS On Solution To Legal Dispute With STEVE RILEY Over L.A. GUNS Name: 'I Suppose It's Fair'

March 3, 2023

During an appearance on this past Tuesday's (February 27) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Phil Lewis once again commented on the out-of-court resolution of the legal dispute over the rights to the L.A. GUNS name. Under the terms of the April 2021 settlement agreement, he and guitarist Tracii Guns are continuing to operate under the L.A. GUNS trademark, while drummer Steve Riley and his bandmates from the other version of L.A. GUNS are now operating under the new name RILEY'S L.A. GUNS. Asked if he is satisfied with how the dispute was resolved, the singer said: "I think so. Just to be clear, they were after us. There was no question, no doubt. I've got them on record saying, 'We have as much right to the name as they do,' talking about us, which is absolute baloney. And there was no way we could not stop what we were doing and address that, no matter what it cost, no matter what we had to do. Because it [would be] over; it'd kill us. So we had to come up with something. And we did. We came up with a solution. I suppose it's fair.

"L.A. GUNS is Tracii's baby; it has been his baby since, like, 1985. And a bunch of guys from back east getting together with a grudge isn't… You're doing it for the wrong reason. That's not L.A. GUNS," Lewis explained.

RILEY'S L.A. GUNS features Riley alongside Orlando, Florida-based guitarist/vocalist Kurt Frohlich, bassist Kelly Nickels (a member of L.A. GUNS' "classic" incarnation) and guitarist Scott Griffin, who played bass for L.A. GUNS from 2007 until 2009, and then again from 2011 to 2014.

In January 2020, Riley was sued by Lewis and Guns in California District Court. Joining Riley as defendants in the case were the three musicians who performed in his rival version of L.A. GUNS; that group's manager, booking agent and merchandiser; and Golden Robot Records. The complaint, which requested a trial by jury, alleged that Riley's version of L.A. GUNS (referred to in the case docket as "the infringing L.A. GUNS") was creating "unfair competition" through its unauthorized usage of the L.A. GUNS trademark. In addition, Guns and Lewis were seeking relief from and/or against false advertising, breach of contract and unauthorized usage of their likenesses.

In May 2021, Guns discussed the resolution in an interview with The SDR Show. He said: "We ended up settling in a way where, basically, [Steve] licenses the words L.A. GUNS for free; I'm not even asking for a percentage of when he plays. I'm just saying, 'Hey, I could have taken your house. I could have taken anything you own. But I don't want you to die in the street, and I don't want you to be poor.' And I really love his son, Cole. It just got to the point with all this litigation… It just got to the point where [we were] just going back and forth, and I'm, like, 'How can I easily make it just make sense?' 'Cause in the end, they had no argument. 'Well, I'm in L.A. GUNS.' That was the argument. No, you're not — you're not in L.A. GUNS. You were hired by me. The bass player guy was hired by me. And it's as simple as that. But if you wanna pretend that you came up with the name or you formed the band or it was your musical vision or that you even wrote one fucking song, you can go live in that fantasy, as long as it doesn't infringe on my business."

In a separate interview with Sonic Perspectives, Guns addressed the fact that Riley's version of L.A. GUNS played at the M3 Rock Festival in 2019 and released a full-length album under the L.A. GUNS name, 2020's "Renegades". He said: "Dude, when they did those couple of shows, we got so much angry e-mail from our fans. People were, like, 'What the fuck? None of you guys were there!' We would have to explain it's a different band with the same name. When I say a lot, I'm talking over a thousand e-mails. Then they put out a record using the name L.A. GUNS, [and] the e-mails just escalated. That was the point where some from our family stepped who had unlimited funds, which we used to stop this. It was what we needed to do, and it is done. Can you imagine, now they have to make up their legal fees? In what reality is it worth it? For Steve Riley to spend $80,000, and they will never make that back with RILEY'S L.A. GUNS. There is no logic, and it's so bizarre."

In November 2021, Riley told Waste Some Time With Jason Green that Tracii and Phil "do not like each other. I don't care what anybody says; I know what I know. I was the only one constant factor in L.A. GUNS through all the changes. I know how they talked about each other. I know how they got along when they were together, and they do not like each other."

Steve went on to say that he knew from the get-go that Phil "was making a bad call" be reuniting with Tracii. He added: "To call that an L.A. GUNS reunion with just the two of them… First of all, it's not a reunion. And then second of all, to do it with him and know their past relationship, know how they tore each other up in interviews and in the press and just said the worst things about each other, I just couldn't understand it; it wasn't registering to me. Why would you wanna do this when you could, at this age, at this point in your career, don't you wanna be comfortable and do it around people that you really dig? So it wasn't really registering why he would wanna do it. I guess they saw big dollar signs, and that didn't happen.

"The thing is you've gotta build a machine," he continued. "I know that the machine that they have around them right now is not good. I know that they have some people working for them that probably don't know how to direct them, how to get the most out of what they have. So the thing is gonna stall, and it has stalled."

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