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Axl Rose countersues Front Line's Irving Azoff

May 18, 2010 |  9:54 pm


Guns N' Roses ringleader Axl Rose has countersued his former manager Irving Azoff, seeking $5 million in damages, according to reports. 

As Pop & Hiss previously noted, Azoff's Front Line Management sued Rose for about $1.8 million for management commissions Front Line claims the singer owes for recent performances across Asia, Canada and South America.

The Times' Patrick Goldstein analyzed the Rose's suit, as first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, on his Big Picture blog. Writes Goldstein of this week's filing:

The Guns N' Roses singer has filed an eye-popping countersuit against Azoff ... claiming that Azoff, among other things, "tried to implement a scheme to force [Rose] to reunite with the original Guns N' Roses band members and, as part of the plot, failed to properly promote the 'Chinese Democracy' album, lied about a prospective Van Halen super tour and mishandled the band's tour dates."

Rose wants $5 million in damages from Azoff, who is now arguably the most powerful man in the music business. With the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, Azoff now controls roughly 70% of the concert ticket market (via Ticketmaster), a huge swath of the live concert business (through Live Nation) and handles the careers of roughly 200 top artists (from the Eagles, Van Halen and Christina Aguilera to Willie Nelson and the Kings of Leon) thanks to Azoff's Front Line Management.

So Rose isn't taking on just anybody. In fact, in his suit, he says that Azoff is violating the government's consent decree (which allowed the merger to happen in the first place) by coercing and bullying artists to do what he wants. In Rose's case, he claims Azoff wanted a Guns N' Roses reunion. So Rose claims that Azoff proceeded to sabotage Rose and his new band so Rose would have no option but to reunite the old band. As the filing puts it: "Upon realizing that he couldn't bully Rose and accomplish his scheme, Azoff resigned and abandoned Guns N' Roses on the eve of a major tour, filing suit for commissions he didn't earn and had no right to receive."

There's oh-so-much more. But surely one of the highlights is Azoff's response to the countersuit. When the Reporter's Gardner contacted longtime Azoff lawyer Howard King, volunteering some of the highlights of the claim, King quipped: "[Rose] didn't accuse Irving of being on the grassy knoll in Dallas on November 22, 1963?" Over the years, Azoff has been in the midst of a number of outlandish feuds, going at it with the likes of David Geffen and former CBS Records chief Walter Yetnikoff, so I suspect there will be more fireworks yet to come. 

Read the full post on the Big Picture. 

Photo: Axl Rose performing in San Bernardino in 2006. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times