During 2012, deteriorating relations between Queensryche and their front man, Geoff Tate, resulted in the firing of the latter from the group. Almost immediately after the singer's departure, a barrage of lawsuits and countersuits were thrown back and forth between representatives for both parties in a dispute over who owns the rights to the Queensryche name. As Tate revealed in a recent interview, the decision will most likely come about in a court hearing which has been scheduled for November of this year. Until that time, though, both he and his former band mates are out on the road. And, significantly, both are touring under the name of Queensryche.
Before November, fans will have the choice of either going to see "Queensryche with Todd La Torre" (Tate's replacement) or the catchily named "Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate The Original Voice". That there are, for the time being, two Queensryches out on the road presents a bizarre, confusing and no doubt frustrating situation for the band's fan base. But it also poses an interesting question which has resurfaced in the annuls of rock and roll history for many years. Specifically; who are the people that make a band a band?
In his declaration to the court in anticipation of November's trial, Tate outlines that he, as the lead singer, songwriter, and face of Queensryche since its inception, is entitled to take control of the name away from the other members. And he's got a valid point that the factors he possesses are important to the band's identity. Would Motorhead be Motorhead without Lemmy, even if Fast Eddie Clark and Filthy Phil Taylor were still in the fold? Would Ellefson, Friedman and Menza ever be able to make a claim to the mantle of Megadeth without Dave Mustaine? Both Megadeth and Motorhead now exist in versions that are markedly different from the aforementioned classic line-ups. Yet, the continuing presence of the iconic frontmen in these two groups means that these bands' revolving door members lists remain unproblematic for all but their most persnickety fans.
But then, maybe fans don't mind about Megadeth and Motorhead because those bands have had revolving-door line-ups almost since their inception; something which is not the case with Queensryche. Tate might be the face, voice and core-creative force of the band, but Queensyrche with Todd La Torre features Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield, three of the group's five original members, who have been playing together for some thirty years.
And while wether Todd La Torre is able to write like Geoff Tate remains to be seen, he can certainly sing like him. Some have even remarked that the young pretender does a better job of sounding like Geoff than Geoff himself does these days. Similar comments have often been made regarding Arnel Pineda, the man who replaced Steve Perry in Journey. Indeed, there are many who have expressed a desire for Axl Rose and his current cohort of hired Guns (see what we did there) to step down, in favor of the Myles Kennedy fronted version of Guns N' Roses that played a one-off set at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.
It will be November before we find out to whom the mantle of Queensryche belongs. But, even after that decision has been made in the courts, rock fans will undoubtedly continue to debate about which of the current incarnations of the band is the true version, or whether either factions can even make that claim without the inclusion of the other. For the time being though, all we can do is speculate...
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