There have been rumors going around in the music industry (and on The A.V. Club) for years now about how insane Third Eye Blind is to work with, but a newly settled lawsuit might have finally brought some legal precedent to that argument. On Monday, a California jury awarded the band’s ex-guitarist, Anthony Fredianelli, about half a million dollars after ruling that the band failed to pay him the tour income he was owed. Still, the cash provides little solace to Fredianelli, who was a member of the band from 2000 to 2009, and claims that he's entitled to a portion of ownership in the group as a whole.
Though the band’s history of hits is relatively short (“Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper, and “How’s It Going To Be” all reached the Billboard Top 10 in the late ‘90s), Third Eye Blind’s legal history is far more storied. In 2000, with the band’s career on a gradual downslope, members voted to fire guitarist Kevin Cadogan. That’s when frontman Stephan Jenkins brought on Fredianelli—who was involved with the band at its inception in 1993, but lost his spot to Cadogan. Fredianelli agreed, and as a lead guitarist, earned $1750 per week while touring or recording and $1000 a week as a retainer when there was no work. According to a deposition Fredianelli gave in his lawsuit, the other members told him that, as long as he went through a two-year “probationary period” and paid his dues, he’d eventually become a full-fledged member and part owner of the band.
In 2003, the band’s then-manager, Eric Godtland, told Fredianelli that he’d finally earned that spot, at which point he stopped receiving a retainer and started receiving 25 percent of the band’s touring income. While that sounds fair financially, Fredianelli says frontman Jenkins was solely responsible for all band decisions, even at one point making an analogy “as if he would be the United States and we would be smaller countries and he would—if he wanted to ask for advice, he would ask.”
Fast-forward five years to 2008, by which point Fredianelli says Jenkins had all but abandoned the group, while he assumed responsibility for the band’s social media pages and interacting with fans. Meanwhile, bassist Arion Salazar left the group, bumping all the remaining members’ revenue shares up to 33 percent. That same year, Jenkins fired Godtland and reduced Fredianelli’s share back to 25 percent, for whatever reason. Jenkins also forced the other band members to sue Godtland, saying that if they didn’t he’d “pursue other projects, leaving the band without a lead singer and mak[ing] it impossible for 3eb to deliver the new album Jenkins had been promising [band members] and Third Eye Blind fans for years.” Fredianelli says he went along with the lawsuit, claiming in a deposition that Godtland had no contract and wasn’t really responsible for anything the band did. But he later contacted Godtland to apologize, something that drew Jenkins’ ire and resulted in his removal from the band.
Unfortunately for Fredianelli, none of the promises he’d been made were ever written down or overseen by a lawyer, meaning that the judge reviewing his claim was forced to reject his breach-of-contract arguments. And because Jenkins was pretty much the band’s only decision-maker, the judge said that Fredianelli couldn’t claim partnership in the band. Moreover, the judge said that, because the band sued Godtland, and because of Fredianelli’s claims about the former manager’s ineffectiveness in court, any agreement the guitarist had entered into with Godtland couldn’t be enforced. So in the end, the $450,000 Godtland was awarded is just his share of net touring income, and a relatively small payment for what he apparently put up with from Jenkins.
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