This week has seen two prominent bands, both around for decades, split up: Public Enemy and Journey. Both breakups seem to have their origins in politics.
Public Enemy was the first to make headlines. Flavor Flav, a member of the group, was summarily dismissed by originator Chuck D. after Flav publicly complained about performing a benefit concert in California for Bernie Sanders.
Despite the obvious political impetus for the decision, the bandmates insist it was not so simplistic. Flav is, by his own admission, not against any current Presidential candidate with one exception – Donald Trump. He’s made that clear when, in interviews after the dismissal, he has specified his position on the current President.
“F— Trump.”Flavor Flav
His generally apolitical support for all other Presidential candidates does seem to run directly counter to the strongly pro-Sanders positions of his former bandmates, but they have all cited Flav’s history of missing recording sessions and performances as the reason for the firing. The Sanders benefit concert seems to have simply been the last straw.
On another side of the musical aisle, the rock band Journey is effectively breaking up after decades of performances and surviving the loss of famed front man Steve Perry in the late 1980s. Band members Steve Smith and Ross Valory have been removed, apparently permanently, from the group following an alleged attempt to take over control of the band’s name and licensing from Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain.
Schon and Valory were both founding members of the band, with Cain and Smith joining later but being present on a majority of the albums. Smith and Valory would subsequently be in and out of the band as they pursued other projects. Because of their work on song composition, Schon and Cain were given sole rights to the band name by Perry when he left, but Valory and Smith, operating under the belief that the rights are legally held by a corporation founded to manage Journey’s enterprises, attempted to gain sole control of that corporation and thus claim the rights in question.
The revelation of these maneuverings has led to an environment where the bandmates no longer trust each other and do not enjoy each other’s company, which has in turn led to the dismissals.
The political component here is Trump. Jonathan Cain is married to “prosperity gospel” preacher Paula White, a key religious adviser to President Donald Trump. White’s relationship inspired President Trump to invite Journey to the White House and pose for a photo op with him in 2017… a trip which some of the band members took, but which Neal Schon vociferously and publicly disagreed. He posted his feelings on Facebook.
“I will remain strong and consistent with the belief we’ve always shared and agreed upon – Journey should never be used and exploited by anyone, especially band members for politics or any one religion.”
“I’ve been here since 1972 and this has always been our belief. This was with intent to exploit the brand and use the name. Journey was not there – 3 individual members were Cain Valory and Pineda whom I found … Tours are done all the time but it could have been privately.”
“The members who attended know my position and the way we’ve always been until now. Steve Perry myself and the rest have always agreed the music we created is for Everyone. As you can see the original picture below it states JOURNEY. I had no prior knowledge of this from anyone. Not band members or Management. This clearly shows no respect or Unity, just Divide.”Neal Schon
He later continued in an addendum to the post: “So they didn’t want to make a spectacle about the visit as Journey? Press is NEVER allowed in the Oval Office. So sorry but this was planned and manipulated for the befit of ? …. u figure it out.”
While there may well have been internal frictions for the band beforehand – there often are in musical groups, particularly ones which have been around for years and have had members cycle in and out – that feud was particularly noteworthy, as band members were still discussing it with the media more than a year later.
If, has been suggested, “ETTD” is thought to be a certainty and not simply humor, then Trump’s touch upon Journey has underscored the belief. On the other hand, it looks as if “EBTD” may grow into a similar phenomenon, should Biden unexpectedly falter.