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 Home is where I want to be
Home is where I want to be
1996 - Byrne Goes Head to Head in Suit With Ex-Bandmates PDF Print E-mail

From: Billboard magazine, September 2, 1996

It's "Life During Wartime" again for former Talking Heads
vocalist David Byrne and the band's other members, but now
Byrne and the other Heads aren't playing the same tune. The
singer has filed a lawsuit against his three former bandmates
and Radioactive Records Chief Gary Kurfirst in hopes of
halting the release of the Heads' Radioactive/MCA album "No
Talking Just Head," due Oct. 10. 

In the suit, filed Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court in New York,
Byrne claims that the release of an album by his ex-bandmates
as the Heads is "wrongful use in commerce of false designations
of origin, [and] false descriptions and dilution of a
protectible trademark in violation of the Lanham Trademark
Act 1946." 

According to the suit, by late 1991, "it had become impossible
for Talking Heads to work together as a band," leaving Byrne to
pursue a solo career. Bassist Tine Weymouth and her husband,
drummer Chris Frantz, subsequently formed the Tom Tom Club [sic].

Although Talking Heads had ceased to exist, a company founded
by its members, Talking Heads Tours Inc., continued to operate
by exploiting the band's catalog and maintaining bank accounts
for income generated by Talking Heads. 

According to the suit, the last meeting of Talking Heads Tours
Inc. was held May 3, 1994. Weymouth and Frantz attended in
person, Byrne by proxy. 

After learning of press reports about the pending Heads project,
Byrne's representatives first protested in June, 1995 to attorney
L. Levy, who represents Weymouth and Frantz. Three additional
letters from Byrne's attorney, included as exhibits in the filing,
followed this year. 

In the most recent two of those three correspondences, Byrnes
attorney Jeffrey C. Slade stated that Warner Bros. Records, which
owns and distributes the Talking Heads catalog in North America,
would join Byrne in a legal action. Warner Bros., however, is not
named as a plaintiff. 

According to a Warner Bros. Inc. spokesman, "The company is
still evaluating an independent action, but it does support
Byrne and has provided an affidavit in support of his action." 

The suit claims that the use of the name "the Heads" for the
forthcoming album and tour "will likely cause irreparable injury
to the reputation of Talking Heads and dilute the distinctive
quality of the trademark of trade name Talking Heads." 

A third claim, against Weymouth and Frantz only, says that the
plan to record and tour as the Heads is a breach of a December
1987 Talking Heads Tours Inc. agreement with Warner Bros. 

Byrne is asking the court to enjoin his former bandmates from
releasing the album and performing as the Heads and seeks a
judgment for the alleged violation of the Lanham Act, as well
as attorney fees, costs, and expenses.

Weymouth, Frantz, Harrison, and Kurfirst declined to comment
on the suit, but in a previous interview, Weymouth told Billboard
that the Heads is a new project. "To avoid any misconception
or confusion in the eyes of the public, this is a new band," she
said. "It's not to be confused with Talking Heads, which had
David Byrne with it. It is a completely new band." 

At press time, a Radioactive/MCA spokeswoman said the label
intended to proceed as planned with release of the set's debut

single in late August. 

 

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