Four surviving members of '70s funk group War dropped a bomb today on former bandmate Lonnie Jordan and others, demanding more than $1 million in damages and a ruling that will stop Jordan from promoting his band in a way that confuses fans into thinking the original War is touring.

The dispute has been dragging on for years between the "Original War" members and music impresario Gerald Goldstein, who acquired copyrights in the sound recordings and compositions recorded by the band, including the hits "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "Low Rider." In a complaint filed in federal court in LA today, the plaintiffs claim that through "a series of questionable transactions and various adverse and controversial court rulings over the past three decades," they lost control of the songs and the trademark "War," which has been transfered to a company controlled by Goldstein that then authorized Jordan and some side musicians to tour under the name.

The defendants, which include a litany of entities including Universal Music Publishing, ASCAP, the Harry Fox Agency and Rhino Entertainment, are alleged to be using the original War members' names and images to fraudulently promote "New War" gigs, including a summer tour kicking off this month.

The original members, which now tour under the name Low Rider Band, say the promotion of New War (including this site, wartheband.com) has competed with promotion of their own concerts and caused fans of War to be confused. They attach to the complaint some examples of deceptive ads touting the New War releases as coming from the Original War, as well as some photos of the Original War included in promos for the New War tour.

The 10-count complaint also claims that a 2007 case between the original members and Goldstein ended with a judge saying Goldstein didn't need to pay contractual royalties to the original members. They believe that ruling thus terminated the previous grants of rights to Goldstein, allowing them to exploit their songs as they wish. Interesting theory.

The “Original War” members are represented by Kenneth Freundlich of Beverly Hills.

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