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JUL
23
4 MOS

Former Asia Singer, Fired Las Vegas Musical Director Sues Casino

John Payne claims his creative contributions were copyrighted and that his rights assignment was executed under duress.

After being fired from the Las Vegas musical Raiding the Rock Vault, co-director John Payne has fired off an expansive lawsuit that claims breach of contract, copyright violations and slander.

Payne was a lead singer in the British prog rock group Asia from 1992 to 2006. Along with Grammy-winning record producer David Kershenbaum, Payne helped develop the format behind Raiding the Rock Vault, which plays at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and takes audiences on a musical journey from 1948 to 1989. The show features members of some well-known bands and songs from The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin and other acts.

In May, Payne was suspended and the following month he was terminated. Now, in a lawsuit against Rock Vault Tours, the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and its new owner Westgate Resorts that's somewhat reminiscent of Julie Taymor's suit after being let go from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Payne is asserting that the show can't simply go on without properly compensating him for his contributions.

According to the suit, which has now been removed to Nevada federal court, Payne and Rock Vault Tours entered into an agreement that provided the plaintiff, as co-writer, with 2.5 percent of net box-office receipts until costs were recouped and then 3.5 percent thereafter. Payne also got royalties as a co-director: 2 percent of net profits until recoupment and then bumped up to 3 percent.

Payne's challenge in the lawsuit might be overcoming an agreement assigning his ownership interest and royalties.

He says he was told last May that he assign rights or be fired. He signed "under duress," he says. "Accordingly, the agreement was not supported by adequate consideration."

He's now alleging that the defendants breached a performance agreement to pay him $1,000 for each Raiding the Rock Vault show (besides being co-writer and co-director, Payne was a bassist and a vocalist in the show) and breached the royalties agreement.

He's asserting copyright infringement, pointing to the show's format being registered with the Copyright Office as "Dramatic Work and Music; or Choreography."

He's also suing for slander for unspecified public comments made about his suspension by the defendants.

And he's suing for an alleged violation of his publicity rights. Allegedly, the defendants used him to advertise the show even after he was suspended.

Here's the complaint.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner