12:03pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Jefferson Starship Guitarist Sues Ex-Bandmates Over Name Use
Jefferson Starship's lead guitarist says his former bandmates and their new colleagues have been using the group's name and his likeness without permission.
Craig Chaquico says that when Paul Kantner left the band in 1985 the remaining members signed an agreement to retire the Jefferson Starship name. Decades later, he says David Frieberg and Donny Baldwin have breached that deal and are performing with other musicians and selling merchandise that bears the band's original name.
Back in the 1990s, Kantner toured with various musicians under the name Jefferson Starship and Chaquico objected. They ultimately settled and the guitarist gave Kantner, and only Kantner, permission to use the name. Chaquico says he believes Kantner received similar permission from some of the others who signed the 1985 agreement.
Freiberg joined Kantner in 2005 and Baldwin was added in 2008. Until Kantner's death in 2016, the group toured under the name Jefferson Starship.
"Because Chaquico only granted Kantner permission to use the Jefferson Starship name, Chaquico’s permission terminated upon Kantner’s death," writes attorney David Swift of Kinsella Weitzman. "Chaquico has repeatedly informed Freiberg and Baldwin that they do not have his permission to continue performing as Jefferson Starship or to sell merchandise using the name, and that they are doing so in violation of the 1985 Agreement."
The guitarist says the unauthorized use of the band's name is tarnishing its legacy — and his own.
"To make matters worse, Defendants have repeatedly and systematically used images of the original Jefferson Starship lineup, which include images of Chaquico, to promote their band and their performances both in concert posters, on their Facebook page and on their website — a blatant attempt to pass off their current band as the original, world-renowned, Jefferson Starship and to trade off of Chaquico’s goodwill," writes Swift.
The other current bandmembers, Chris Smith, Jude Gold and Catherine Richardson, are also named as defendants in the suit. Chaquico is suing Freiberg and Baldwin for breach of contract, and all of the defendants for claims relating to his right of publicity and unfair business practices. He's seeking an injunction to stop the band from using the Jefferson Starship name and his likeness, plus actual and punitive damages.
A representative for the bandmembers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.