Cro-Mags Lawsuit: Harley Flanagan Wins Band Name – Rolling Stone
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Cro-Mags Lawsuit: Harley Flanagan Wins Band Name

John Joseph and Mackie Jayson’s version of the group will continue to get to use the name for the next three months before switching to Cro-Mags “JM”

Harley Flanagan, a founding member of the New York punk band The Cro-Mags, in Harlem, June 10, 2016. Flanagan's journey from hoodlum to punk legend to jiujitsu instructor is recounted in his new memoir "Hard-Core: Life of My Own." (Alex Wroblewski/The New York Times)

Harley Flanagan has won control of the Cro-Mags band name.

Alex Wroblewski/The New York Times/Redux

After ages of quarrel, the members of the New York hardcore group the Cro-Mags have reached an agreement over the band name. Bassist-vocalist Harley Flanagan announced Monday that he had won the rights to use the name, while vocalist John Joseph and drummer Mackie Jayson would continue to tour as Cro-Mags “JM.” There will still be about three months’ more confusion, though, until Joseph’s Cro-Mags starts using the “JM” suffix.

“I, as the founder of the band and bass player on all Cro-Mags albums … will be performing as Cro-Mags going forward and have exclusive ownership of the name as such in all commercial purposes worldwide,” Flanagan said in a statement. “During this transition period, to confirm which band you want to see, please check on our websites or social media pages.”

Flanagan filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court last May claiming Joseph and Jayson had taken control of the group, according to the New York Post. He claimed he had come up with the idea of the band in 1981 (Joseph has disputed this) but that in 2002 he decided to stop touring to help raise his first son. Around this time, the singer and drummer started using the moniker without his permission. Flanagan said in the lawsuit that he’d registered the Cro-Mags trademark for merchandise in 2009, for recording 2010 and then renewed it in 2017.

In 2012, Flanagan stabbed and bit Cro-Mags members Mike Couls and William Berardo backstage at CBGB fest. Joseph told the Post that the attack was part of a feud wherein the Flanagan allegedly stole 10s of thousands of dollars in revenue from a European tour. The paper claimed Flanagan yelled, “They think they’re going to play my fucking music that I helped write,” before the attack. Couls and Berardo filed a lawsuit against him. The fate of that lawsuit is unknown.

Late last year, Joseph hurled many insults at Flanagan on the Bailstreet Podcast, calling him a snitch and a thief and that he has swastika tattoos. “I had this kid’s back from day one,” Joseph said. “Been a brother to him the whole time. And then he presents this thing like we’re the backstabbers, like, because he came back to the band we tried to do this shit again in 2000. And it was just more scumbag bullshit, and I’m like, why the fuck? That’s it, I’m done. He quit, and we went on.”

Joseph’s Cro-Mags recently wrapped a tour supporting Hatebreed. They’re scheduled to play the Mission Ready Festival in Germany this June.

Flanagan’s version of the Cro-Mags will open for the Misfits in Los Angeles on June 29th. Rise Against, the Distillers and the Anti-Nowhere League will also play that show. He’ll be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band’s 1989 album, Best Wishes — which featured neither Joseph nor Jayson — on a run of shows this summer, according to Brooklyn Vegan.

Harley Flanagan’s full statement:

“After many years of confusion, rumor and dispute, I, John Joseph and Mackie Jayson have reached a settlement designed to avoid any further confusion about the Cro-Mags mark and band. I, as the founder of the band and bass player on all Cro-Mags albums (Age of Quarrel, Best Wishes, Alpha Omega, Near Death Experience and Revenge) will be performing as Cro-Mags going forward and have exclusive ownership of the name as such in all commercial purposes world-wide. There will be a three-month transition during which time I will be performing as Cro-Mags and John and Mackie’s shows may still be advertised as Cro-Mags as they finalize their name change to Cro-Mags ‘JM’. During this transition period, to confirm which band you want to see, please check on our websites or social media pages. As of August 1, 2019, all shows under the Cro-Mags name (on its own) will feature me, and all of John and Mackie’s shows will be under the name Cro-Mags “JM”. Thanks for your patience as we wrap this up. Now that we have come to an agreement, I look forward to continuing to deliver music from the entire Cro-Mags catalogue the fans have come to know and love, be able to perform live without confusion and continue to create new music with the distinctive sound that is Cro-Mags.”

 

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