(CN) - The lead singer and founder of a Led Zeppelin tribute band accused his former band mates of hiding at least $70,000 in band income since he left, and says they stopped paying the band's taxes and used the real Led Zeppelin's propotional materials without permission.
Christopher Klein says he founded Led Zeppelin 2: The Live Experience in 2006, enlisting the services of fellow musicians Paul Kamp, Bruce Lamont, Ian Lee and Matthew Longbons. The band's purpose was to recreate the "sound, atmosphere and appearance of a Led Zeppelin concert" for fans.
In 2010, Klein says he and the other band members formed a corporation to handle band business. Klein, Kamp, Lamont and Lee each owned a 25 percent share in the company, although Klein says the other owners ignored his pleas to draft formal corporate documents, which would have included formal bylaws, shareholders' and other agreements.
Things began to unravel when Klein became frustrated with the band's "sloppy" record keeping and discovered that Kamp and Lee were misappropriating funds for personal use, according to the complaint in federal court in Chicago. Klein briefly assumed the duty of treasurer and secretary in an effort to correct the band's accounting shortfalls, but got frustrated and left the band in July 2011.
Since then, he says the other three band members have continued to tour and sell merchandise, but pocketed most of the money.
Klein says the defendants distributed a video of the band's performance of the Yardbirds song "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" without permission from the copyright owners. They also began advertising their concerts online and selling merchandise with logos and fonts that were "reminiscent" of actual Led Zeppelin promotional materials.
In addition, the band has posted copyrighted concert footage on YouTube, which copyright owners Warner/Chappell Music asked YouTube to remove, according to the complaint.
The defendants have ignored all the warnings and takedown requests, Klein says, adding that requests from his attorney that the band provide him with access to financial records have also been met with silence.
"After plaintiff ceased playing with the band and without his authorization, defendants continue to use his image, biography and recordings in promoting performances," the complaint states.
"Starting from the date on which he ceased performing with the band until the present, plaintiff has not received any dividends, distributions or profits from the company."
Klein says the band eventually handed over 2011 tax returns along with other financial statements, which revealed his percentage of stock had been decreased from 25 to about 11 percent. The documents also revealed the company recorded over $145,000 in gross receipts for 2011, which Klein says is inaccurate.
The band made $128,000 during the first half of 2011, when Klein was treasurer, according to the complaint, so the band's figures would mean that it made just $17,000 during the second half of that year.
And Klein says that doesn't make sense, based on the shows the band performed during that time.
He adds that, "defendants have failed to pay relevant federal and state taxes for current and former employees of the company."
Klein sued for breach of fiduciary duty and seeks a court order requiring the band to produce all financial records and reinstate his proper share in the company.
Daliah Saper of Chicago is representing Klein.