SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Two original members of the rock ban Sugar Ray sued frontman Mark McGrath, claiming he smeared them on Twitter and cheated them of money.
Bass player Matthew Murphy Karges and drummer Charles Stanton Frazier sued McGrath and guitarist Rodney Sheppard in Superior Court, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment and other counts. They accuse McGrath of a "series of self-serving and vindictive actions."
"Not content to simply misappropriate the Sugar Ray trademark by licensing it to a newly created shell corporation or unlawfully divert an additional 48 percent of the band's revenues into his own pocket, McGrath spent the last year engaging in a bitter campaign to destroy the personal and professional reputations of Frazier and Karges," the lawsuit states.
The 29-complaint includes another 35 pages of attachments, including a management contract, a trademark license agreement, tweets from McGrath, and February 2012 a Rolling Article headlined: "Mark McGrath: 'I Understand Why People Don't Like Me.'"
Formed in the late 1980s, Sugar Ray signed with Atlantic Records in 1994. Each band member entered into an equal partnership in Crown Town Entertainment to distribute the band's non-touring profits, the lawsuit states.
Originally a funk metal band, the band transformed into a pop rock act after breaking through with chart-topper "Fly." The band then formed an entity called S.M.M.R.C. with newest member DJ Craig Bullock to manage tour revenue, according to the complaint.
From 1995 to 2010, Frazier and Karges claim, McGrath shirked his duties to the band, with moody, "erratic behavior," and his commitment to co-host entertainment news show, "Extra." The singer also made an "outrageous" demand for at least $10,000 per live show, the lawsuit states.
McGrath insisted on traveling first class on airlines while the rest of the band flew economy, and would perform only on weekends in convenient locations, the complaint states. The plaintiffs claim McGrath's behavior cost the band millions of dollars.
In the summer of 2008, after McGrath's television gig ended, the band recorded a new album, "Music for Cougars."
Frazier and Karges claim that McGrath "hijacked" the album, freezing them out of recording sessions and rewriting it with new producers.
Though "Music for Cougars" was not well received, Frazier and Karges claim McGrath insisted they tour to promote it.
"Dissatisfied with his portion of the touring revenues, McGrath proceeded to engage in a concerted and measured effort to push Karges, Frazier, and Bullock out of the band for the purpose of capturing the bulk of their share of revenues for himself," the lawsuit states.
First in McGrath's sights was Bullock, and then Frazier and Karges, the plaintiffs say. They claim Bullock walked after McGrath grew jealous of his success as a DJ. Frazier and Karges say they never quit the band, but went on hiatus so McGrath could get a handle on his temper.
Frazier claims he decided to take a break after a 2011 incident at Disney in Florida, when "McGrath became enraged and unleashed a profanity laced tirade on Frazier."
Karges claims he was forced out of the band because McGrath was unhappy that he planned to run a record label owned by Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rogers.
The plaintiffs say they agreed to take a discounted cut of revenue from S.M.M.R.C. as part of a "hiatus" agreement, but that last year McGrath refused to renew the agreement. Instead, they claim, he formed Maro Inc. with Sheppard to negotiate a licensing agreement with Crown.
The agreement allegedly gave Crown a 12 percent cut of touring revenue. Frazier and Karges say they never gave their blessing as equal partners in Crown.
"Because the fee is based on net rather than gross revenues, McGrath and Sheppard have the ability to manipulate the figures, including incurring extravagant and non-touring business expenses, without any available recourse by Crown Town," the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs claim McGrath diverted and misappropriated touring revenue, and attempted to register the trademark "Mark McGrath's Sugar Ray" in early 2012.
They claim that McGrath stated in interviews and on his Twitter account that they had quit the band, and that he and Sheppard had written most of the band's songs.
"'[S]ince those 2 left, we've become a world class band,'" McGrath allegedly wrote in one tweet.
In another, he wrote: "'Sugar Ray is very happy with Stan cooking taquitos at the Fair and Murphy moving unit for Aaron Rodgers ... glad you guys admittedly moved on,'" according to the lawsuit.
The complaint also claims that McGrath hired someone to amend the band's Wikipedia entry to make it look like Frazier and Karges had quit.
They also claim that a "fictitious" management company, run by band manager Chip Quigley, collected commissions to which it is not entitled.
The plaintiffs want their cut of touring revenue, and allowing them to rejoin the band.
Named as defendants are McGrath, Sheppard, Maro, Provident Financial Management, Quigley, Emerald Hill Management and Kingdom Entertainment Group.
The plaintiffs are represented by Aaron McKown, with Wrenn Bender, of Irvine.