The music world was turned on its ear yesterday when news of horror-punk mavericks the Misfits reuniting with estranged frontman Glenn Danzig broke. Truthfully, 24 hours later, it still doesn’t seem entirely real, yet here we are: Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle will perform at Riot Fest in Denver and Chicago this September, and perhaps never again. Substream has spoken with two different sources who each said that the trio, dubbed the Original Misfits, is getting a $1 million total payout from Riot Fest for the two gigs. But here’s the crazier thing: This almost happened two years ago and no one even knew about it.
Credit writer James Greene, Jr., who wrote a book about the Misfits titled This Music Leaves Stains, for unearthing court documents from Danzig and Only’s most recent legal battle in 2014. In them, it is revealed that as a potential solution to their ongoing dispute over who controls the Misfits trademarks and can license them out, Danzig’s lawyer suggest the two reunite the band for a lucrative set of reunion shows with a possible album, as well. We’ll let Greene take it from here:
“That December, Danzig’s attorney suggested his client (who dissolved the group in 1983 after a six year run) and the defendant (who reformed the Misfits without Danzig in 1995) agree to a certain amount of reunion concerts, split the profits, split all future revenue from the disputed trademarks, and consider entering a new licensing agreement together with a major merchandiser. Only was receptive, so negotiations began for the first Misfits shows with Danzig in thirty years.
A proposed 60/40 reunion profit split in Danzig’s favor was leveled to 50/50. A ten date concert tour shrank down to six—but “at least one” reunion album was added. All other participating Misfits, no matter what their stature, were to be treated as “paid employees.” In response to Only’s demand for built-in protections to ensure Danzig would actually follow through with these gigs, Danzig’s attorney wrote, “I really don’t think this will be an issue as Danzig wants to do the reunion shows” (a $250k penalty was put in place should either party fail to complete the reunion obligations).
Initially Danzig envisioned the reunion happening in 2017 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Misfits. Only wanted it “as soon as practicable.” Only also wasn’t fond of billing these performances as “the Original Misfits” (though no alternate name was suggested). The real breakdown, however, was over the same trademark issues that instigated Danzig’s lawsuit in the first place. Confusion as well as contention remained over who owned what and who was entitled to how much of any given piece of Misfits imagery. Specifics failed to be clarified, certain copyrights could not be identified, documents proving anything conclusively could not be produced.”
Neither side could come to agreeable terms with the other, so on February 10, 2015, the idea was officially put to rest when Danzig’s lawyer notified Only’s team that they were going to try the case, which was thrown out by a judge two months later due to insufficient evidence.
Sound crazy? You can take a look at the legal documents yourself to see just how close we were to having a Danzig-fronted Misfits return more than a year ago. Does this mean the Original Misfits’ current reunion is a result of unending litigation? It’s hard to say, but given the pair’s history, anything is possible.