Live lead guitarist Chad Taylor and lead singer Chris Shinn perform during a sound check in March at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.
Live lead guitarist Chad Taylor and lead singer Chris Shinn perform during a sound check in March at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. (FLIPSIDE CHRIS DUNN )

YORK, PA -- This week, Action Front Unlimited, a corporation that owns trademarks for the rock group Live, filed a federal lawsuit against the band's former lead singer Ed Kowalczyk.

In the suit, Action Front alleges that Kowalczyk is misleading fans by branding himself "Ed Kowalczyk of Live."

Read the lawsuit here.

Patrick Dahlheimer, Chad Gracey and Chad Taylor, along with Kowalczyk, formed Live in York during the late 1980s. The band went on to sell millions of albums.

According to the suit, the band members formed a company in or around 1989 called Action Front Unlimited Inc., "to furnish their services as a rock band. At all times, since its incorporation each of the four Band Members has been a 25% shareholder and director of (Action Front Unlimited)."

The suit goes on to say that in late 2009, Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor "elected to remove Kowalczyk from the band Live as a result of certain disagreements between him and the other Band Members."

Those disagreements date to 2005, according to a separate lawsuit filed in May 2010 in New York. In that filing, Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor allege Kowalczyk and the band's longtime manager, David Levin, violated terms of a contract.

The 2010 suit alleges that, "in 2005, Kowalczyk presented the plaintiffs with an ultimatum: Kowalczyk would quit the group Live unless plaintiffs agreed to give Kowalczyk ... sole writing credit for all songs embodied on future Live albums."

Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor agreed to Kowalczyk's terms, the filing states, "out of respect for their decades-long friendship ... and because the plaintiffs placed a high value on keeping the classic lineup of Live together."

According to the suit filed in 2010, Kowalczyk was to pay the other three members a percentage of an advance and publishing income. The suit alleges that Kowalczyk didn't pay the full amount due to each member.

Ed Kowalczyk, former lead singer of Live, performs a solo show.
Ed Kowalczyk, former lead singer of Live, performs a solo show. (SUBMITTED)

The 2010 suit states that when Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor learned about the lapsed payments, they repeatedly demanded to be paid in full, but Levin said they were not entitled to the money.

Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor then terminated Levin as a business manager and, in 2009, parted ways with Kowalczyk, who began a solo career.

But, according to the suit filed this week by Action Front Unlimited, Kowalczyk continued to use the Live trademark. Action Front Unlimited states it's entitled to an injunction against Kowalczyk and asks the court for maximum damages of $2 million.

In the 2010 lawsuit, Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor seek to recoup $2.6 million, plus interest and punitive damages. That case remains open.

Taylor said the lawsuit was a last resort.

"We have exhausted every effort known to man to try and reach some sort of peaceful accord with Ed," he said during a Thursday phone interview.

In a text, Taylor wrote "the legal drama ... pales in comparison to the personal nature and disappointment of losing a childhood friend."

The last time Gracey said he spoke face-to-face with Kowalczyk was in July 2009. The group's only communication with Kowalczyk, he added, has been through text.

"It has been hard," Gracey said during a Thursday phone interview. "(Ed) was like a brother to all three of us. ... It's painful."

Kowalczyk and Levin filed an answer to the 2010 lawsuit. (Read the 2010 lawsuit and read Kowalczyk's entire response.)

It states that, in 2009, "Kowalczyk - the group's lead singer, the author of virtually all of the group's compositions, and the moving force behind the group's success - decided to pursue a career as a solo artist. Motivated by jealousy and animus, plaintiffs commenced the present lawsuit on the eve of the release of Kowalczyk's solo album and just as he was about to embark on a tour in support of that album."

Previous attempts to reach Kowalczyk have been unsuccessful.

Pat Abdalla and Matt Eyer contributed to this report.

@FlipSidePA; 771-2051

For more on Live visit www.flipsidepa.com/live.

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