Aerosmith’s drummer wanted to play at the Grammys — so he sued the band to do it

The classic rock band Aerosmith will be performing at this weekend’s Grammy Awards ceremony, but when they do, it will be without founding member Joey Kramer, their drummer of 50 years. Kramer filed a lawsuit against the group to regain his place with them at the ceremony, but it was denied. 

In April 2019, Kramer suffered minor shoulder injuries that forced him to miss dates on the band’s “Deuces Are Wild” residency in Las Vegas. His drum tech John Douglas filled in, but when Kramer tried to return, they threw him a curveball – if he wanted to come back, he would have to re-audition, and the rest of the band would evaluate his performance to see if he could still play well enough to rejoin the band. 

Aerosmith said they invited Kramer to rejoin the group, but he “has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission for the last 6 months.” 

“Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week,” the band said. 

Kramer, for his part, sued the six companies jointly owned by the five band members for breach of contract. However, Kramer said that the lawsuit was not about money. 

“I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers for our collective lifetime contributions to the music industry,” he said in a statement. “Neither the MusiCares’ Person of the Year Award nor the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement honors can ever be repeated.” 

Kramer’s lawsuit was denied by a Massachusetts court, which said he “has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band’s business interests.” 

With the lawsuit out of the way, it would seem that’s the end of the story. However, CNBC spoke with attorneys and music industry professionals, some of whom said that this is not over. 

“From a publicity angle, this is not the best look for the band,” said Tommy Marz, founder of the music site Sound Vapors. “You’re talking about an original member of the band that fans have come to love and expect to see on stage.”

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