Friday, March 6, 2015

The Little River Band ... The Final Chapter

Yesterday I told you about this angry email I received from some guy named B. Conover regarding the way The Little River Band has been raked over the coals and portrayed in the press lately by music journalists (including this one) regarding the current line-up and their claims to the original band.   

(For the record, B. ... he never gave me his first name ... is pretty serious about all of this ... and also pretty pissed off ... I can tell that he's serious and pissed off because he has sent me the exact same email at least four or five times now!)   

B. is unhappy with the way I covered the recent Little River Band fiasco as it relates to their scheduled (and then cancelled) appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon ... and also the fact that I took the band to task for who they represent themselves to be.    

But apparently he hasn't read all of my other pieces on this because many of the things he's unhappy about have already been explained and addressed.   

Sadly, lead singer and front man Wayne Nelson seems to have taken the brunt of the criticism along the way ... and, as lead spokesman for the group, he has publicly made his feelings known, addressing many of the issues in an effort to present both sides of the story.     

And the key word here, folks, is "business" ... because that's what The Little River Band is ... a business ... and nobody associated with the group has any qualms whatsoever about admitting as such.     

My beef was with the handful of Forgotten Hits Readers who wrote in defending Nelson by stating that my "attacks" were unjustified since he was, in fact, a founding member of the band ... but he WASN'T.     

For the record, my beef has never been with Wayne Nelson ... he's been with the band for over thirty years and wrote and sang a couple of their last hits.  ANY guy who puts in thirty years with a band deserves recognition for his efforts ... as well as some bit of "ownership" to the brand ... but Wayne Nelson doesn't OWN the rights to The Little River Band ... that distinction belongs to a guy named Stephen Housden, another former, latter-day member of the group, who had the business savvy to tie up the legal rights.  Housden doesn't even tour with the band anymore ... and hasn't in years ... the general belief is that he just sits at home and counts the money his touring machine rakes in.   

As stated here numerous times, the original line-up consisted of Glenn Shorrock, Rick Formosa, Beeb Birtles, Graham Goble, Roger McLachlan and Derek Pellicci. Nelson joined the line-up in 1980.  That's four years ... and seven of the group's biggest hits ... after the fact.  But Nelson is no slouch ... his contributions (which include another six Top 40 Hits including a couple of my favorites, "The Night Owls", "Take It Easy On Me" and "The Other Guy" have been duly noted.)  He has spent MANY years with The Little River Band and should be recognized as a key and integral member of the band ... but he was NOT a "founding member" ... simply put, you can't rewrite history 40 years later.   

My other big objection was the current line-up going on Jimmy Fallon's show to perform as part of "their" 40th Anniversary ... when, in fact, NO current member was with the band 40 years ago when the band first started ... to me that's a blatant abuse of the band's legacy ... and an attempt to take credit where it really isn't deserved.  The band's career was made by the songwriting and vocal talents and contributions of original members Shorrock, Birtles, Goble and Formosa  While there may have been (and apparently still is) a contractual agreement in place between every former (and current) member of the band over the past 40 years stipulating that they are absolutely prohibited from any use of the name once they part ways, that doesn't give the "new guys" the right to lay claim to the very foundation of the band ... THEY WEREN'T there!!!

All of this being said, I have to admit that Wayne Nelson brings up some very good points in his arguments ... and, as Don Henley sang many years ago, "There's three sides to every story, baby ... there's yours and there's mine and there's the cold hard truth".  I believe there is some element of truth in everything Wayne tells us.  Over the years we've seen many, many very talented musicians make a decision to leave "a good thing" in pursuit of something they truly believed was a better opportunity, only to come to regret that decision later on when things didn't work out QUITE the way they thought they would ... and then experience difficulty finding their way back (as Paul McCartney taught us) to where they once belonged.   

The Little River Band has been an "evolving process" over the past 40 years ... COUNTLESS members have come and gone over the years ... some (including Nelson) have even left and come back ... so when you weigh Nelson's "FACTS" against much of what has been written, it DOES open up a new perspective on reality ... and just might change the way you judge them moving forward.  (If nothing else, it certainly provides some interesting and enlightening food for thought.)  

So here is B. Conover's original email, verbatim, along with a published statement by current Little River Band lead vocalist and front man Wayne Nelson.  Please read it ... and digest it ... as we close this final chapter on The Little River Band in Forgotten Hits.    

Please get the story right.  You can not carry on commenting about a group or event unless you know all the sides of the story and ALL the facts.   The Little River Band never ceased to be The Little River Band -  they didn't stop and pick up years later with all new people and "call themselves" The Little River Band.   People came and went, and when the supposed last of the originals left, there were still guys in the band who had been playing in the band with them for 8 to 15 years!  Wayne Nelson has been with the band for OVER 30 years, as has Steven Housden (who is still involved in recording, but not touring).  The band is NOT celebrating their 40th year anniversary by saying the present members have been there 40 years ... they are celebrating 40 YEARS OF THE MUSIC AND THE BAND AS A WHOLE, considering all members, present and past.   Please, for God's sake, be fair.  Comments that they are making money by playing other members' music make them not original ... how many bands / singers make hits and sing music composed by others?  There are so many gifted songwriters who do not perform, but their music is out there because of other performers.    

The present band (except for the drummer) has been together since 2006 - nine years - longer together as a group than the "original" members ever were.   By not referring to them as a legitimate band is a travesty.  The current rant from the previous members, with all the denigration and name calling has caused an immense upset within the band and those many, many fans who listen to them present the LRB musical catalog as well as the new music.   How many "tribute" bands record new music and get on the charts?   Look at how many albums have been produced, both studio and live, since 1996, containing new music, written by some of the "non-original" members and other songwriters! By your standards of what is a legitimate band, we would not have heard "Who Made the Moon", albums such as "Test of Time", "Where We Started From", live performance albums or so many of the new tunes in "Cuts Like A Diamond".   Nor would whole groups and generations of new fans be introduced to the LRB catalog, for which the songwriters CONTINUE to receive royalties.  Those members who left the band's business, decided to sign away their rights to the band name for a negotiated price.    

Please take a moment to read - to at least take into consideration - the other side, the feelings of those being persecuted by all the press. and whose livelihood is being affected by this mess.  Be the FIRST to follow up all the negative press from one side with this present information from the other side and allow both sides to hear each other:

MEDIA ALERT:  Little River Band lead singer, Wayne Nelson, sets the record straight 
“My message to Glenn Shorrock … the facts are the facts.  Freedom of speech does not allow you to change the facts or be 
above the law.”
Los Angeles, CA - January 23, 2015 - Wayne Nelson To Former Members of Little River Band and to the Australian Press –TELL THE TRUTH!!
“I feel the need to make a personal statement in reply to the lies, misinformation, and deceptive speculations that have been put forward by Glenn Shorrock, Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles, and the many Australian journalists who are publishing their comments. Mr Shorrock’s latest 4-letter rant is especially embarrassing to Little River Band, its fans, and its legacy … but attached to it are also unconfirmed and unresearched claims that have no basis in fact. Free speech may allow opinions to be written, but it doesn’t allow the irresponsible repetition of false and defamatory information. So, in response to the latest flurry of press regarding Little River Band, here are the facts:
It was stated that there is no Australian in the band, and that there hasn’t been one since 1997 when Derek Pellicci left …
FACT IS: There has ALWAYS been an Australian standing on a Little River Band stage. Specifically:
  • 1981 – 2006 - The person who owns the Little River Band trademark globally is Stephen Housden, an Australian citizen and touring member of Little River Band from 1981 until 2006.
  • 1997 – Present - When Mr. Housden rebuilt the band’s lineup in 1997 after Derek Pellicci’s departure, it consisted of Australian citizens and residents. Greg Hind, an Australian citizen, has been in the band since 2000 and appeared on stage in every show since.
It has been stated numerous times that the trademark, name and good will of Little River Band has somehow been stolen …
FACT IS:  Each and every person who was a director of a company involved with the ongoing business of Little River Band is and was well aware of a simple stipulation … if they left the band or were fired, the rights to the trademark and name stayed with the remaining band members.
  • Mr. Shorrock was paid very handsomely when he sold his shares of the Little River Band Company in 1996. However, the money involved is secondary to the spirit and understanding of all band members… when you leave, you leave the name behind, and with it you give up all rights to use the name in the future.
It has been stated and continues to be implied that the founding members have been “muzzled” and prohibited from speaking about their connection to the band’s history…
FACT IS - No one can, nor has tried, to stop any former member of the band from speaking about his past.
  • According to Australian and U.S. Federal court orders, the former members are precluded from using the name or trademark to perform as, or make false and misleading statements about them being Little River Band, or the “real” Little River Band, or “an alternative” Little River Band. They gave up those rights, and have been legally enjoined from make statements that confuse that issue.
It has been stated that the former members receive no monies due to this controversy over the use of the trademark…
FACT IS - International radio airplay, record sales, and downloads still earn the songwriters and former musicians the royalties they are eligible for.
  • One case in point…the continuing touring and exposure of Little River Band music has helped take the sales of the Greatest Hits CD from approximately 2 million in the early 1990’s to near 3 million today.
  • Every time the band “comes to town,” local radio plays the hits in a higher rotation, which earns royalties for the songwriters.
  • To imply they earn nothing from our touring activity is absolutely untrue. To that end, both Graeham Goble and David Briggs were supporters of Greg Hind’s addition to the lineup prior to his finally joining in 2000. Knowing his talents as a singer, songwriter, and performer, both worked with Greg in the ‘90s…and encouraged him to join the band to ensure that the vocals stayed strong and that LRB continued to be successful in the US. Why?...because a successful Little River Band earns money for those who wrote songs and performed on past CDs.
It has been stated that there is no one in the current lineup that has any connection to Little River Band’s past history, nor made any contributions to the same…
FACT IS – I have remained intricately involved with Little River Band and its history and its legacy for over 30 years.
  • I was asked by the founding members in 1979 to join the band.
  • I was soon put into the role of a lead singer for two of the band’s major hits, The Night Owls and Take It Easy On Me.
  • I was the first and only American added to the corporate structure of Little River Band. (If nothing else, my unique position in the band’s history of being the only member from outside Australia is worth some mention.)
  • By being the first lead singer to sing a U.S. hit (other than Mr. Shorrock), Night Owls, is an obvious contribution to Little River Band’s history.
  • There are also many “behind the scenes” moments that could be mentioned. An important one for me and for LRB happened at Montserrat, with George Martin producing the Time Exposure album … my first with the band. Take It Easy On Me was being treated as an “album track” … we counted to four, played the song, then stopped. I felt the song was stronger than that, and suggested that the arrangement of the song could be more dynamic with a piano / vocal intro, strong second verse, etc. Peter Jones nailed the piano intro immediately … and George Martin jumped on the talk back and said, “that’s the way we’ll cut it!” Would the song have been a hit otherwise … no way to know. Regardless…

  • FACT IS - Night Owls and Take It Easy On Me were hits in 5th and 6th years of a record breaking run of top 10 hits for Little River Band in America. No one had ever done that six years in a row … not The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Eagles, The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, America … no one but Little River Band. To my way of thinking, that’s a strong connection to the band’s history and legacy and continued success.
  • In total since 1980, my name, vocals, and bass playing have appeared on 20 Little River Band CD’s, 11 singles, 3 live videos, and countless TV shows in Australia, America, New Zealand, and Europe.
  • I have performed with every lineup that has recorded original music for Little River Band.
  • If that’s not a connection to the band’s history, I don’t know what would qualify? I challenge all journalists to tell the truth and conduct the proper research that is expected of a professional in the media.  
I’d also like to add that the current lineup of the band has put in a lot of years and contributed time, effort, and talent to keeping the LRB legacy alive by writing, recording, and playing great music. Greg Hind is in his 16th year … Chris Marion his 10th … Rich Herring 9th. I acknowledge that there may have been more radio airplay and CD sales in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, but there is equal commitment to excellence and legacy in 2015 as there was in 1980. Reviews of the live show and for our new CD are a testament to that. If you’re part of the band from years 25-39, you’re part of the history, as far as I’m concerned.
To the issue of specific allegations by individuals, particularly from BS&G …
Mr. Goble now claims that he didn't know what he was signing when documents were put in front of him. As mentioned, in the last few weeks he's added an insinuation that there was some kind of "voodoo lawyering" in which his signature ended up on documents that he didn't see or sign.
FACT IS - I’ve seen copies of the documents in question ... they are very simple and plainly stated in their purpose. There is no deceptive or difficult language to deal with. Mr. Goble signed them in keeping with the same stipulations that had always been in place regarding band membership and its trademark.
Mr Birtles recently came after me for my use of the phrase “revolving door” when describing the changes in band personnel … under the banner "Screw You To Current Little River Band” (I can’t help but notice an eloquent trend from former members!) …
FACT IS - I didn’t attach the phrase to Little River Band. It was first used in liner notes for a box set called Reminiscing … notes written by an Australian journalist named Glenn A. Baker, to whom Beeb and the band had turned many times in the ‘70s and ‘80s for his journalistic excellence.  Mr. Birtles’ vote to oust Glenn Shorrock was part and parcel of the dismantling of Little River Band’s core in 1982 at a time when we needed to stick together the most. Mr. Birtles then walked out a year later, dissatisfied with what he had helped create. Earlier in 1983, after John Farnham had been fronting the band for about a year, Mr. Birtles and Mr Goble pulled me aside and said they wanted me to replace John … one of the greatest singers in Australian history!! Revolving door indeed.
Mr. Shorrock has made the most noise lately, including the claim that we are "grinding the name of the band into the dust". In the past he has repeatedly said that we are “sullying the Little River Band name” by touring. In response to his f-bomb headlines, I adamantly claim otherwise.
Mr. Shorrock declined offers to rejoin the band in 1998 after Mr Pellicci’s departure … claiming that he could make more money playing clubs in Australia and wasn’t interested in touring with Little River Band any more.
So I make the exact opposite claim to Mr Shorrock's ... by creating new music in the studio, and by continuing to tour with an excellent band who respects and delivers the high standard of musicianship and vocal harmonies that Little River Band is known for, we have lifted the band out of the dust that Glenn would have left it in. Countless comments to us by fans of Little River Band music, and of this lineup, bear my claim out.
When we perform we are thanked by fans for keeping the music alive, and for caring enough to do the work, get to where they live, and present a dynamic show that brings back great memories for concertgoers of all ages, and makes them feel happy. We are not showing up with masks and dark hats and trying to convince people that we are anyone but who we are … the current lineup of Little River Band in its ongoing history. For the record … that’s myself, Greg Hind, Chris Marion, Rich Herring, and Ryan Ricks. Any statements or implications to the contrary are false and insulting to all of us.
Most importantly, to our fans …
The trigger for this latest eruption of journalistic spin and negativity centers around our scheduled appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. You deserve to know how that situation unfolded, and why our appearance was finally cancelled.
Here’s the simplest way to describe the impasse without a lot of music publisher’s jargon … any repeated showings of a song on a TV show, webcasts, or movies requires the granting of permission by the song writer and the publisher of the song for those “reruns”. Industry wide, that permission (called synchronization rights) is granted as a matter of course … especially for shows like Fallon’s or Letterman’s or Leno’s in the past. But when NBC tried to gain those rights from the publisher who holds that control, the writer, Graeham Goble, refused to grant ANY such rights.
We knew we didn’t need permission for a single live performance of an older song, meaning we could have performed on the show.   However, that didn’t fit NBC’s wishes. Every attempt was made for a compromise with the new music versus the old, but as the emails and the news articles started to swirl with Mr. Shorrock’s comments as the headline (Fallon go F’ Yourself), the Fallon show understandably chose to cancel us because the whole situation was getting too messy to continue with.
However …
Little River Band has proven time and again that it is bigger than one person or one lineup.
FACT IS:  There are no founding members in the band, by their own individual choice.  Each original band member one by one, chose to "get off the bus.”  They divorced themselves from the band and from the use of its name, trademark, and good will (and some more than once).
They will forever be acknowledged and remembered for their impressive credentials and contributions. And Little River Band will continue to tour and carry the band’s legacy forward to the delight of our fans.” 
Most Sincerely,
Wayne Nelson
Over the course of the last 40 years, the Little River Band has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and set a record for having Top 10 hits for six consecutive years - the first band to achieve that mark. According to BMI, ‘Reminiscing’ has garnered rare status with over 5 million airplays on America radio with ‘Lady’ close behind with over 4 million airplays. The band is Australian born and American led by singer Wayne Nelson who joined the band in early 1980. The band will embark on a U.S. tour spanning more than 150 dates in 2015 celebrating the 40th Anniversary beginning January 17, 2015.
For more information about cities and concert dates, visit
For media information, contact Sheila Stewart at 310.593.4413 (o) or 303.378.2022 (c) or

Please note that you see "the Band" is referred to when talking about the history ... not "I" or "we".
In the case of The Little River Band, they seem to have found a loophole and flaw in the Truth In Music Laws established by Jon Bowman (Bowzer of Sha-Na-Na fame ... and currently a promoter and MC/host of many great oldies concerts on the east coast) several years ago. 

This law stipulates that any band performing under the "legacy brand" has to contain at least ONE original member ... or have the legal rights to the use of the name.  The current line up does NOT contain an original member ... and the legal rights to the name were purchased by someone who is also NOT an original member ... and doesn't even tour and perform with the group.  (Like I said ... it's a "business".)   

I couldn't help but wonder how Bowman feels today about the current state of the Truth In Music Law that he founded and pushed into law across the country.   

Let's face it - SO many things have changed in the years in the show-biz world today ... not the least of which has been the factor that so many of our great, beloved artists have passed away over these last several years, making it harder and harder to maintain the integrity and original intent of all of his Truth Is Music Law efforts.  (When Jon first began his campaign it was to do right by artists like The Drifters and The Coasters and The Platters and many of the original early rock and roll / R&B / doo-wop groups would laid the foundation for what came to be the music we all know and love ... but the fact is that most of those original guys are gone now ... and enterprising [and often under-handed] musicians and agents have been snatching up the legal rights to many of the names trying to make a quick buck for themselves with little regard for the fans or the caliber of what they put up there on that stage.)  

My question to Jon, circa 2015:  How do you view this situation currently ... and what, if anything, do you think can be done moving forward to insure the proper artists being credited for their work and contribution to the music of our lives?  What needs to be changed or modified to make The Truth In Music Act viable again and keep it on track in pursuit of its original intentions?  

Hopefully Jon will see this and respond ... and if and when he does, we'll pass those views on to our readers.  

Meanwhile, if you DO decide to go see The Little River Band anytime soon, please know that you will be presented with an entertaining and faithful show.  OUR goal was simply to have the truth out there and represented correctly from BOTH sides of the stage.  After this much press these past few months, I'd say we've accomplished our mission ... and can now close this final chapter on the band.  And I ALSO think that Wayne Nelson has made a commendable attempt at explaining that which many of us didn't take into consideration when presenting only part of "the facts".  The fans now know exactly what they're getting ... but the BAND needs to acknowledge who they really are, too.  Once that bond has been established, I have no problem with this anymore ... it's great music and we love it.  (Now if Shorrock, Birtles and Goble ever decide to get back together again and take their act on the road ... under ANY moniker ... you can bet that I'll want to see THAT show, too!  And at that point, we'll revert back to our Buyer Beware stance and let the "customers" decide who they'd really rather see.)  Man, these guys couldn't pick a better time to do so ... with all the focus on these events ... and free publicity ... they could probably sell out a world-wide tour right now.  (By the way, word is that Glenn Shorrock will be touring ... and performing Little River Band material ... as part of Ringo's All-Starr Band this summer ... gonna have to grab some tickets to THAT one, too!)  kk