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This Time, Danzig and the Misfits Decided to Hit to the Stage Instead of the Courtroom

Court documents reveal reunion negotiations dating back to 2014

Danzig Live

Danzig performing in 2013. Screenshot via YouTube.

Influential punk band the Misfits have announced performances that will include the reunion of estranged, iconic vocalist Glenn Danzig with fellow original members Jerry Only and Doyle. The news shocked fans who doubted the possibility of a reunion due to longstanding legal disputes between Danzig and Only (a.k.a. Gerald Caiafa), who have been engaged in complex trademark battles for decades. Court documents and new interviews reveal that the band reunited largely as an alternative to further legal disputes.

Court documents reveal that Danzig and Only’s legal teams have been negotiating the terms of reunion shows since as far back as December of 2014. Furthermore, Rolling Stone has published a new interview with Jerry Only, who explained that the 2016 Misfits reunion is the result of a January “legal meeting” that started tense and ended with an agreement. “It was turning into another court battle and it turned into a reunion,” he said.

A judge dismissed Danzig’s 2014 lawsuit in August of that year; however, Danzig amended his complaint shortly thereafter. Publicly available court documents (accessed by this author via Pacer.gov) from December 15, 2014 include a letter from Danzig’s legal team to Caiafa’s. The letter includes the suggestion (from Danzig’s team) that “Glenn and Jerry agree to a number of reunion shows to be negotiated, and split net Misfits guarantees and other proceeds (including merch) 60 (Glenn) /40 (Jerry).” Jerry’s team responded by negotiating the split to an even 50/50. The discussions also include the agreement that “other band members, including Doyle, be paid as employees.” That particular reunion discussion seems to have collapsed – may have laid the groundwork for this year’s reunion.

Why did those 2014 talks fizzle? According to James Greene, Jr. (author of the Misfits biography This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story of the Misfits), “It circled back to the issues that they were fighting over in the first place – over who owned what trademarks and what they were going to use, and reunion merchandise. It certainly seemed like they eventually got to a point where they were both in favor of doing a reunion, but like all the other times, they couldn’t reach terms.”

When I asked James if he thinks the 2016 Misfits reunion was the result of a legal agreement similar to the one Danzig and Only had tried to reach in 2014, he said, “Absolutely, it has to be… The alternative is that they take this thing to trial. I’m sure it’s eating into their time and their money. I’m sure they figure it’ll probably be easier to do this, agree to whatever they agree to, and then they move on with their lives.” James blogged about the reunion discussion two months ago.

Some fans have wondered if the reunion shows will happen at all given Danzig’s volatile behavior and the band’s quagmire of past legal woes. Will current contractual agreements force Danzig and Only to keep the peace? “Who’s to say?” Greene says. “The way it’s set up, they’re playing a handful of dates at a festival. It’s not like they’re doing a ten-city tour on their own and they’re going to be stuck in a van together. They fly in, they fly out. They’re only going to have to be in each other’s sights for X amount of time, and it’s over.”

Whatever resolution Danzig and Only have reached, the news has overjoyed many Misfits fans who have never had the chance to see these original members perform together. Here’s hoping this year’s performances are the first of many.

Watch Danzig perform the Misfits’ classic ‘Last Caress’ with Doyle in 2013:

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