Cameo lead singer Larry Blackmon says four of his former bandmates are illegally profiting off of his hard work and is demanding they pay up $2 million for the damage they have caused.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Blackmon is suing four of his former bandmates: Nathan Leftenant, Arnett Leftenant, Jeryl Bright and Gregory Johnson.
Blackmon explains he founded Cameo and chose the name by himself. The singer says Nathan and Arnett both auditioned and were brought in as musicians for hire. Blackmon says during the 1970s and '80s, Cameo had a roster that fluctuated between 10 to 14 artists.
He says all Cameo artists were employed as a musician for hire. Blackmon says in 1982, the band underwent significant change and he trimmed the roster. At the time, Johnson left the band to do other things. He adds that Nathan and Arnett both ceased performing with the band in 2004 and Bright performed with Cameo on and off until 2015.
Blackmon argues the band's success was due to him controlling the musical direction and stage persona, which he says he has invested substantial amounts of money and time to over the years.
The last album Cameo recorded was in 2000 but Blackmon says he has maintained a worldwide performing schedule in the years since performing under the Cameo name.
Blackmon says he has learned of his former bandmates performing under Cameo, or The Original Cameo Family, and has had to contact venues in the past. The singer says for the past few years, the defendants have booked various shows using the Cameo name and have even used his photo in the advertisements.
Blackmon says they never got permission to use the trademark, nor was he paid a dime from the profits they made.
He is demanding in excess of $2 million in damages plus an injunction prohibiting the former members from using Cameo name or his likeness.
As The Blast first reported, Blackmon was sued last year by Leftenant, Leftenant, Bright and Johnson, accusing him of screwing them out of royalties.
The four former members claimed that in 2010, Blackmon began collecting royalties on behalf of the band, saying he would pay the other members their share. They claimed Blackmon took in $103,005.30 and never paid them a dime.
They said they’ve tried on multiple occasions to get the money they believe they are owed but Blackmon has not paid up.
In addition, the plaintiffs claimed Blackmon began a Las Vegas residency in 2015 performing Cameo’s music without their permission.
They sued to get the money they are owed, plus they are seeking $1,000,000 in punitive damages. They are also seeking 80% of the profits from live performances and other appearances using the Cameo trademark.
Cameo was big in the 1980s and achieved brief fame with the classic funk song, “Word Up!” It was the band’s first Top 40 hit and spent three weeks at number 1 on the US R&B chart.