Lawsuit indicates new Rolling Stones tour in works

Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:41pm EST
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By Eriq Gardner

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The Rolling Stones' next tour has not even been announced yet, but it is playing a key role in a legal battle between the man who has organized their treks for two decades and concert promoter Live Nation.

In November, Michael Cohl was sued for $5.35 million by Live Nation for allegedly breaching the terms of an agreement made at the time he left the company in 2008.

Now Cohl has struck back, saying that it was Live Nation that first breached the very same contract by attempting to "interfere" and "destroy" his opportunity to procure promotional rights to a Stones tour later this year.

The band, which last toured in 2007, has not revealed any plans to hit the road again. If it does tour, it would coincide with its 50th anniversary next year.

Cohl is famous in the entertainment business for his promotional endeavors. He is credited with inventing the modern rock tour, beginning with the Stones' "Steel Wheels" reunion tour in 1989, and has recently gained much attention for producing "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark," the most expensive Broadway musical ever.

When Cohl left Live Nation amid a feud with CEO Michael Rapino over the direction of the company, he signed an agreement that spelled out how exactly the parties would compete going forward. Cohl was to pay $9.85 million in installments to Live Nation in return for various assets, including a non-compete exemption to continue working with and promoting tours by the Stones, Pink Floyd and Barbra Streisand.

Live Nation sued Cohl for allegedly failing to pay $5.35 million in the 2008 agreement. But Cohl says that Live Nation never lived up to its side of the deal.

Last February, Live Nation sent Cohl a letter informing him that it was going to bid against Cohl for the Rolling Stones' next concert tour. The company followed up with an e-mail stating that Cohl could still pursue the band's tour, but only through a joint venture. Live Nation also wanted Cohl to detail his negotiations with the Rolling Stones, which Cohl says would give Live Nation key info that could be used to undercut his own bid.   Continued...