Glam rockers The Rubettes being torn apart by bitter court fight over band name

·2-min read
Alan Williams of The Rubettes is accusing his bandmates of going behind his back and setting up a breakaway group credit:Bang Showbiz
Alan Williams of The Rubettes is accusing his bandmates of going behind his back and setting up a breakaway group credit:Bang Showbiz

Glam rockers The Rubettes are been torn apart by a bitter court feud over their iconic 1970s name.

Frontman Alan Williams, 74, is accusing his former band mates of going behind his back to launch breakaway band the Rubettes after they split in 2018.

He says he and his Alan Williams Entertainments Ltd firm has the right to use ‘The Rubettes’ and stop ex-group members from using it.

His barrister told London’s High Court guitarist Martin Clarke, who founded the band with Alan Williams and John Richardson, had been sacked in October 2018 after an alleged “dispute about fees”.

Clarke is accused of shortly after applying to register the UK trademark for ‘The Rubettes’ and started his own band with Richardson and Steve Etherington.

He was also said to have used the band’s distinct red and black logo to advertise the group.

The Rubettes shot to fame in 1974 with their hit ‘Sugar Baby Love’ selling 10 million copies worldwide

The court was told the key issue of the case was whether Williams and his company had the right to ‘The Rubettes’.

Williams’ lawyer said: “Alan Williams Entertainment was the relevant trading entity using the name or variations between about 1983 and when (the three band mates) commenced their wrongdoing.”

He added about the alleged “clandestine and secret plan” to split from Williams: “There wasn’t a whisper or a dickie bird, this was all going on behind his back.

“He has been told by one of the main promoters of 60s and 70s bands in the UK that he cannot promote his band because of the presence of Mr Clarke’s band in the UK.”

Giving evidence, Clarke said he and Richardson only started discussions about breaking away when their frontman told a TV show in Holland he was planning a move to Australia.

He had also grown increasingly frustrated with Williams’ alleged controlling style.

Michael Colbey, representing the breakaway trio, said: “Although Mr Williams' evidence on this isn’t entirely clear, he seems to accept that he was not responsible for the striking lead vocals, particularly in the introduction to the song (‘Sugar Baby Love’.)”

Etherington has now quit the breakaway group but is still a named defendant in the court dispute.

Judge Pat Treacy has reserved her decision in the case.

In 2002, Rubettes’ keyboard player Bill Hurd split away from the band and it was agreed in court there would be one band name called The Rubettes Featuring Alan Williams, and the other, named The Rubettes Featuring Bill Hurd.

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