According to court documents obtained by the band’s hometown newspaper, The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Burnley fired guitarist Aaron Fincke (known professionally as Aaron Fink) and bassist Mark Klepaski in May over a dispute about the group’s hit song “Blow Me Away.”
The singer’s June court filing accuses Fink and Klepaski of making a $100,000 deal with their record company regarding a remix of “Blow Me Away” to be included on Breaking Benjamin’s upcoming greatest hits album. The problem is that Burnley says the musicians or their representatives never told him, the band’s lawyer or management about the offer.
The two musicians explained their side of the story in a July court filing in which their attorneys said they “dispute and strictly deny” Burnley’s allegations. Fink and Klepaski are making the case that Burnley didn’t have the right to fire them because they believe a January 2009 partnership agreement is no longer valid.
The partnership agreement gave the singer permission to dismiss his bandmates for “cause,” according to The Citizens’ Voice. Attorneys for Fink and Klepaski say the agreement became invalid after Burnley informed the band in June 2010 that he was too ill to tour.
Burnley believes the partnership agreement is perfectly valid and entitles him with the “exclusive right” to tour and record under the Breaking Benjamin name.
Breaking Benjamin was formed in 2001 and has released four studio albums, including its most recent, 2009’s Dear Agony. The song at the center of the band’s dispute, “Blow Me Away,” was originally released on the soundtrack to the video game “Halo 2” in 2004. The greatest hits album in question, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin, is set for release Aug. 16.
In June 2010 Burnley posted an announcement on Breaking Benjamin’s website saying he was taking time off from touring to address some health issues. He also told fans that although he was playing two solo acoustic shows in July 2010, that didn’t mean he had left or was “ever going to leave Breaking Benjamin.”
According to The Citizens’ Voice, Burnley suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and neurological damage due to years of alcohol abuse.
The court papers lists Burnley as the band’s “sole founding member.” With Fink and Klepaski kicked out of the band, that only leaves Burnley and drummer Chad Szeliga on the roster.
Click here to read the story by The Citizens’ Voice.
Click here for Breaking Benjamin’s website.