Little River Band, no more

Reporter: Rahni Sadler | Producer: Erin Reimer
The Little River Band touring the US has infuriated fans in Australia

Australia's Little River Band was once one of the biggest groups in the world with hits including Reminiscing, Cool Change and Help Is On Its Way.

But 40 years on, a bitter feud has erupted between the current owners of the band and the founding members, who no longer have any right to its name.

It was a band so Australian it was named after a town in Victoria and even had John Farnham on vocals but these days the Little River Band tours the US with a completely different American lineup.

The band was started by Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock, and Graeham Goble — Birtles left in 1983, Shorrock in 1996 and Goble in 1992.

Guitarist Stephen Housden joined the band in August 1981 and currently owns the rights to the band's name.

It was when Birtles tried to do a revival tour of the original group that they discovered it would have to be under a different name.

"We sent a letter to Steven Housden informing him that we were going to call ourselves The Original Little River Band and go out on the road to tour, you know, and for us it wouldn’t have been an ongoing thing, we just wanted to come back," Birtles said.

"We immediately received what I now call a CND, a cease and desist letter saying that we have no right to the name nor the trademark."

It sparked a court battle, but Stephen Housden had the documents that mattered — showing the original members left the band and, as his argument went, left behind any right to it.



"I am not sure why anyone who left the company and left the band thinks they have any right to the name," Housden said.

"I wouldn’t be coming back 30 years later and saying “that is my band” I just don’t get that, it’s not the way I operate anyway."

After each member left, the unknowingly gave up the rights to the band's name according to documents they claim they didn’t know existed.

"I walked away from the band with my appliers, my pedal board, that’s it. It didn’t even dawn on me to ask for money," Shorrock said.

"There are a lot of Little River Band fans around the world who would love to see the original line up one more time," Birtles said.

It hit hard knowing that they no longer had any right to the name they became famous for.

It hit even harder when the current members were booked on one of America’s biggest chat shows, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary.

Current vocalist Wayne Nelson, from Kansas City Missourri, says he has every right to celebrate.

"There has never been any attempt to defraud the people that were in the band between 1975 and 1990, not once. That’s not true, there has never been an attempt to diminish their contribution," Nelson said.

"They can talk about their history all they want to, and they do, what they can’t do, is say they are or pretend to be or diminish the fact that we are Little River Band."

Housden left the touring band in 2006 and now lives in Ireland, although he participates in the band's recordings and management.

The founding members eventually did do a revival tour under the name Birtles Shorrock Goble and have written new music together under that name.

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