Their songs have been heard on pop radio for the last two years around the clock. Among them: "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me You Have a Boyfriend Who Looks Like A Girlfriend." Now The Killers-a quartet of mid western Mormons who built their rep on sounding like they were descendents of Britian’s New Order— are being sued for $16 million by their ex manager.
Braden Merrick, the man who discovered and guided The Killers to fame and fortune—including selling six million copies of their CD, "Hot Fuss"-—filed suit late Tuesday in federal court in Las Vegas. Merrick is claiming that after seeing The Killers play in a Las Vegas club in front of just a few people, he polished them up and found them a record deal.
Now Merrick says The Killers—-Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci Jr, Dave Keuning, and Mark Stoermer, kicked him to the curb and breached their contract with him. All of them are named as defendants as well as an attorney named Robert Reynolds whom Merrick says interfered in his relationship with the group and encouraged them to sever ties with him.
The ‘manager who discovers an act and then gets fired’ is one of the oldest in show business. Woody Allen depicted it beautifully in his classic film, "Broadway Danny Rose."
Merrick says that in 2002 he found The Killers playing before 20 people in a ‘long since shuttered’ Las Vegas nightclub called The Junkyard. He says he got the idea they could be big, presented it to them, signed them to a deal, and then offered them to several record companies—-all of which rejected them.
One of the main companies for whom The Killers played a private showcase, Merrick says, was Warner Music Group. They passed on signing the group. Ironically, Merrick signed The Killers to Island/DefJam, whose former executives are now installed at Warner’s and could use a hit act like The Killers desperately.
Merrick says The Killers have grossed in excess of $25 million during their short career—-all due to him.
He won’t have too tough a time proving it, from the looks of things. Back in October 2004, Flowers—-the group’s leader—-told pollstar.org, an industry website—"Braden was a rep for Warner Bros. and he was just looking for bands. Las Vegas was in his territory, so he was checking out LVlocalmusicscene.com," Flowers said. "He wanted to sign us to Warner Bros. initially. He got us some showcases, and they didn't want us. He stayed with us and ended up being our manager until we got a record deal, and he's still here."