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Drummer Dave Lombardo Forced Off Slayer’s Australian Tour; Jon Dette To Fill In [Updated]
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Dave Lombardo Slayer

Drummer Dave Lombardo revealed on his official Facebook page on Thursday that he is being forced off Slayer’s upcoming Australian tour after he questioned the band’s financial situation. Sitting in for these dates is Jon Dette, who previously played with Slayer and is already in Australia with Anthrax for the Soundwave Festival filling in temporarily for Charlie Benante, who is currently unable to leave the United States.

Lombardo, who co-founded the thrash metal outfit in 1981 with guitarist Kerry King, had recently been trying to look into Slayer’s financial documents, which he felt left the four band members with very little income from the tour after deductions. He eventually proposed a new business model, which was met with resistance from King, who’s one of two guitarists in Slayer. According to Lombardo, King warned him that if he continued to argue for his new business model, he would “find another drummer.” After a recent rehearsal – one in which King did not show up – Lombardo received an email from the band’s lawyers stating that he was being replaced for the Australian tour, which is set to begin on February 23 at the 2013 Soundwave Festival in Brisbane and run through March 4.

Here below you can read Lombardo’s full statement, which goes into details about what he thought was going wrong with the band financially and what’s occurred since he began questioning the situation (including what amounted to be a gag order on him).

Slayer band photo

Blabbermouth discovered that when asked on Twitter whether Slayer would be pulling out of the Soundwave dates, the festival’s promoter AJ Maddah revealed that Dette would be playing those shows. “No. Dette is already here and knows Slayer songs well,” Maddah tweeted, referring to both Dette’s location in Australia right now with Anthrax, as well as his previous stint with Slayer from 1996–1997.

The 48-year-old Lombardo, who is considered one of the best drummers in metal, played on most of Slayer’s albums, from their 1983 debut Show No Mercy to their 1986 breakthrough album Reign In Blood, up until their last release, 2009’s World Painted Blood. There were some periods, most notably a decade during the 1990s, where he left the band, reportedly for financial reasons as well as issues with King, but he’s been back behind the kit since 2002.

It’s undeniable that Lombardo is a master and that his presence behind the drums is not only strong, but a massive drive for fans to see the band live. While Lombardo said he’s hopeful the issues can be resolved, this legal action seems like it will be difficult to get beyond, especially since the drummer was already displeased with his financial compensation and the way the band’s income was being handled. After the Australian jaunt, Slayer is scheduled so far to tour Europe in June and August, with a spot this September at the popular Rock In Rio show in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so we’ll have to wait and see if things get resolved to the point where Lombardo will be asked to return for these dates.

In the meantime, Lombardo’s absence will definitely be felt for concert-goers and will bring the current line-up down to only two original members: Kerry King and singer/bassist Tom Araya. Original guitarist Jeff Hanneman has been on medical leave from the band since early 2011 after he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a rare, quick-spreading flesh-eating disease. Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been filling in for Hanneman on the road, and played with Slayer for the 2011 Soundwave Festival, as well as the 2011 Big 4 concerts with fellow thrash heavies Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax.

Statement From Dave Lombardo Regarding Slayer Australian Tour 2013

I want to personally apologize to all of our fans in Australia who have bought tickets for the tour expecting to see me in my usual place on the drums.

So that you all know the truth, as of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I’m saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.

Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays realizing I had toured all over the world in 2012, but yet, had not been paid (except a small advance) or provided a proper accounting for a full year’s sweat and blood. On top of this, I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a long form contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order.

Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do best . . . play for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates.

I remain hopeful that we can resolve our issues. But once again, I sincerely apologize to all of our fans in Australia who spent their money expecting to see the 3 of us original Slayer members.
I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Sincerely,
Dave Lombardo

[Updated] As expected, Slayer has released a statement in response (via Noisecreep).

“Slayer confirms that Jon Dette (Testament) will drum for the band on its Australian tour that starts this Saturday, February 23 in Brisbane. As regards Dave Lombardo’s Facebook post, Slayer does not agree with Mr. Lombardo’s substance or the timeline of the events, except to acknowledge that Mr. Lombardo came to the band less than a week before their scheduled departure for Australia to present an entirely new set of terms for his engagement that were contrary to those that had been previously agreed upon. The band was unable to reach an agreement on these new demands in the short amount of time available prior to leaving for Australia. There is more to the account than what Mr. Lombardo has offered, but out of respect to him, Slayer will not be commenting further. Slayer is grateful to its Australian fans for their understanding of this unfortunate last-minute change, and very much looks forward to seeing them at these shows.”

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