Just a few days ahead of the 2020 GRAMMYs, drummer Joey Kramer has filed a lawsuit claiming he’s being blocked from performing with Aerosmith at the upcoming award show.
According to court documents, the musician – who filed last week – claimed he was unfairly asked to audition for the band following “minor injuries” last spring that made him “unable to perform several concerts.”
Aerosmith is set to be honored at the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute and perform at the GRAMMYs this Sunday, January 26.
Kramer claimed in his suit that he had recovered by Fall of 2019 and was “willing and able to return to Aerosmith” for their residency shows in November and December, but was asked by the band (Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford) to prove he was “able to play at an appropriate level.”
He added in the lawsuit that the stress stemming from the situation has led to a November hospitalization that caused his audition to be delayed.
Despite Kramer saying he did complete the audition earlier this January, he was told he “did not have enough ‘energy'” in the demo recording he sent and is now in a near “freeze-out” from the band.
Tyler, Perry, Whitford and Hamilton have responded to Kramer’s lawsuit in a statement saying, “Joey Kramer is our brother; his wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months. We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so.”
The statement continued, “Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week. We would be doing a disservice to him, to ourselves and to our fans to have him play without adequate time to prepare and rehearse. Compounding this, he chose to file a lawsuit on the Friday night of the holiday weekend preceding the Grammys with total disregard for what is our limited window to prepare to perform these important events. Given his decisions he is unfortunately unable to perform but of course we have invited him to be with us for both the Grammys and our MusiCares honor. We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage.”
A source close to the band confirmed to PEOPLE that Kramer had to “test” for Aerosmith’s performances this week, but revealed it was a result of the drummer failing to attend multiple planned rehearsals.
“They had been inviting him to come back for the last six months since he’s been away for whatever medical situation he’s been dealing with,” the source told the outlet. “He said ‘Yes, I’ll come and rehearse’ and kept not showing up. On the eve of the Grammys and MusiCares, he wanted to be back.”
According to the same source, Aerosmith members felt Kramer “wasn’t capable” of performing at a level they needed after they listened to his demo.
“They all got on the phone with him after they heard the demo and talked it through with him,” said the source. “They voted as a band, which they do with every decision, and it was four to one.”
Even though the band felt like Kramer wasn’t ready to perform at the 2020 GRAMMYs, they did want him by their side at the event, the source revealed.
“They said ‘Please come to MusiCares and Grammys. We’ll take photos and celebrate. You’re our brother,’” the source added. “They just don’t want to risk a performance because he hasn’t been with them in six months.”
Nevertheless, Kramer said in a statement that “being prohibited from playing with a band that I have given 50 years of my life to supporting, is beyond devastating.”
“The fact that I would be asked to audition for my own job, demonstrate that I can play at ‘an appropriate level’ … is both insulting and upsetting,” the drummer continued. “I did everything they asked — jumped through hopes … In Aerosmith’s 50-year history, no other band member has ever been subjected to this scrutiny let alone be asked to audition for his own job!”