I was at my friends Charlie and Cecily’s house the other morning. I went to borrow a corset to wear at my show on Monday night and we were all totally child free, which rarely happens these days when we are together. Charlie and Cecily have been my friends for a little over 20 years. We reminisced about old times as I tried on the corset over my Mom clothes. We got to talking about Thorazine, my band and when Smith Kline Beecham sued us and in particularly me, the person known as Thorazine. Thorazine is the name of a old school anti psychotic medication, one of the first psychiatric drugs on the market and was also the name of my band which was named before I joined.
I remember the day we got the certified letter. It must have been 1994 or 1995. My now husband, who was then my young lover, and I were sitting on the front stoop of the house we rented on 46th Street in West Philly. We were waiting for our band mates to come home from work so we could rehearse. It was spring and a beautiful day. At first when we read the certified letter we were in shock. It seemed so official and we were so illegitimate. When the band members came home our drummer, who worked for a law firm at the time, took the letter to work and asked questions. Seems that the drug company had to prove that the doctors would be confused and send patients to our show and not to the pharmacy.
So, we decided to do what every good band should do when being bullied by a big company, we went to the media! What an insane wild ride. First the local weekly arts and entertainment papers wrote a piece about us getting sued which I did the interviews for during our first tour via pay phone (People this was before the age of affordable cell phones). Then the Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and KYW-1060 news radio picked the story up. The publicity was priceless. Then BOOM. The story hit the AP news wire and the phone was ringing off the hook. TV news stations from all over the East Coast started calling my house and arranging to come and film and interview us. Morning radio shows coast to coast would call us starting at 6am for interviews. I did more than 20 radio interviews naked from bed. Hey I was living with my tall young lover, and was healthy and in my 20′s, so it was totally acceptable. I would get the calls and tell them to call me back 15 minutes before I was to be on the air because I was at the time working at the bar and getting home at 3am from work. Eventually this now famous author interviewed us for a big story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Time, Newsweek, Playboy, and most newspapers all had small stories about the Goliath drug company trying to sue the small punk rock band. A famous trademark attorney heard about our legal troubles on the radio in New York and contacted us and offered to represent us pro bono. The publicity machine churned on and on. We gained a spot on Lolapalooza’s second stage. I got to hear Kurt Loder from MTV news talk about my band. As a kid who was brought up on MTV that was like a dream come true.
Finally, we met the Goliath face to face. We borrowed professional clothes to look legit and marched into the meeting with a lawyer and united as a band. After a lot of discussion they offered us $5,000 to change the name of our band. We called their bluff and told them we would not change the name for less than $25,000. The negotiations ended with them saying, “We will see you in court”.
Magically, they left us alone and never ever contacted us again. The publicity lasted long into the next year when many magazines and newspapers wrote about us again in their end of year issues. Eventually, the hoopla died down but for years after we’d be on tour and inevitably someone would ask, “aren’t you that band that got sued”. We’d reply, “yep that was us”.