Coldplay's ex-manager Dave Holmes blast's band's 'made up' lawsuit
10th October 2023

Now Coldplay lawsuit turns bitter as ex-manager Dave Holmes accuses Chris Martin’s band of ‘making up’ tales of mishaps and ‘ethical lapses’ from their world tour as both sides sue each other for millions

Coldplay’s former manager Dave Holmes today blasted the band’s decision to sue him for £14million – telling MailOnline their claims are ‘made up’.

Mr Holmes believes the British group led by Chris Martin ‘knows they’re in trouble’ and must pay the £10million he claims ‘they owe him’ to avoid the High Court. 

The British four-piece have started litigation proceedings in London against Mr Holmes, who did the same to them in August after two decades working together.

He worked for the band for more than 22 years until he was sacked in 2022. He claims he was ‘betrayed’ by the group and is owed £10million in unpaid wages.

Now Chris Martin’s Coldplay have launched a legal fightback, accusing Holmes of bungling the planning and terms of the mega-money Music of the Spheres world tour.

Hitting back at the writ, a spokesman for Mr Holmes told MailOnline today: ‘Coldplay knows they’re in trouble with their defence. Accusing Dave Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand: Coldplay had a contract with Dave, they are refusing to honour it and they need to pay Dave what they owe him’.

Chris Martin of British band Coldplay performs at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, in July. The band is in a bitter legal battle with their former manager

Coldplay say its Music Of The Spheres World Tour (pictured in Manchester) suffered because of errors by Dave Holmes (right), who was later fired. Mr Holmes has said: ‘Coldplay knows they’re in trouble with their defence’

The British group are counter claiming £14million in damages because he is guilty of ‘failing adequately to supervise and control the tour budget at all times’, according to High Court documents seen by The Times.

They also claim that $30million of loans he secured from concert company Live Nation may have tipped negotiations in favour of the promoter, leading to millions in lost earnings.

Coldplay believes that its tour suffered spiralling costs due to Mr Holmes. 

The band’s lawyers allege that ‘had Mr Holmes exercised reasonable care and skill in the performance of his obligations’, the band would never have had to have incurred costs of at least £17.5 million. 

Examples given include ’16 bespoke stage pylons’ for lighting and video costing €10.6 million that became too expensive to use.

The documents also accuse Holmes of authorising the purchase of a $9.7 million ‘visual project known as Jet Screen’ that was too big, and only used for ten gigs in Buenos Aires on the 165-gig world tour.

People familiar with the row on Holmes’ side claim that any suggestion that Dave was responsible are ‘totally false and misleading’. 

Coldplay also say Holmes used ‘his position’ to secure $30million in loans at preferable rates from concert behemoth Live Nation.

‘To the best of [our] knowledge.. Mr Holmes used monies obtained by the loan agreements to fund a property development venture in or around Vancouver, Canada,’ say the band in their filing.

‘It is to be inferred that Mr Holmes was only able to acquire loans totalling $30 million at a fixed annual interest rate of 2.72 per cent from Live Nation by virtue of his position as Coldplay’s manager’, the claim states.

Live Nation said in a statement to The Times that it ‘has a strong and longstanding relationship with Coldplay’, adding: ‘Any past dealings with their management team were considered an extension of this relationship.’ 

Coldplay believes that this arrangement may have led to poor decisions about their Music of the Spheres tour, which Holmes negotiated with Live Nation.

‘That would potentially or actually conflict with his obligations to secure best possible terms for [Coldplay],’ the claim says.

Holmes had a ‘personal interest in maintaining the best possible relations with Live Nation in order to ensure he would have leverage in the event that he required any form of indulgence by reference to the loan terms’, Coldplay claims.

A source close to Mr Holmes said: ‘Whatever this legal filing may imply, the interest rates on the loan obtained from Live Nation by Dave were entirely consistent with those available everywhere in the United States at the time’.

Dave Holmes managed the band for more than 22 years before the group dismissed him in 2022, despite having agreed to extend his contract to aid with their tenth and eleventh albums, according to the legal filing. He also began preparations for their 2024-25 tours.

But Mr Holmes alleges that the band – frontman Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion – claimed to have never agreed to the extended contract and are refusing to pay him for the work he contributed to the album and tour preparations.

The longtime manager, who is said to feel ‘betrayed’ by the band, filed a suit against Coldplay in the High Court in the UK in August.

He also wants the band to pay the commissions he was entitled to, as outlined in the contract, and cover the ‘loss and damage equal to the profits’ he would have made, as well as everything he is entitled to from prior contracts.

Mr Holmes is also demanding that Coldplay, which has become one of the highest-selling musical acts of all time, affirm the contract for the 10th and 11th albums had been agreed to.

Coldplay’s representatives said Mr Holmes’ management contract expired at the end of 2022 ‘at which point they decided not to start a new one’.

‘The matter is now in the hands of Coldplay’s lawyers and the claims are being vigorously disputed,’ the spokesperson added.

The former manager of Coldplay has filed an excess of £10million lawsuit against the band for breach of contract after the group allegedly refused to pay him for his work, MailOnline can reveal. Pictured: Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, Will Champion and Guy Berryman of Coldplay perform onstage during the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2016

Mr Holmes alleges Coldplay agreed to extend his contract to aid with their tenth and eleventh albums, according to the legal filing. He also began preparations for their 2024-25 tours. Pictured: Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin and Guy Berryman performing at the O2 in London in October 2021

Mr Holmes has worked with Coldplay for more than two decades, managing their recordings and live performances dating back to 2005’s X&Y, their third studio album.

During his time with the band, he aided with the recording and release of seven ‘successful’ albums and six tours, including their Music of the Spheres worldwide tour – which was one of the highest grossing tours of all time.

Following his dismissal, Coldplay’s first manager, Phil Harvey, as well as Mandi Frost and Arlene Moon, who worked alongside Mr Holmes for many years, have now taken control.

Phil Sherrell, attorney for Mr Holmes, told MailOnline in August: ‘Dave Holmes successfully managed Coldplay for more than 22 years, steering them to be one of the most successful bands in music history.

‘Now, as the legal case shows, Coldplay is refusing to honour Dave’s management contract and pay him what he is owed.’

Mr Holmes and the band worked on album-to-album and tour-to-tour contracts with each agreement set to run through the album cycle or until a specific date, the suit states. By 2014, Mr Holmes and the group began working on a two-album basis.

His most recent contract, which covered their eighth studio album Everyday Life and ninth album, Music of the Spheres, was extended to the end of 2022. According to the lawsuit, Coldplay later extended the agreement to the end of 2025, covering a future 10th and 11th album.

According to his contract, Mr Holmes was entitled to a percentage commission on the net profits of the band’s albums and live performances, as well as any other activities related to their album cycles. This rose from 8 per cent for X&Y to 13 per cent for Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto. It went down to 10 per cent for the band’s past four records.

Mr Holmes and the band worked on album-to-album and tour-to-tour contracts with each agreement set to run through the album cycle or until a specific date. Pictured: Dave Holmes, Ken Ehrlich, Dana Tomarken, Will Champion, Jonny Buckland, Neil Portnow, Guy Berryman, Chris Martin, Kristen Madsen and Scott Goldman in 2011

The longtime manager, who sources close to the case say feels ‘betrayed’ by the band, has filed a suit against Coldplay in a UK High Court. Pictured: Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Will Champion of Coldplay attend the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival

He also wants the band to pay the commissions he was entitled to, as outlined in the contract, and cover the ‘loss and damage equal to the profits’ he would have made, as well as everything he is entitled to from prior contracts. Pictured: Coldplay frontman Chris Martin performing at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark last month

In about March 2014, Mr Harvey – Coldplay’s creative director and the so-called ‘fifth member’ of the band – made a deal with Mr Holmes giving him 50 per cent of his own commission for the work Mr Harvey did on the band’s first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head.

The suit claims the band abided by that agreement until September 2021 when Mr Martin asked to reduce both Mr Holmes and Mr Harvey’s commissions for any private concert in a bid to get more favourable rates for booking agents.

Mr Holmes, according to the suit, agreed to terms, amending the contract Coldplay had signed with him to make Everyday Life and Music of the Spheres.

However, Music of the Spheres was not due to be released until after his contract for the eighth and ninth records was due to expire, so in early 2021 the band extended his contract through the end of the year.

Also that year, Mr Holmes negotiated a £35million advance with the band’s record label for their tenth album, as well as £15million each for albums 11 and 12. Mr Holmes’ company was paid his share of the advance in July 2021.

In November 2021, the band’s solicitor is said to have emailed Mr Holmes his contract for the 10th and 11th albums, allegeding it was already in effect because he had received his advance in July. The filing claims the contract was dated April 1, 2021 and scheduled to end December 31, 2025.

Mr Holmes alleges that he then began work on a planned follow-up to Music of the Sphere, including getting sponsorship deals and starting preparation for the band’s tour, with dates scheduled through December 2023. According to the suit, all of this was discussed between Coldplay and Mr Holmes.

He claims he arranged recording sessions, release planning, marketing and put together a contract for Coldplay to sample another musician. The suit also says he arranged a recording session for the band in the Boston area.

Mr Holmes also started working on tours for 2024-25, met with promoters, put together potential agreements with venues, all of which he claims he discussed with the band.

The manager alleged that shortly afterwards, Coldplay began to claim that the contract had not been agreed to yet and that his previous contract had ended. The filing alleges that the band was refusing to pay any money agreed to until they changed certain details of the contact.

In June last year, Coldplay’s solicitor told Mr Holmes the band wanted to change his role to ‘Head of Touring’ and remove him from the commissions the band made from albums going forward. He would instead only get commission from tours and concerts.

Mr Holmes alleges he was given two drafts of the Head of Touring contract in August 2022, but in September last year the band contacted Mr Holmes’ lawyer stating that his Everyday Life and Music of the Spheres contract was ending.

The band also told Mr Holmes through their solicitors that he was being dismissed and the new contract proposal had been withdrawn. The lawyer also claimed that the band did not want to pay him commission for anything once this contract ended, the suit alleges.

According to the legal filing, Coldplay have made an intention ‘not to comply’ with their obligations to Mr Holmes.

The former manager, who according to the suit helped in ‘guiding the band to achieve worldwide success’, is now seeking payment for the services due under the agreement, damages, and reasonable remuneration, as well as costs.

The filing comes following the news that Coldplay are reportedly in advanced talks to headline Glastonbury 2024.

The band – who previously headlined the event in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016 – are understood to have left room in their 2024 schedules in order to perform at the iconic festival for a fifth time, it was reported earlier this month.

Mr Martin recently announced new European dates for their Music of the Spheres world tour and there is a break in concerts from June 26 to June 30, which just happens to be when Glastonbury takes place.

Coldplay announced a set of 16 new dates for their 2024 European tour, with the final two nights in Dublin.

The new dates were announced after they wrapped up the UK leg of their massive world tour, which included six-nights at Wembley Stadium in London.

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