A bass player — who claimed he collaborated on and recorded numerous songs with Linkin Park back in 1999 — has filed a lawsuit against the Grammy-winning group, seeking credit and unpaid royalties.
Kyle Christner said he never received “a penny” for his work, and asked a federal judge to step in and sort out ownership and authorship of more than 20 disputed songs, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Wednesday and obtained by Rolling Stone.
At the center of the lawsuit is a claim that one of the band’s managers contacted Christner last April to say the bass player was owed royalties for three demos and the six-song Hybrid Theory EP that was included in the rap-metal group’s 20th anniversary box set released in 2020, which commemorated their landmark 2000 studio album of the same name.
The box set included Linkin Park’s 1999 self-released EP featuring Christner and other rare and previously unreleased tracks, some listed as “forgotten demos.” One such 1999 demo titled “Could Have Been,” has been viewed nearly a million times on YouTube since its release three years ago, the lawsuit stated.
When Christner went back and reviewed all the archival material in the box set, he concluded his work appears on “more than twenty songs,” the complaint read. Christner said he reported his findings back to the management company, Machine Shop Entertainment, but the director who initially reached out “went dark” after acknowledging receipt of his letter.
The musician said he considered himself a member of the band back in 1999 and even played with Linkin Park at a showcase for Warner Records Inc. that ultimately led to a record deal.
According to the lawsuit, the band’s other members “abruptly” informed Christner he was cut from the band in October 1999. He never got an explanation for the decision, he claimed.
Still, Linkin Park co-founder Michael Shinoda complimented Christner during a Twitch stream after the 2020 release of “Could Have Been,” describing his bass solo on the track as “gnarly,” the lawsuit stated.
Christner alleged other songs in the box set that feature his work are “She Couldn’t,” “Chair,” “Blue” and “Step Up.”
“In fact, Christner appears to have played on at least tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of Forgotten Demos, tracks 1, 2, 7, 13, 14, 16, 17 of LPU Rarities, and track 7 of B-Side Rarities, as well as the Hybrid Theory EP,” the lawsuit claimed, referring to CD groupings in the box set.
The bassist further alleged he helped compose many of Linkin Park’s songs during the band’s early beginnings. He asked the court to determine who authored and owns the disputed songs and an accounting of all the profits generated by the works. Christner also requested payment for back royalties, interest, and attorney’s fees.
“It would be unjust for defendants to retain such benefit without paying plaintiff his fair share,” the lawsuit read.
Linkin Park members Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, and Joseph Hahn are listed as defendants alongside Machine Shop and Warner Records. A rep for the band and label did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.