Darren James Smith is out of the band, and has returned to his band from Canada, Harem Scarem, and Jake E. Lee's Red Dragon Cartel have announced that Michael Thomas Beck will be joining the band on their upcoming US/Canada tour.
Smith made this comment on his Facebook page: "IT IS TRUE I LEFT RDC, KINDA COMPLICATED BUT I THINK IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. ONE DAY I'LL COMMENT MORE, FOR NOW 'THATS ALL FOLKS!!!'"
The band followed up several hours later with this announcement: "Red Dragon Cartel and singer Darren James Smith have officially parted ways. All scheduled shows will still take place as planned with Michael Thomas Beck (owner, engineer, and producer at SoundVision Recording Studio in Mesa, Arizona. He has worked with such acts as Soilwork, Marilyn Manson, The Black Dahlia Murder and Daath) on vocals. We would like to welcome Michael to RDC and we look forward to getting back on stage!"
This comes as no great shock, as many of Jake E. Lee's biggest fans have never warmed up to the brash lead vocalist since he famously blew the band's first show in Hollywood at The Whisky A Go Go back in December of 2013. I had seen the band just days later in San Diego, and Smith put on a fine show, but first impressions are tough to overcome, and the band has not been seen as steady since, with a slate of cancellations and mixed reviews. However, through it all, Jake E. Lee has been regularly astounding, and his return to the scene is still a great thing for fans of rock guitar.
There were rumors to the effect that Lynch Mob's Oni Logan would be taking over, but they turned out to be just that. I spoke with Oni yesterday, however, and he expressed a definite interest in working with Jake E. Lee at some point, having previously been offered the opportunity to fill in for Smith for a host of shows in the LA are in January, but on too short a notice to make it work.
I then reached out to someone who was very closely involved with the band in its earliest stages unbeknownst that they were no longer involved with Red Dragon Cartel, and they made this rather scathing comment:
"I am not involved anymore with them, too complicated, but their singer is the same from the day one it didn't change. That's a dysfunctional band anyway, Jake is useless, and Ron Mancuso messed up with the band and he was fired. I met Oni at the band's first gig when the band's singer (Smith) was drunk and wasted and sucked, but he (Logan) is a great singer. Cheers!"
Red Dragon Cartel commence their US/Canadian tour on April 16, 2015 in Miami, Florida. I've a sense that this story is far from over, so stay tuned....