Brian Jonestown Guitarist Seeks Royalties
LOS ANGELES (CN) - An attorney for rock band Brian Jonestown Massacre defrauded the band's former guitarist of his share of royalties from a song used in the opening credits of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," the guitarist claims in court.
Jeffrey Davies sued Barry Simons in Superior Court, claiming that the lawyer conspired with Brian Jonestown frontman Anton Newcombe to deprive him of his share of royalties in the song "Straight Up and Down."
Last year, Newcombe, not a party to the lawsuit, asked a court to issue an injunction against Davies and declare that the guitarist does not hold an interest in Brian Jonestown's songs. Davies filed a counterclaim last month.
Now in an identical Superior Court complaint, Davies claims he co-wrote six songs with Newcombe before he fell out with the singer and left the band in 2002. The band's travails are portrayed in "Dig," a documentary about Brian Jonestown's rivalry with The Dandy Warhols.
During the late '90's, while he was still in Brian Jonestown, Davies says, he voiced his concerns to Newcombe about his rights in the songs the pair had written. The singer referred Davies to Simons, who allegedly agreed to file copyrights on Davies behalf and pay him royalties, the 14-page lawsuit states.
"Defendant Simons never explained to plaintiff that there were two different copyright registrations that needed to be filed with respect to song compositions and song recordings. Rather, plaintiff was just assured by Mr. Simons that all of the proper copyrights would be filed and that plaintiff would be disbursed royalties as they were earned," the complaint states.
"Straight Up and Down" was featured in an episode of police drama "Nash Bridges" in the late 1990s, and Davies says he received a royalty check of $1,000 for use of the song.
Davies claims he contacted Simons from time to time to ask if he was owed any royalties. The attorney always told him that no royalties had been earned, according to the lawsuit.
The guitarist says he decided to take legal action after he discovered that HBO had licensed "Straight Up and Down" for the opening credits of "Broadwalk Empire." Under the license, HBO pays tens of thousands of dollars in license fees each year, according to the complaint.
Davies claims Newcombe and Simon conspired to "create a false story" that Davies had agreed to give up his rights in the song. Apparently, Simons made that assertion in a declaration in a lawsuit filed by Brian Jonestown Massacre against Davies in Federal Court last year.
"Plaintiff is informed and believes that defendant Simons and Newcombe have a history of making false representations to artists to induce them to write compositions and perform on sound recordings in the group Brian Jonestown Massacre," the lawsuit states.
Davies seeks an accounting, disgorgement and damages for conversion, fraud and deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, and professional negligence.
He is represented by Joshua Glotzer with Glotzer & Sweat of Beverly Hills.