Quincy Jones Sues Michael Jackson’s Label

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Quincy Jones sued Michael Jackson’s record label and Sony for $10 million in royalties the legendary arranger-composer claims the companies owe him on contracts dating back to 1978.
     Jones and Quincy Jones Productions sued MJJ Productions and Sony Music Entertainment for breach of contract and an accounting, in Superior Court.
     Quincy Delight Jones Jr., 80, co-produced Michael Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller,” with Jackson. More than 66 million copies were sold, making it the best-selling record in history. Jones also co-produced Jackson’s 1987 album “Bad,” which sold 45 million copies.
     That was just the tail end of a career in which Jones played trumpet, wrote, arranged and conducted for Clifford Brown, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and dozens of others. He was nominated for a record 79 Grammy Awards, and won 27 of them.
     Jones, known as “Q,” wrote music for “The Wiz,” a 1978 movie adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” in which Jackson starred. On Nov. 1 that year, defendant MJJ, successor to The Jackson Five, signed an agreement asking Jones to produce Michael Jackson’s fifth album, “Off the Wall,” according to the 32-page lawsuit, which contains 28 pages of exhibits and attachments.
     “Sony has sold approximately 20 million copies of the OTW album,” Jones says in the complaint.
     Jones exercised his option to produce Jackson’s next album, which turned out to be “Thriller.”
     In the lawsuit, Jones’s attorney Henry Gradstein, with Gradstein & Marzano, says the success of “Thriller” and “Off the Wall” spurred Jackson and Jones to sign a second contract, on Dec. 1, 1985 -attached to the complaint – asking Jones and Quincy Jones Productions to produce Jackson’s seventh album, which turned out to be “Bad,” which sold 30 million copies, putting it in the top 20 albums of all time.
     But Jackson – whose personal and professional dissolution provided media fodder for years until the singer died on June 25, 2009, apparently of a drug overdose administered by his personal physician – also had a series of record contracts with Sony subsidiary Epic Records fka CBS Records.
     These contracts – from 1975, 1981, 1985, 1992 and 1994, and later modifications – required the defendants to provide Jones with regular accounting, and producer credit.
     “Unfortunately, after Jackson’s death, those in charge of Jackson’s entities, including MJJ, began commercially releasing new audio and audio-visual works without regard to the terms of either of the agreements,” Jones says in the lawsuit.
     Jones claims he was stiffed for a number of films and sound recordings, including the 2009 movie “This Is It” – “the highest grossing concert movie and documentary in the history of cinema,” according to the complaint.
     Sony released the soundtrack of that movie in October 2009.
     Also at issue are the October 2011 release of “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” a preview of the shows that were aborted due to Jackson’s death; the soundtrack to the “Immortal Production”; and the (nonparty) Cirque de Soleil’s “theatrical audio-visual production” called “Michael Jackson: One,” which opened at the (nonparty) Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas in May this year.
     According to Jones’s lawsuit: “MJJ, Jackson or an affiliate or related entity of MJJ and/or Jackson (individually and collectively, the ‘Jackson Party’) secretly entered into a venture agreement with Sony (or its entities or affiliates) (the ‘Sony-Jackson Venture Agreement’), pursuant to which Sony would distribute the Jackson Party’s record label (the ‘Jackson Label’), and Sony and the Jackson Label would share the profits from master recordings commercially released by such Jackson Label. Jones is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges, that the rights in and to the Masters reverted from Sony to MJJ, subsequent to which MJJ caused the albums featuring the performances of Jackson to be distributed by the Jackson Label, instead of Sony, including albums embodying one or more of the Masters. Jones is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges, that the Sony-Jackson Venture Agreement diverts revenues to MJJ in connection with the reproduction, use or other exploitation of the Masters, disguised such diverted revenues as ‘profits’ instead of ‘royalties’ (the ‘Disguised Royalties’). By removing such Disguised Royalties from the pool of revenues upon which Jones’ royalties are calculated, MJJ purposely reduces the royalties (and of ‘Net Receipts’) … payable to Jones under both of the agreements.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Jones seeks an accounting and at least $10 million, for breach of contracts.

%d bloggers like this: