Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Rhubarb Over Stage Rights to Kinks Songs

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Warner/Chappell Music breached an agreement to grant licenses for two Kinks songs to musical play because former frontman Ray Davies wanted them for his own show, "Sunny Afternoon," a producer claims in court.

Modrock Productions claims in a Superior Court that in July 2011 it hired Steven Winogradsky and his music clearance company Winogradsky/Sobel to contact Warner/Chappell and clear 20 songs for a musical, "ModRock," set in London during the swinging '60s.

Winogradsky, Winogradsky/Sobel and Warner/Chappell Music are all named as defendants.

Winogradsky and Warner assured the producers that The Kinks' tunes "Sunny Afternoon" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" had been cleared for use, Modrock says in the complaint. Based on that promise, Modrock claims, it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars mounting the musical and recording a soundtrack album.

It claims that at no time during development did Warner mention that the production needed Davies' permission to perform the two songs.

"Imagine plaintiffs' shock and horror when, on May 24, 2013, a mere few days before opening of the musical - with the musical completely 'locked down,' after completion of rehearsals, and in the midst of final tech - Winogradsky and WIS [Winogradsky/Sobel] informed plaintiff that Warner was now claiming that the two Warner Davies songs, 'Sunny Afternoon' and 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion' were allegedly not cleared for use in the musical," the lawsuit states. "The purported reason which Winogradsky and W/S gave or Warner's repudiation of the Warner licenses to the Warner Davies songs was because permissions which were ostensibly required from Ray Davies had to be obtained before such clearances could be issued."

To clear any "legal cloud," Modrock says, it asked Davies if it could use the two songs that are "thematically and dramatically essential" to the musical's success. "Those efforts were unsuccessful."

Modrock says it went ahead with the production anyway. Warner cashed royalty checks for use of the songs, but warned the production not to use the songs again, according to the complaint.

"(T)he true reason why Warner reneged on, and is refusing to now honor, the Warner licenses for the Warner Davies songs is so that the Warner Davies songs can be used exclusively in Davies' new stage musical 'Sunny Afternoon,' expected to debut in 2014, which Davies believes is competitive with plaintiff's musical," the complaint states.

Slotted to open at London's Hampstead Theater this year, "Sunny Afternoon" will tell the story of Davies' early life and the rise of The Kinks, whose hits include "Waterloo Sunset," "Lola" and "You Really Got Me."

Modrock seeks damages, costs and punitive damages for breach of contract, breach of faith and fair dealing, and negligent misrepresentation.

The Wyoming-based company is represented by Michael Blaha of Santa Monica.

Neither Winogradsky nor Warner/Chappell Music immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.

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