Quincy Jones Sues Michael Jackson Estate

Producer claims breach of contract, seeks millions in damages and unpaid royalties

October 26, 2013 10:08 AM ET
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Children Mending Hearts

Quincy Jones filed a lawsuit against Michael Jackson's estate on Friday, seeking millions of dollars in royalties over projects that were released after the singer's death. The legendary producer is claiming that the way Jackson's work was used in the This Is It film and soundtrack album, as well as the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil productions and the 25th anniversary edition of Bad, involve a breach of contract. Jones also included Sony Music Entertainment, the parent company of Jackson's label, Epic Records, in the suit.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the producer claims that master recordings of songs he worked on were remixed and edited in order to deprive him of profits that he would have been entitled to under agreements he signed with Jackson in the 1970s and 1980s. He says that under the contracts, he should have been given the first opportunity to re-edit or re-mix any of the master recordings and that he was entitled to producer credit for the master recordings, as well as additional compensation if the masters were remixed.

 See Where Michael Jackson Ranks on Our List of the 100 Greatest Artists

Jones produced three huge solo albums for Jackson: 1979's Off the Wall, 1982's Thriller and 1987's Bad. Following the singer's 2009 death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, Columbia Pictures released the film This Is It, which documented Jackson's preparations for his concert tour. The film and soundtrack featured songs including "Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Thriller," "Beat It" and "Billy Jean." Cirque du Soleil then used a similar array of classic Jackson hits in its 2011 production Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour and this year's Michael Jackson: One.

Jones is seeking at least $10 million in damages for breach of contract, as well as unpaid royalties, remixing fees and compensation for the loss of credit. "Quincy has been frustrated with these matters for a number of years, felt he was not making any progress and needed to take more formal action," Henry Gradstein, Jones' attorney, told THR.

Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the Jackson estate, issued a statement in response. "The estate of Michael Jackson was saddened to learn that Quincy Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking money from Michael's estate," the statement said. "To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael."

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