You know you’ve reached The Fame when someone slaps you with a massive lawsuit. Lady Gaga is being sued for $30 million by producer and ex-boyfriend Rob Fusari, the co-writer of Gaga’s hit “Paparazzi,” who claims he discovered the singer in 2006 and created the moniker “Lady Gaga.” In the suit, Fusari seeks a 20 percent cut from Gaga’s two companies Team Love Child and Mermaid Music, saying he entered into a contract with Gaga in 2006 that also promised him a portion of her merchandising and revenue, the New York Daily News reports. Fusari, who previously had hits with Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” and Destiny Child’s “Bootylicious,” also claims that he was shortchanged on his royalty fees. UPDATE: Lady Gaga is counter-suing Fusari, the Daily News reports, arguing he tricked her into signing an illegal contract.
“It’s an age-old story in the music business,” said Fusari’s lawyer Robert Meloni. “You become famous and you turn on the person who discovered you.” According to the suit, Fusari initially recruited Gaga, then just Stefani Germanotta, to join what he envisioned as “an all-girl version of the Strokes.” “Fusari was expecting someone a little more grunge-rocker than the young Italian girl ‘guidette’ that arrived at his doorstep and was worried that he had made a mistake,” the suit contends. Recognizing Gaga’s ability, Fusari claims he helped craft Gaga’s songwriting to something with more of a dance feel. Their collaboration resulted in three songs that eventually appeared on The Fame — “Paparazzi,” “Brown Eyes” and “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” — plus the bonus tracks “Disco Heaven,” “Again Again” and “Retro Dance Freak.”
Fusari also claims he accidentally created the “Lady Gaga” name, explaining in the suit “one day when Fusari addressed a cell phone text to Germanotta under the moniker ‘Radio Gaga’ [a song by Queen], his cell phone’s spell check converted ‘Radio’ to ‘Lady.’ Germanotta loved it and ‘Lady Gaga’ was born.” Rolling Stone told the tale a little differently in our June 2009 Lady Gaga cover story, where Brian Hiatt reported that Fusari was struck by some Freddie Mercury-like harmonies the singer recorded and began singing “Radio Gaga” to her as a running joke; Gaga texted Fusari her new name and never answered to “Stef” again.
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Besides being collaborators, Fusari and Gaga also shared a romantic relationship, though Fusari’s suit claims that ended in January 2007, adding that Gaga was a “woman scorned” and eventually became “verbally abusive” to Fusari. “All business is personal,” the suit says. “When those personal relationships evolve into romantic entanglements, any corresponding business relationship usually follows the same trajectory so that when one crashes they all burn. This is what happened here.” When reached by Rolling Stone for a response, Lady Gaga’s rep said the singer has no comment on the suit.
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