Clinton and Stone, Robbed!
It is not an unusual tale, the broke artist with little to show of their career in the music business, however one would not expect to hear that of two of the world’s legendary funk gods Sly Stone and Star child George Clinton.
Both these legends have been in and out of court fighting to reclaim the rights of their numerous hit songs. Somehow they’ve been duped by unscrupulous managers and representatives, who were supposed to have been working in the artists best interests. The amount of revenue generated from George Clinton’s extensive catalog, including Parliament Funkadelic songs should have made Mr Clinton a fortune in the 100′s of millions. But the huge bulk on these monies have not lined his or the pockets of or the numerous writers and players of the P funk entourage.
Equally, the many hit songs of Living Legend Sly Stone, that should be allowing him to live comfortably in the twilight years of his career, have been signed away, in moments of weakness, drug addiction and mismanagement.
The music of Sly Stone and George Clinton has dominated the R&B and pop charts for four decades, hits like One Nation Under a Groove, Thank you for letting me be myself again, and Flash Light, are blueprints for what was to become the new Hip hop music, artists like De La Soul, Dr Dre, Ice Cube, and Digital Underground sampled artists like Clinton and became superstars. The publishing rights to the sampled music, have been proven in court to have been signed away for life leaving Clinton penniless.
Armand Baladian was boss of Westbound, the home of Funkadelic, Ohio Players, and Junie Morrison. He was a business associate of George Clinton. Baladian say’s Clinton took advances to cover his massive expenses and put up his publishing rights as collateral.
As the sampling era kicked in, Baladian made millions of dollars in publishing rights Parliament and Funkadelic songs sampled by hip hop artists, and claimed that Clinton signed the songs to his company permanently.
Clinton’s legal team, maintained that the songs signed to Baladin, were never meant to be on a permentent basis, and that Baladian had altered the legal documents, to make it seem like Clinton had signed the songs over forever. Clinton, however, could not prove this in court and on several occasions it has been ruled in court that he has no publishing rights to the material he has written.
Similarly Sly Stone of the hugely successful Sly and the Family Stone, filed a legal suite against manager, Jerry Goldstein, alleging that Goldstein had stolen $80 million in licensing and royalty income, and additionally that Goldstein had never provided him with any royalty accounting on albums between the years of 1989 to 2009.
It is common knowledge that in the past Mr Stone has been through serious drug addictions, and it is during these periods it is alleged that Stone signed paper work handing over the rights of catalog in order to feed his drug addiction etc.
Mismanagement, drug addiction, and carelessness on Clinton and Stone’s part has rendered them powerless in court, many attempts have failed to rectify this issue of misplaced intellectual property, and now much of the two stars funds have been squandered on legal fee.
Both artists now in their 70′s find themselves touring to make ends meet. It should not be the case that George Clinton has to perform 150 times a year – not because he wants to, but because he has to. Or that a Bitter Sly Slone must be on stage, unprepared and incoherent, and launching into bitter tirades to unsympathetic audiences who seek to get their money’s worth of entertainment.
Both these artists over the years have time and again opened their generous souls and poured out amazing music, that has inspired millions of people. But the mistakes they made along the way has left them fleeced, robbed of huge chunks of the massive revenue their music generates.
This is not an isolated case study, hitting many artists from superstar level to the most basic.