This is the final part of this series about classic rock musicians who got ripped off by managers, record labels, and the industry in general. The stories are diverse with the biggest artists and one hit wonder/flash in the pan artists being hurt by the music industry. You can read parts 1, 2, and 3 here. Let’s get started!
1. Frankie Lymon – No songwriting royalties for biggest hit
Frankie Lymon got famous at 13 with “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, a song he and his bandmates, Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant wrote. He was a pioneer in many ways with his group being the first all teenage boy band, the group being integrated with black and Puerto Rican members, and with the band’s biggest hit being an early rock song. The sad thing about being a flash in the pan musician is that the fame and money don’t last, if you even get money that is.
“Why Do Fools Fall In Love” was released in 1956 and after that, the group got other hits like “I Want You To Be My Girl”, “I Promise to Remember”, “Who Can Explain?”, and “Goody Goody” (none of these were written by the group). The following year, record producer George Goldner pushed Frankie Lymon as a solo act starting at a concert in London. Later in 1957, he left the group to pursue a solo career signed by Roulette Records, but it didn’t have the success of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”. When he danced with a white girl on Alan Freed’s The Big Beat, the show was cancelled after angry calls from racist audience.
He also developed a heroin addiction when he met a woman twice his age. His contract with Roulette ended in 1961 and he checked into rehab. Heroin is an expensive drug and if you don’t have rock star money, it’s easy to go broke because of a drug addiction. He sold his publishing rights for only $1500. He was entitled to royalties, but his wife didn’t get them.
He knew that he was gambling with his life and tried to quit multiple times, but he ended up relapsing. Addiction is no joke. In 1966, he was arrested on a heroin charge and instead of jail, served in the army. While in the army, he met his third wife, schoolteacher Emira Eagle, and went AWOL to perform at small clubs in the south. The day before he was going to start recording for his comeback, he overdosed on heroin at his grandmother’s house. He was 25.
He said in a 1967 interview with Ebony that he never got to have a childhood because he spent it all performing and his family were poor so he had to work starting at the age of 11. There was no time to play stickball and marbles with the other kids.
He also was in a bunch of relationships with different women, three of whom claimed to be his widow: Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters, and Emira Eagle. When Diana Ross released a cover of Frankie Lymon’s biggest hit in 1981, they all took Morris Levy to court because they wanted a piece of the pie.
Songwriting credits for “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” weren’t always given to all three band members, and the notorious Morris Levy even credited himself as a songwriter at one point, reaping the benefits while Frankie Lymon didn’t get any benefits and after he died, no one in his family benefitted. Finally in 1992, after a long court battle, Jimmy Merchant and Herman Santiago got their songwriting credits back, but they didn’t have the rights to the song, only Lymon’s family and Levy had them.
Despite having that flash in the pan fame, they still had a lot of influence on the Motown vocal group sound
2. New Order – Manager told them to invest money in the Haçienda
After Ian Curtis took his life just before they were to go on their first American tour, Joy Division could no longer continue as that name because they made an agreement that if anyone leaves they cannot use that name anymore, so they became New Order and got even more success with their synth-pop dance-rock sound. The idea for band’s new name came from manager Rob Gretton, who saw a headline that read “The People’s New Order of Kampuchea”. Interestingly enough, a former member of The Stooges, Ron Asheton, founded a short lived punk band called The New Order, but they never even released an album.
Rob Gretton was very important in the Manchester music scene as a partner and co-director of Factory Records and founding partner of The Haçienda nightclub. Generally speaking, he was a good manager because he had a clear vision and an ear for talent. He’s considered an honourary member of Joy Division/New Order, despite not playing an instrument.
Now here’s the problem. Remember The Haçienda? Rob Gretton encouraged New Order to invest money in that famous Manchester nightclub. It was a bit strange: had windows, but no cloakroom and a shortage of washrooms. They hardly made any money off alcohol sales because most of the patrons were using drugs instead.
At first, it was haemorrhaging money, but after some years it took off and was very influential and important: the first UK venue Madonna performed at and one of the first British clubs to play house music. In 1987, the club was full every night of the week.
The good times didn’t last long for the club. The Madchester alternative rock/acid house scene involved a lot of drug taking and that was going on inside the Haçienda. On 14 July 1989, the country’s first ecstasy related death occurred at the nightclub. Following that, the police clamped down. The club had to temporarily close in early 1991. Afterwards, security increased, but there were violent incidents in and around the club. In 1997, the government took away its entertainments licence.
New Order lost millions as owners of the nightclub. The club closed down in 1997 and the building was demolished in 2002. Bassist Peter Hook wrote a book about it called How Not to Run a Club.
3. The Monkees – Didn’t have control over their image or sound
The Monkees were an early example of a boy band, long before your NSYNCs, Backstreet Boys, and One Direction. They were casted, each fit a mould, and their songs were typically written for them. The casting ad read:
“Madness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running Parts for 4 insane boys, age 17-21. Want spirited Ben Frank’s types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview.”
In total, 437 actors/musicians tried out for The Monkees.
The idea for The Monkees came about as an answer to The Beatles’ A Hard Days’ Night. Just a TV show about four young Beatle like guys with a side of music. They casted a bunch of actors/musicians: Davy Jones (formerly the Artful Dodger in Oliver!), Mike Nesmith (musician who studied theatre in university), Micky Dolenz (child actor), and Peter Tork (folk musician friend of Stephen Stills, who was rejected).
They weren’t intended to be a serious rock band, but eventually the Monkees wanted to write their own songs and take control over their own image and have more input. At first, all they did were the vocals and studio musicians played the instruments, even though the band members had some knowledge of how to play guitar, bass, and drums, but not strong enough yet to handle their own recording sessions.
The music breaks in the show were music videos before they were popularised and way before MTV. During filming breaks, they liked to practise their instruments and they got better at it and they felt more confident in their musical abilities and wanted to have control.
The record label, against producer Don Kirshner’s wishes, wanted to send The Monkees on tour because the show had such good reception and fans wanted to see them live, could make even more money.
By 1967, they got that control and Headquarters had some original compositions and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones Ltd had the band playing their own instruments.
The Monkees only lasted two seasons and was not renewed for a third season because of disagreements over what direction the show would go in. The Monkees didn’t want to keep doing the same old scripted sitcom stuff. Instead, they wanted to do a variety show and have rock bands appear as guests. NBC weren’t interested. The Monkees’ next move was the 1968 film, Head, which was way different from the TV show – psychedelic and more grown up. The problem is their original target demographic felt alienated and the older demographic they wanted to appeal to didn’t want to listen to music their younger siblings listened to. Like The Beatles, everyone wanted to go in their own direction and do their own thing.
4. Teena Marie – Wanted to get away from Motown
Teena Marie was introduced to Motown producer Hal Davis in 1976. They planned to have her star in a film, but that project was shelved. She was signed as a solo act because Berry Gordy was so impressed with her vocals. For a while she recorded unreleased material until Rick James spotted her and said he wanted to work with her.
Between 1979 and 1981 she got some success, but in 1982, she got into a legal battle with Motown over her contract and unreleased music. She wanted to leave, but Motown sued her. She was still under contract, but no music was being released, leaving her trapped. She couldn’t simply sign to another label. She countersued and won. The Brockert Initiative was a result of that lawsuit, changing things for musicians. Because of that initiative, it’s illegal for record companies to keep artists under contract without releasing new material for them or paying them a salary.
5. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Missed out on royalty payments
Motown screwed over a lot of musicians, one of the most common scams was not paying royalties. In the 80s, members Martha Reeves, Annette Beard, and Rosalind Ashford-Holmes sued for royalties from their various Motown hits like “Heatwave”, “Quicksand”, “Nowhere to Run”, “Jimmy Mack”, and “Dancing in the Street”.
6. The Marvelettes – Another Motown lawsuit in the 80s
The Marvelettes were a Motown girl group known for the hits “Please Mr Postman”, “Too Many Fish in the Sea” (which they chose over “Where Did Our Love Go”), “I’ll Keep Holding On”, and “Don’t Mess With Bill”. Like with a lot of Motown acts, the decline began with members leaving or becoming difficult to work with. Gladys Horton left the group to take care of her kid, Sammie, who was born with cerebral palsy. Wanda Rogers was difficult to work with because she wouldn’t always show up to concerts.
In the 80s, members of the Marvelettes sued Motown, complaining that they received no royalties for their work. On top of that, they didn’t own the rights to their name! Without the singers, the name Marvelettes wouldn’t mean anything.
The Marvelettes were also victims of fake groups claiming to be them. In 1989, Gladys Horton tried to reunite the Marvelettes, but got into legal problems with businessman Larry Marshak, who bought the Marvelettes name from Motown. He was notorious for casting singers who were never part of the group for a fake touring groups that claimed to be 50s and 60s doo-wop or girl groups, which deceived audiences who paid hard earned money for concert tickets. Thanks to truth in music advertising laws, these groups that have no members of the band can only call themselves tributes and that has to be in big letters.
The battle over the rights to the name continued for decades. Gladys Horton died in 2011, and sadly never got the rights to the Marvelettes name.
7. “Louie, Louie” – Songwriter Richard Berry got no royalties in the 60s, Kingsmen singer Jack Ely got screwed over by the industry and his band
“Louie, Louie” is a song that has been covered by over 2,000 different bands. It’s the second most covered rock song, only behind The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. In 1983, a California radio station had a Louie Louie Marathon that played every single version of the song that they knew existed. In total, it lasted over 63 hours. Here is a video of Lady Bo, Richard Berry, and Jack Ely performing the song.
Here’s a playlist I made with all the versions I could find on Spotify. This is just scratching the surface.
Obviously, the best known version is the rough, unpolished Kingsmen version from 1963. No one expected that version to be a hit. It sounded more like a demo than a proper single, but that’s what people loved about it. It was a precursor to the raw, energetic garage rock subgenre.
This is one of those one hit wonder songs that I wanted to see Todd in the Shadows cover on his One Hit Wonderland series. Since he hasn’t talked about it yet, you’ll have to put up with me telling the story of it until someone requests him to make a One Hit Wonderland episode about it.
The song was written by Richard Berry who got his start in doo-wop groups in LA in the 50s. He wrote “Louie Louie” in 1955. It was different from what he usually did because it was Caribbean inspired. Two years later, he recorded it and it was a minor hit. In this version though, you can clearly understand the lyrics. In cover versions though, bands modified the lyrics and changed them up. He didn’t think it was going to go anywhere, so he sold the rights for $750 to pay for his wedding. It was common practise then. Another hit song he wrote that he was well known for was “Have Love, Will Travel” – popularised by PNW garage rock band The Sonics in 1965.
Fast forward to the 60s and bands started covering it. Most of these bands were in the Pacific Northwest: Rockin’ Robin Roberts in 1960 and The Kingsmen and Paul Revere and The Raiders in 1963. The latter two versions were recorded in the same studio just a week apart. The Raiders’ version was more polished and easier to understand and you’d think that would be more of a success, but that wasn’t the case. It was the spontaneous, amateurishly recorded, garbled lyrics, one take version that made it big. It was originally supposed to be an instrumental, but last minute Jack Ely said he’ll sing.
Why did the lyrics sound garbled? First off, the whole thing was impromptu and recorded in one take as if it were being performed live. No time to prepare. There are three microphones in the room. The microphone for the vocals was suspended from the ceiling way above the singer’s head. The only way to be heard above the guitars and drums was to shout with your head tilted. On top of that, there were mistakes: Lynn Easton yelling “fuck” when he dropped his drumstick (which wasn’t caught by the FBI) and Ely singing too early after the guitar solo and pausing then starting again.
At first, The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” sold almost no copies and the band were going to break up. Afterwards, the band went through drama. Original members Lynn Easton and Jack Ely had an argument over who would be the drummer and singer and Ely wasn’t happy so he left and he was drafted into the army around that time. When the song became successful, selling millions of copies (12 million in the end), he wanted back in the band but Easton wouldn’t let him back in, so he started another Kingsmen group to capitalise on the success of the song. And that led to one legal battle. Easton owned the band name, but lipsynced to the studio take. In the end, Ely had to stop using the Kingsmen name despite being an original member and Easton had to stop lipsyncing.
In Boston, a DJ named Arnie Ginsburg had a segment called Worst Record of the Week and “Louie Louie” was featured on it multiple times, but listeners liked it and wanted copies and kept requesting it. It ended up being the last #1 in the pre-Beatlemania era.
It grew in popularity thanks to a scandal because of the unintelligible lyrics. Kids would try to guess the lyrics and rumours spread that there were secret messages and sexual lyrics. Since they had no internet, people would play the record slower to figure out the lyrics. People hear what they want to hear in these situations. University students brought the record home from winter break and parents were outraged.
The song got banned in the state of Indiana because a well-connected parent of a university student reported it to the governor and then the FBI investigated the song. They contacted Richard Berry, but not the Kingsmen, and he showed them the lyrics, but said I don’t think they’ll believe me. The FBI concluded the song was unintelligible at any speed.
In the 80s, Richard Berry was contacted because “Louie Louie” was to be used in an advert and they needed him to sign off on it. The lawyer who brought him the papers to sign saw him living in poor conditions, on welfare living with his mother. The lawyer said he could sue to get the rights back so he did that and became a millionaire as a result. He died of heart failure in 1997.
As for The Kingsmen (minus Ely), they sued their record label because they didn’t get any royalties since the 60s. In 1998, the band got ownership of all their recordings. What became of the band members? Don Gallucci worked as a record producer. Lynn Easton worked for an advertising firm and hosted a Bandstand like show in Portland.
Last, we get to Jack Ely. He was in the army for a time, then came back and found the music industry had moved on. He fell into a drug and alcohol addiction, cleaned up and got involved in Rockers Against Drugs and bought a farm where he trained horses. He also advocated for the Performance Rights Act, which would ensure performers get paid for their recordings. At the moment, if you’re not a songwriter, you don’t get paid. He was never bitter about how things turned out, just found it cool that he was part of a historic one hit wonder. He died in 2015 of an unknown illness.
8. The Shangri-Las – Short lived success, but didn’t have anything to show for it
The Shangri-Las were the bad girls of rock and roll. Before Suzi Quatro, Debbie Harry, and Joan Jett, you had the Shangri Las, a group of two sets of teenage sisters: Mary and Betty Weiss and Marge and Mary Ann Ganser. Like a lot of teenage bands, they played talent shows and school dances.
One day, controversial music industry executive Artie Ripp discovered them and got them a record deal. The group didn’t have a name at first, but they chose Shangri-Las inspired by the name of a local restaurant. In 1964, everything changed for the girls. Record producer Shadow Morton hired them to record hits that he wrote like “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” and teenage tragedy song “Leader of the Pack”. Their image was a bad girl image and the group said it helped keep musicians they were touring with from making advances.
These singles were so successful that the girls had to leave school so they could make television appearances and play concerts. They opened for The Beatles, Rolling Stones, James Brown, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, The Young Rascals, and The Animals. They even got an endorsement deal with Revlon.
However, the group had problems even in the 60s. They’d often appear as a trio with members popping in and out. Their success was short lived and by 1966 their singles weren’t even breaking the top 50. Two years later, the band broke up and everyone vanished, as if they dropped off the face of the earth. In a time period of a few years, they sold millions of records, but had received almost no royalties, a very common problem faced by girl groups of the 60s.
Mary Weiss moved between New York City and San Francisco. Because of lawsuits, she couldn’t record for a while. She worked various jobs: secretary, accounting department for an architectural firm, chief purchasing agent for that same firm, manager of a furniture store, interior designer, and furniture consultant for various businesses. She released a solo album in 2007.
Betty had a daughter in 1964 and left the band to raise her kid. She was the only one in the band who had a kid. She went back to working day jobs and moved to Long Island.
Mary Ann’s story is really sad and tragically cut short. After the breakup of the Shangri-Las, she fell into the spiral of a drug and alcohol addiction. She died in 1970 at the age of 22 of a drug overdose.
Marge went back to school after the band broke up, went into the workforce, and got married. She died of breast cancer in 1996.
9. The Coasters – One member of an offshoot group was killed by the Coasters’ former manager
Trigger Warning: discussion of murder and violence
This R&B vocal group were famous for 50s hits “Searchin'”, “Yakety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, and “Down in Mexico”. They were the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (all other musicians inducted before them were solo acts, except for the Everly Brothers – a duo). The songs they sang had funny, quirky lyrics and their live shows were full of antics. They were successful for a short period of time in the late 50s, but by the 60s, they were in a lull because of changing and evolving music tastes.
Over the years, multiple members died of murder. In 1971, saxophonist King Curtis was stabbed to death by two junkies outside his apartment. In 1980, Nate Wilson (a member of one of Cornelius Gunter’s groups) was shot in Las Vegas and dismembered with his body being found in California. In 1990, Cornelius Gunter was shot to death in a Las Vegas car park.
Former manager Patrick Cavanaugh was convicted of the murder of Nate Wilson in 1984 and got the death penalty, but it was later commuted to a life sentence. Cavanaugh was afraid that Wilson was going to report him for being involved in a phoney cheque scheme. He died in prison in 2006.
The Coasters were another group who were victims of promoters who would use the name and have imposter bands tour using their name. In the 70s multiple bands would tour as The Coasters, even though original member Carl Gardner had the rights to the name and would try to stop bogus groups.
10. The Animals – Victims of Mike Jeffery
The Animals were best known for their version of “House of the Rising Sun”, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life”, and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. These songs are oldies staples that people remember and appreciate today, but they were the victims of poor business management.
According to an article on Ready Steady Gone, Mike Jeffery arranged for The Animals to sign a contract with the notorious Don Arden for live work and Mickie Most for a record deal, but Mickie Most said that songs should be recorded, then the distribution rights sold to a label. Mike Jeffery and Mickie Most got a deal with Columbia where they each would be paid 2% and the band would share 2% – shared among 5 people, that’s not a lot of money.
Jeffery also made a decision that favoured keyboard player Alan Price, at the cost of everyone else. Price was credited with arranging “House of the Rising Sun”, the band’s biggest hit. Jeffery said it was for practical reasons, but the rest of the band should get a piece of the pie, but did they get a piece of the pie? Not exactly. It’s even more a slap in the face that Alan Price left the band a year later and kept the royalties for himself.
Mike Jeffery and Don Arden did raise the band’s profile from local success to international success, getting them a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, but he changed their image to a more clean cut Beatle like look.
Much of the money the Animals made went to Jeffery so he could open up various nightclubs all over the place in Mallorca and Paris and buying a home in London. Meanwhile, Jeffery and Most were dealing with two business partners suing them for not paying proceeds of “House of the Rising Sun”.
In 1965, The Animals left Mickie Most and signed with MGM and Decca, six figure advance, but the band got almost nothing. Why? Because Mike Jeffery made off with the money, started a corporation called Yameta, and stored the money in a tax haven in the Caribbean. Jimi Hendrix got screwed over the same way. His earnings went into that company.
This scene from South Park perfectly sums up what happens with the money rock stars generate.
When the band broke up, they were each supposed to get £40k, but no one got anything. Chas Chandler went to the Bahamas and found out the bank accounts were closed, the money vanished. The Animals believe that their money was used to market Jimi Hendrix and kick start his career.
In this BBC documentary, Eric Burdon tells the story.
11. Isaac Hayes – Owed $5.3 million in royalties
Isaac Hayes was one of the best known Stax musicians. He had early success with writing “Soul Man” with David Porter. In the late 60s and early 70s, he started releasing albums of his own. His biggest successes were Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses, and Shaft. He was the third black person to win an Oscar, after Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel. Shaft also won him two Grammys.
Stax Records was started by brother and sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton in Memphis. It was an important soul and R&B record label. It had success in the 60s, but by 1973, there were financial problems caused by a bad distribution deal with CBS Records and Clive Davis. The rest of CBS weren’t interested in promoting and selling music by black artists from Stax because they didn’t want to undercut their R&B artists and give them less shelf space. Record stores in black neighbourhoods in big cities like Chicago and Detroit weren’t getting records from Stax and customers weren’t happy. CBS put Stax artists on the back burner.
Stax employees worked without pay for six months because they believed in the company and it felt like a family to them and the owners of the label had a vision. The IRS investigated Stax and the label was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1975 and closed down in 1976. Co-owner Al Bell tried to save the company and was indicted for bank fraud, but was acquitted.
How did this affect Isaac Hayes? When the record label is bankrupt and can’t even pay its employees, how can it pay its artists? He was owed $5.3 million in back royalties and sued Stax. Hayes had to declare bankruptcy not only because of being owed money, but because of his lavish lifestyle. He owed over $6 million to the IRS and lost the rights to future royalties on songs he wrote and sang, his home, and many possessions.
In the 90s, his career came back with him playing Chef on South Park, but he left after the show made fun of Scientology (which was Isaac Hayes’ religion). As a result, he lost a lot of income from that and had to go back to touring and performing. He passed away in 2008.
12. P-Funk – Funk pioneer, George Clinton, supposedly lost the right to his most famous songs in 1982. Was the bankruptcy declaration legitimate? What about the band members?
George Clinton is considered one of the innovators of funk music. His beginnings were in doo-wop and his sound evolved over time into the psychedelic funk we all know and love.
He is best known as the leader of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective whose sounds take inspiration from science fiction, the psychedelic rock of Hendrix, the experimental rock of Zappa, and surreal humour. P-Funk are considered influential to hip hop, post disco, and Afrofuturism. They’re best known for the albums Maggot Brain, Mothership Connection, and One Nation Under a Groove. You might know the songs “Flash Light” and “Give Up The Funk”. He’s one of the most sampled musicians ever. The Mothership is in the Smithsonian at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
With a list of successes and being one of the inventors of funk, you’d think George Clinton has it made, set for life. Articles claim that he filed for bankruptcy in 1982, but he claims that it was forged and a “systematic fraud” to deny him of millions that he earned through his music. When filing for bankruptcy, he didn’t declare royalties on music written from 1976-1982 as future earnings, so those were taken away and a judge barred him from profiting from the songs. He claims that Bridgeport Music fraudulently took the copyrights to his recordings. He went to the FBI to report being defrauded, but they were no help to him. He says he still doesn’t have his publishing rights.
If you want to read Bernie Worrell’s side of the story, click here. He said that the bankruptcy was not a farce. According to Bernie Worrell, he and the other musicians in P-Funk never got any royalties from any albums sold. Bernie sued George for unpaid session work, arrangements, co-production, and playing on tour. Bernie’s wife alleges that George owes Bernie and other musicians in the group a lot of money. In 2019, his estate sued George Clinton for unpaid royalties. In the lawsuit, the widow claims that the whole band got addicted to drugs because of George Clinton’s drug culture.
Bernie Worrell never spoke about the situation in interviews because he wanted to keep his spirits up and this was a situation that made him sad. So his wife spoke on his behalf in a series of blog posts linked in the above paragraph.
A very messy situation indeed. Who do you believe?
13. Harry Nilsson – Manager stole millions, leaving him with only $300 in his bank account
Harry Nilsson got his start in the 60s as a songwriter. Little Richard was so impressed with his voice he told him “My! You sing good for a white boy!” And there began his recording career, first recording under the pseudonym Bo Pete. He continued writing songs and had a day job as a computer programmer at a bank. In 1966, his debut album Spotlight on Nilsson was released. His songs were recorded by The Shangri-Las, The Yardbirds, and The Monkees. He befriended Micky Dolenz and with The Monkees recording his songs, he was making enough money to quit his day job. He got his biggest successes in the late 60s and early 70s with albums Harry, Nilsson Sings Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson, and Son of Schmilsson.
By the age of 30, he was a millionaire, but at the end of his life he was bankrupt and talking to creditors. Why? His business manager for his production company Hawkeye, Cindy Sims, screwed him over, stealing millions of earnings from royalties from his bank account and leaving him with only $300 left. She would even take off and hide all the foreclosure notices on his home so he thought everything was fine.
The Nilssons’ money was here one day and gone the next. In 1991, they moved to Hidden Hills and put their Bel-Air home up for sale and they discovered what Sims did. She got away with just a slap on the wrist, serving only 2 years in prison and never paying restitution to the Nilssons.
He died of heart failure at the age of 52.
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It’s such a damn shame there were (are) so many parasitic scumbag crooks out there who steal their clients’ money or damage artists’ careers.
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my name is edwin james jones 11 . i performed at motown and golden world , united sound etc b star on french horn in the late 60’s early 70’s.. i received a royalty for a burger king commercial for an’t nothing like the real thing baby around the year 2001??? then i wondered why i hadn’t had others,, the marvin gaye recording in the movies like remember the titans the red corner big chill etc. i never got a dime , i’m a fifty six year member of the detroit musicians … my friend paul rizer wrote the first french horn parts ever played at motown for me,, the union presidents agree there’s a french horn on the record ,however the 18 musicians on the official union contract has no one capable of blowing a french horn except for maybe johnny trudell,, the union refuses to help me and contracts are lost. i was 21 at the time and never thought about residuals.. i played session in the mid 60’s and we got a whopping 415.00 for every completed song i joined the union in 68 ,,the grapevine was done in 68,, i’m beginning to think that they dubbed sessions together and only filed for one of them..Bernadette was another hit that made the motion pictures.. i was pretty proud at the time when i heard myself .. the people handling motion pictures sent me the contract on grapevine ,, the current president,, of the union in detroit hears the horn for sure,,nobody else has claimed this ,,gordy i realized screwed alot of people because not only young white kids he screwed several of my friends i went to cass tech and Wayne state with ..i’m old ,,but not stupid , edwin windgate was no doubt the head or one of the heads of the detroit rackets ..golden world was sold to gordy because he was to be federally indicted in numbers and other crimes.. ..i wondered if his money wasn’t where gordy got his start.. but i have never heard that ..maybe he was the logical person to sell golden world to??? it’s over 50 years ago ..i’m trying to remember for sure if my part was played at motown or golden world ,it was 1968. however i remember playing the song track as if it was yesterday..levis commercials..raison .. big solo for me ..however no residuals.. when i came back to detroit i was told by old friends like Dyna hHartwick paul rizer for just two hoe gordy cheated alot of people ..Paul Rizer did alot of work there… i played sesiions with John Dion don Ozga Bill Brown french horn players on differnt sessions .. i’ll figure out some way to embarrass,, gory i did a photo session in front of motown in my jag a couple years ago ,, i entitled it the ghost of motown,,as i drove a 1951 jag xk120 to sessions in the winter without a top?no i wasn’t crazy just didn’t have a top ,,
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Edwin, that’s an incredibly sad story. Session musicians are a big part of music history and they deserve so much more credit and they deserve so much more compensation. Without the musicians, there’d be no record, it’s awful that the dishonest record executives and managers hoarded the money for themselves. If you want to tell your story, I’d be willing to write an article on it. I’d like to find out more.
[…] music, like any of the arts, isn’t a get rich quick scheme and you can easily get screwed over, and in some cases, some rock stars may have to go back to day jobs. The Kinks wrote a whole album […]
These are appalling anecdotes, some of which even had escaped me over the years. Thank you. Unfortunately, the quality of the prose is uniformly sloppy and appalling. Indeed, it is laughable. I exaggerate little when I say that I wrote with more wit and style back in the fourth grade.
Cheers! I’d love to see your writing! Maybe there’s something I can learn from it! 😉