Quincy Jones Suing Michael Jackson Estate for Posthumous Royalties

Quincy Jones, the man who produced Michael Jackson’s epic Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad albums, filed a $10 million lawsuit against the late pop star’s estate and Sony Music Entertainment on Friday (Oct. 25.)

Jones charges that he was swindled out of royalties from the This Is It film and soundtrack, Michael Jackson’s Cirque du Soleil shows The Immortal Tour and ONE, plus the 25th anniversary edition of Bad. The use of the music that Jones originally produced in these venturs is a breach-of-contract he charges, and is ready to butt heads with Sony Music Entertainment and MJJ Production, the publishing company controlled by Jackson’s estate, about it in court.

In court documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jones explains that he signed contracts when originally working with Jackson in the ’70s and ’80s that gave him the first opportunity to reedit or remix the master recordings, plus additional royalties if any of the songs were remixed. His written consent was also required if the remixes were to be done by other parties.

Following Jackson’s death in June of 2009, both named parties went to town, feeding the public with new Jackson material thanks to his newfound popularity. This Is It, which grossed $300 million, used reworked tunes like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and “Billy Jean.” The Cirque du Soleil shows re-edited “Burn the Disco Out,” “Workin’ Day and Night,” “Baby Be Mine” and more, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Jones filed the suit because he believes his contract was breached and others remixed his work “without first providing a reasonable opportunity to Jones to perform such remixes and/or re-edits.”

“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,” said his attorney Henry Gradstein.

The Jackson Estate responded by saying they were “saddened” over the allegations. “To the best of its knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael,” their statement read.