Quincy Jones produced “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad.” Michael Jackson fans like to think the King of Pop did everything himself, but Q made those albums what they are. He produced all the tracks, shaped them, arranged them. Now he’s suing Jackson’s estate and Sony for all the remixes and reissues they’ve done since Michael died. Jones claims in the lawsuit, filed Friday night, that he had very solid contracts detailing how his permission was needed to do anything. And neither Sony nor the Estate, he says, ever consulted him.
This was brewing for a long time. Despite Quincy putting on a good face during Michael’s memorial service and funeral, the famed producer was not happy. It had been a long time since he’d seen or spoken to Michael. And Jackson was not one to share credit. In the 90s and 2000s Jackson seemingly excised Quincy from his history as he himself believed in the King of Pop nickname.
The issue will be over permission to alter Quincy’s famous tracks, and how much money he is owed for that. In the lawsuit. Jones is alleging that Sony and MJJ Productions (aka The Jackson Estate) set up a “secret” company so that Quincy could not keep track of what was going on. The complaint details “Disguised Royalties” and “Clandestine Agreements.”
At the heart of the issue are post-death projects like the “This is It” movie and the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. Songs from all three albums that Quincy produced with Michael are used, reworked, and mixed up to make them seem new and different. Those three albums constitute the heart of Jackson’s moneymaking, with most of his hits coming from them. Subsequent albums like “Dangerous,” “HIStory,” and “Invincible” simply are not on that plane.
Jones’s complaint eyeballs his losses at $10 million or more. Stay tuned because there’s more to come. This could get interesting. Much as the Jackson executors have done a very good job with Michael’s estate, Quincy Jones wouldn’t be filing such a lawsuit unless there was some validity to his claim.