Quincy Jones, the legendary producer who put Michael Jackson on the map with “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad” albums won $9.4 million today against the singer’s estate in a jury trial.
Jones sued the estate, saying that since Jackson died and his executors turned things around, Jones was owed $30 million from licensing and other royalties. The jury gave him a little less than half what Jones asked for. But it was actually what Jones sued for in the first place– $10 million– before upping the amount.
Jones, who’s 84 and more active than a 54 year old, was already a legend when he produced Jackson’s three biggest selling albums. His contributions to them are almost incalculable. While Michael was certainly a superstar, it was Jones’s approach to the music, his arrangements and his long storied history in jazz and big band sounds that made the albums extra special.
“This lawsuit was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created,” Jones wrote in a statement. “Although this (judgment) is not the full amount that I was seeking, I am very grateful that the jury decided in our favor in this matter. I view it not only as a victory for myself personally, but for artists’ rights overall.”
Jones claimed that for Jackson’s Cirque du Soleil shows and the movie “This is It,” the estate had cut up and reconfigured his work without permission, and then didn’t pay for it. Jones said he had a contractual right of refusal to work on all that material. The jury agreed.
The Jackson estate could have saved itself a lot of aggravation by just going to Jones, the way the Beatles have remained loyal to the late George Martin. But hubris undermined them, as the executors chose to use outsiders.