May 25, 2018 / 10:31 PM

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Quincy Jones sues Michael Jackson estate for $10 million, 'Thriller' producer says contract violated, royalties owed


Quincy Jones is a legend in the music industry, having won 27 Grammys for his work as a producer. None of his work is more famous than that he did with pop superstar Michael Jackson however. Now, Jones is suing the estate of the late performer, alleging that MJJ Music (a music company managed by the estate) and Sony Music Entertainment negotiated deals on the side the prevented the producer from receiving royalties and credit he was owed for use of Jackson's music.

Following Jackson's death during 2009, sales of the performer's music saw a renewed popularity, which multiple agencies took advantage of. Columbia Pictures released This Is It, a film detailing the behind-the-scenes action preparing for the tour of the same name, which never occurred due to Jackson's death. Cirque de Soleil has also toured the world with Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour, which has earned an estimated $300 million since its debut. The troupe also debuted Michael Jackson: One in Las Vegas this year.

Issues come into play for Jones when dealing with the soundtracks of said productions, of course. The producer signed contracts with Jackson in 1979 and 1985 that stated Jones would be the first producer given the opportunity to remix the performer's solo work, other users would be required to seek Jones's permission before combining the originals masters with any other recording, and that Jones would receive production credit whenever the original masters were used for other projects. Needless to say, the original masters for Thriller and Bad - two of the bestselling albums of all time and only a small example of the pair's work together- were tinkered with during the making of the current productions, as well as a number of posthumous music collections released by Sony.

Jones' complaint states that Sony and MJJ conducted "clandestine agreements" to ensure that proper royalties didn't find their way to the producer. He's suing for $10 million, back royalties owed to him, remixing fees, as well damages for the credit he failed to receive.

"[The Jackson Estate] was saddened to learn that Quincy Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking money from Michael's estate," a lawyer said in a statement. "To the best of its knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael."

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