Pop icon Prince passed away on April 21 at the age of 57.
Prince, we know, was quite particular about his work moreover, he also left behind a treasure trove of it — literally, an entire vault. Add in Prince’s pop-icon status and lack of a will, and we have a recipe for drama over what to do with his legacy. It’s already begun. New Prince recordings that were supposed to debut Friday, on the anniversary of his death, may not come out after the musician’s estate filed a federal lawsuit against the sound engineer behind the EP’s release. The dust-up this week underscores the messiness of music legends’ posthumous careers, which can see many parties battling for creative control amid intense public interest in a body of work and millions of dollars in potential revenue.
In the suit filed in a county court last week and moved to a federal court Tuesday, Paisley Park Enterprises alleges the engineer, George Ian Boxill, doesn’t legally own five recordings, and that in releasing them he’s violating an agreement he signed with Prince that the artist had exclusive ownership over any recordings.
“Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law,” the estate said in a statement sent to media outlets. Attorneys representing Boxill, whose credits includes Janet Jackson, 2Pac and multiple Prince albums, did not immediately return a request for comment. According to a news release announcing the new EP “Deliverance,” Prince and Boxill co-wrote and co-produced all of the tracks starting in 2006, and “the majority of the sales” will benefit the late artist’s estate.
“I believe ‘Deliverance’ is a timely release with everything going on in the world today, and in light of the one-year anniversary of his passing. I hope when people hear Prince singing these songs it will bring comfort to many,” Boxill said in the release. “Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public. When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted.”