Quincy Jones was one of Michael Jackson’s most prominent and longstanding collaborators—the legendary record producer was behind some of the late pop icon’s greatest albums, including Off The Wall and Thriller. Their partnership is obviously an important chapter in both their careers, but that story just got a little complicated thanks to—what else?—money.
In 2013, Jones filed suit against Jackson’s estate, which is overseen by attorney John Branca and a music insider John McClain (not that one), alleging that he was owed $30 million in unpaid royalties. The case went to trial today, where Jones’ lawyers argued that their client hadn’t received a proportionate share of the royalties since Jackson’s death. Meanwhile, the defense deployed a substitute teacher’s strategy and showed a clip from a movie. Okay, so the video was actually pertinent to the proceedings–it was from the 2009 documentary about Jackson, This Is It.
After the singer died in 2009, there was a considerable surge of renewed interest in his music, which meant more royalties. But Jones claims that no tributaries from that new river of cash have actually flowed in his direction. Then there’s the not-so-small matter of This Is It, which became the highest-grossing music documentary ever. Jones doesn’t believe he’s received his fair share of those profits either; the film did, after all, have to pay to use songs from the hit records Jones produced.
Jackson’s estate balked at that the $30 million number in court, but seems to have acknowledged that Jones is owed something, though they think it’s closer to the $2 to $3 million dollars it offered him before the trial began. Additionally, Blanca acknowledged that failing to credit Jones in This Is It was an error. But, the executor said, “It was never our practice to cheat … Mr. Jones. [Plaintiff’s counsel is] creating a false impression.”