NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) – BMG Rights Management is being sued by heirs of The Gap Band members Robert and Ronnie Wilson over alleged unpaid royalties for the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ 2014 hit song, “Uptown Funk.”
The Gap Band brothers, Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson, wrote the 1979 song, “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops Upside Your Head), and were added as co-writers of “Uptown Funk,” along with producers Rudolph Taylor and Lonnie Simmons in 2015. They joined the six co-writers already credited on the song: Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Jeff Bhasker and Philip Lawrence. In addition, Nicholas Williams (Trinidad James) and Devon Gallaspy received credits for using a sample of “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James.
The lawsuit reads in part, “On March 31, 2015, Minder Music entered into a written agreement with Defendant BMG, Universal Music Corp., Sony/ATV Songs LLC, and Imagem C.V. (collectively the ‘Uptown Funk Parties’) whereby the Uptown Funk Parties assigned 3.4% of the copyright in Uptown Funk to Ronnie Wilson and 3.4% to Robert Wilson as compensation for incorporating the Original Composition into Uptown Funk”.
The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan court on January 12, claims that BMG “has failed and refused to pay Plaintiffs or account to them for royalties they are obligated to pay Plaintiffs pursuant to a written contract as co-writers of Uptown Funk. “
BMG acquired London-based independent music publisher Minder Music and its catalog in July 2015. The acquisition included Minder’s rights in The Gap Band.
“By acquiring Minder, BMG is obligated, by both law and contract, to account for and pay to Robert Wilson and Ronnie Wilson all income received from the “Uptown Funk” musical composition,” claims the lawsuit.
The heirs of the two Gap Band members claim that BMG’s breach of their 2015 agreement caused the estates in excess of $75,000 in monetary damages. They are also seeking compensatory damages for the breach of contract, plus a 9% interest per year from 2015.
“Oops Upside Your Head” was released by The Gap Band in 1979 under their album The Gap Band II. The song reached No.4 on the US Billboard R&B chart.
Nearly forty years later, “Uptown Funk” debuted as the lead single from Ronson’s fourth studio album, Uptown Special. It was certified 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Speaking with Billboard in 2015 about creating the hit, Ronson said: “We didn’t take anything from “Oops Upside Your Head” intentionally or unintentionally.”
Ronson sold 70% of the publishing and writer’s share interest in his catalog, which comprises 315 songs, to Hipgnosis Songs Fund in April 2020.
Ronson and Mars are not named in the lawsuit.