LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The estate of Sky Saxon, former songwriter and frontman for the 60s garage rock outfit The Seeds who died in 2009, has sued his label, GNP Crescendo Record over royalties.
Saxon signed a record deal in 1965 with GNP Crescendo Record Co., Inc., a Los Angeles-based company that specialized in jazz recordings, run by Gene Norman, a former concert promoter and DJ. At that time, he also signed a music publishing deal with Neil Music, Inc., which is a sister company of GNP. The Seeds and Saxon went on to have hits in 1965 and 1966 with "Pushin' Too Hard," "Can't Seem to Make You Mine," and "Mr. Farmer."
According to the estate, Saxon has never received royalties from GNP Crescendo or their music publishing company because GNP contends that Saxon signed away all of his royalties, forever, based upon three minor transactions: A $500 payment for "Pushin' Too Hard" in late 1972, a loan for $250 in mid-1973 (that Saxon did not pay back), for all of Saxon's other songs, and a loan for $350 from late 1973 (that Saxon also did not pay back), for all of Saxon's record and producer's royalties.
The estate is seeking, via lawsuit, a rescission of all Saxon's record and publishing deals, and for royalties for the past four years and has asked the court to set aside these three transactions, on the grounds that they are so oppressive and unfair that they should be void, as a matter of public policy, that is, "unconscionable." Unconscionable is a term used in contractual law as a defense against the enforcement of a contract based on the presence of terms that are excessively unfair to one party. Contracts such as this are often considered to be unenforceable because the terms are patently unfair or consideration so lacking that enforcement would be unfair to the party seeking exit from the contract.
The estate is also seeking control of all of Saxon's musical properties from GNP.
In response, the companies (which are now run by Neil Norman, son of Gene Norman) have taken the position that the three petty deals from 1972 and 1973 are "buy-outs" of any and all royalties forever.
The motion to determine the issue of unconscionability will be heard on March 8, 2011. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers