Part of the inherent fun of music lies in the debates. There are never any rights or wrongs when it comes to taste (unless you’re listening to The Dixie Chicks. STOP IT ALREADY YOU’RE WRONG). Unfortunately, some fans can’t settle thse debates and find it necessary to take it to court. Just last month we told you about Bob Marley and the lawsuit against his music. Now it seems that a rare [lastfm]Jimi Hendrix [/lastfm]tune is under debate. Sure, these copyright legalities little the music industry, but perhaps the strangest part of this story are the parties involved: The Jimi Hendrix Estate, an old saxophone player named Lonnie Youngblood, and Martin Scorsese.
Each party claims to have a different attachment to the song. Before we get into the “he said, she said” debate, let’s take a look at the song itself.
Recorded back in the mid-1960s before Hendrix has made a name for himself, the young guitarist was found of playing in Youngblood’s band. While the two often jammed together, Hendrix found noted popularity after he went solo. Never one to forget his roots, Hendrix and Youngblood reunited in 1969, went into a New York studio, recorded “Georgia Blues” and probably smoked some pot.
For the most part, the song was forgotten. The song didn’t resurface until 2003 when Scorsese used the tune in his PBS special, “The Blues”. The special gave way to a couple of albums, and the track was included on Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: Jimi Hendrix. This was the first red flag that alerted Youngblood to his “injustice”.
Just this past year Youngblood sued The Hendrix estate, MCA Records and even Scorsese himself. His claims were simple and to the point, declaring that the song was used and released without his permission and without his credit.
The Hendrix Estate fired back this past week with counterclaims and the copyright monster is born again. Both parties claim they own the song. Both parties say the copyright is in their name. Both parties are slowly draining the soul out of Jimi’s song.
How does this case end? In the courts, like they all do:
According to papers filed in New Jersey District Court, Hendrix produced and recorded the song at his own cost. The estate says the two-day session at the Record Plant Studio in New York produced several Hendrix tracks, including “Georgia Blues,” which have remained in the physical possession of the estate since that time.
Now the Estate is claiming Youngblood owes them money for all the false royalties he has claimed over the years.
Just another account of overwhelming greed trumping music. If Jimi were still alive today, do you think he would even care at this point? After all, we don’t remember Francis Scott Key taking Jimi to court after he played “The Star-Spangled Banner”.