James Brown led a decorated career in music for decades as the Godfather of Soul, delivering classic hits like “Please, Please, Please,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” before his death at the age of 73 on Christmas Day 2006.
A legal battle for his estate has surprisingly been ongoing for the past 15 years since his passing, but thankfully we can now report that a multimillion-dollar settlement has finally been reached and it’s quite lucrative to say the least.
Publishing and management company Primary Wave was sold the rights to Brown’s long-stretching catalogue of chart-topping soul hits. The deal also comes with his publishing, master income stream, name and likeness rights, which according to The New York Times set Primary Wave back a cool $90 million.
Much of the back and forth was due to the fact that Brown left majority of his assets to creating scholarships for underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia, leaving his heirs nothing but possessions, stage costumes and $2 million earmarked for the education of Brown’s grandchildren. As expected, this led to a decade-and-a-half of contention that delayed distribution of the entire will altogether.
More on the history behind the battle for James Brown’s estate below, via Rolling Stone:
“With the estate sale, Brown’s scholarship fund is that much closer to coming to fruition. As the Times reported, the money from the sale will fund the scholarships, and Primary Wave’s founder and CEO Larry Mestel told the paper the company will contribute small percentages of earnings from future deals from Brown’s music to the scholarships. Still, Adele Pope, a former executor of Brown’s will, has an ongoing lawsuit against Brown’s estate. And Russell Bauknight, the fiduciary for the James Brown Estate and Trust, filed another against Pope. Until those suits are resolved, the Times reported, the scholarships can’t move forward.
‘The James Brown Estate and related Trust are very proud and excited to work with Larry Mestel and Primary Wave,’ Bauknight said in a statement. ‘We believe that our choice of professionals to take the James Brown Legacy to the next level is going to prove to be one of the most successful events in Mr. Brown’s long history in show business.'”
What this sale could mean for the future of James Brown’s musical legacy can go in one of many ways, but looking at what Primary Wave has already done for fellow client and late music icon Whitney Houston — a 2019 hologram tour and recent NFT collection are just some of the creative ways they’re keeping The Voice alive — shows a lot of promise for what’s to come.
R.I.P forever to the Godfather Of Soul, and may his legacy continue to get the respect it rightfully deserves from all those involved.
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