Quincy Jones Files $10M Lawsuit Against Michael Jackson’s Estate

    October 26, 2013
    Meaghan Ellis
    Comments are off for this post.

Legendary music record producer and songwriter, Quincy Jones, has filed a lawsuit against the estate of Michael Jackson. He alleges that the singer owes him millions in record royalties and production fees associated with some of Jackson’s greatest hits.

Jones’ lawsuit seeks compensation in the amount of an estimated $10 million from Jackson’s estate and Sony Music Entertainment. His claim also states that both entities knowingly released re-mastered versions of the songs in an effort to manipulate his entitlement to royalties and production-related cost. In addition to being used for the “This Is It” soundtrack, the re-mastered music was also included in several Cirque du Soleil shows based on a number of Jackson’s hits that Jones produced.

Jones’ legal team also points out that the act of re-mastering the records is an concise breach of contract. Jones’ production contracts with Jackson stated that he was entitled to have the first call in regards to any editing of the songs, as a means of protecting his professional reputation and musicianship.

According to Billboard, Jones also claims that he went unaccredited for his work on Jackson’s final project, “This Is It.” Jones’ legal counsel is requesting a full accounting report of the estate’s earnings from the works in question to determine how much he is entitled to. “Quincy has been frustrated with these matters for a number of years, felt he was not making any progress and needed to take more formal action,” said Jones’ attorney Henry Gradstein.

The Jackson estate released a brief statement in regards to Jones’ allegations. “To the best of its knowledge, Mr. Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately 35 years for his work with Michael.”

Most people may not know the extent of Jones’ involvement with Michael Jackson’s career, but Jones is responsible for a vast majority of the legendary singer’s most notable hits. If you’ve ever listened to any Michael Jackson record, 9 times out of 10, you’ve heard some of Quincy Jones’ work.


Jones’ produced Jackson’s entire “Off the Wall” album. The 1979 album includes the self-titled “Off the Wall” record, in addition to hit songs like “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough,” “Rock with You,” and “She’s Out of My Life.” As of today, the album has sold more than 20 million copies world wide, and is certified 8x multi-platinum in the United States.


However, Jones’ greatest work with Jackson came with the release of the “Thriller” album. The full nine-track -album that housed seven hit singles was also produced by Jones. “Thriller” has been deemed the “best selling album of all time,” selling an estimated 65 million copies worldwide. The iconic album includes monumental hits including the self-titled “Thriller” track, “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “P.Y.T.,”and “Human Nature.”

Jones’ was also the main producer on Jackson’s “Bad” album, which sold approximately 65 million units worldwide. With hits like, “Leave Me Alone,” “Dirty Diana,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Man in the Mirror,” the “Bad” album is considered Jackson’s second best-selling album, behind “Thriller.


Image(s) via Wikimedia Commons | Quincy Jones   Wikipedia | Michael Jackson  Wikipedia | Thriller (Michael Jackson album)

Wikipedia | Off the Wall album

  • BP

    Do you know that Henry Gradstein, the lawyer of Q, IS the same attorney who is representing Wade Robson in his money grab attempt!

    It says Gradstein & Marzano lawfirm right there on that complaint. (Maryann Marzano (WR attorney’s parter named in the lawsuit document) has more cases like this.)

    The fact he is using the same Attorneys as Wade Robson really disturbs me and question his motives. I truly hope he (Q) wasn’t aware of that. Something seems very fishy (stinky) with that.

    I don’t believe Quincy deliberately hand picked the very same lawyer who represents WR. What I believe is that this guy approaches people in MJ’s life and tries to find a way for them to sue MJ’s Estate and make money.

    The strange thing is not that he represents Quincy.
    Gradstein’s speciality is royalties/business issues. The strange thing is rather that he represents Wade Robson because his specialities do not include child abuse allegations. Even at the beginning of WR’s case many fans remarked that it’s odd. Now I wonder if it started with first weighing Wade’s possibilities to sue the Estate on some business term (for example in connection with the Cirque stuff, Opus, Wade’s earlier contract with MJJ Productions etc.) I wonder if they found no real opportunity there and that’s how it all turned into child abuse allegations. Because the choice of lawyer for that case is certainly very odd.

    I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Gradstein is certainly not the only lawyer in LA and I guess there are plenty who deal with royalties as well. Gradstein now demands access to the Estate’s finances through Quincy’s case. That’s information he could use for WR’s case as well and I don’t think it would be fair.

  • BP

    Michael would’ve never wanted anything to do with him anymore ever again. Yes it’s true Michael didn’t put him on the map, but without Michael Jackson this guy wouldn’t have been half the man he is today. Michael however would have still been THE Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones didn’t make him and most certainly won’t break him.

    I have listened to those raw demotapes and Quincy’s input is minimal, he even got credits on tracks he had no involvement in (Billie Jean, DSTYGE, WNBSS, Beat It etc).

    The fact of the matter is that their partnership produced a great synergy. without MJ, Quincy would not have had the success he had with MJ. yes he had some credentials mostly from the world of Jazz. However, he was an average artist/producer. his success was modest and pales in comparison to the work he did with MJ.

    MJ took him on board because he thought Quincy could understand his artistic vision. That’s what made MJ so unique. he knew exactly what he wanted and was looking for a producer who understood him and allow him to express himself artistically.

    That being said, no-one is trying to take away Quincy’s achievements. but my point is that both had a very effective partnership. so claiming that he made MJ is a gross misrepresentation. MJ success was not down to one person alone. it was the result of a solid team work involving MJ, Quincy, Frank Dileo, Bruce Sweden, Rod Temperson and so many others.

    in addition, Quincy never replicated the success he had with MJ with other artists. which proves my point above.

    Therefore, I think his contribution to MJ success is completely overblown. And Part of the reason the media are so quick to grant every credit in a book to Quincy alone is because of their utter disdain for MJ. They despise him so profoundly that they are willing to strip him of all his credentials if it boils down to that.

    I get frustrated when people want to give all credit to Quincy (which often stems from ignorance – with people thinking Quincy wrote the music on Michael’s albums etc.) and I agree the media built up that myth about MJ having everything to thank to Quincy because they have a deep disdain for Michael. I also think Quincy is a lot more well-connected in the media (he’s got high profile journalists as his friends such as Oprah) which also helped to cement that myth. And he’s also more well-connected in the industry. For example, after Michael parted ways with him in 1989 he made an album with various artists called Back on the Block. It was literally showered with Grammys, while Michael’s Bad was so overlooked by the Grammy board two years ago. Now, I have that album and it’s a good album, but definitely not as good as Bad. I have seen people say Bad sounds dated today but then they should listen to Back on the Block. Now, THAT album is dated! IMO showering it with seven Grammys (just one less than Thriller) was ridiculous and I suspect it was kind of a message by the industry about how it was all about Quincy and not Michael. They were wrong but yes, there was this jealousy of MJ not only in the media but also within the industry.

    IT WAS MICHAEL JACKSON HIMSELF WHO MADE HIS ALBUMS ICONIC, HIS ARTISTIC PERSONALITY/character AND MEDIA IMAGE including his talent and MJ´s PR profile through his videos and iconic fashion style!
    You mean that Quincy who did not like Billie Jean and Smooth Crimminal (both written by MJ=MJ is the songwriter/copywrite owner…) and who wanted to kick them off of the final sessions?

    Billie Jean and Smooth Crimminal are (not only imo) the two MOST ICONIC MJ´s (video/choreography) songs (and amongst the most iconic ever in music history), and what it would have been like without them? For Q or MJ or music?