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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Youngbloods -- Who Sang that Song, You Know It -- Sued for Millions

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge It ain't the checkered jacket that got The Youngbloods sued...
  • It ain't the checkered jacket that got The Youngbloods sued...
The 1960s-era rock group that sang one of the all-time odes to love, reconciliation, and collaborative methods of diffusing disputes has, naturally enough, become enmeshed in a nasty, multi-million-dollar lawsuit with its former record company.

Arista records on Monday filed suit against the surviving members of the Youngbloods - you remember them - claiming the musicians knowingly lied while negotiating settlement agreements in the 1990s, which led to a lawsuit against Arista in 2007 the company has spent $2 million and counting to fend off.

The suit isn't penned by songwriters, but indignant lawyers. It doesn't rhyme, you can't dance to it, and lump-sum payments and settlement agreements aren't exactly a lyricist's subject of choice. But bear with us as we summarize the details: The Youngbloods' lineup featured vocalist Jesse Colin Young (born Perry Miller), Jerry Corbitt, Lowell Levinger, and Joe Bauer. If you haven't heard of them, your parents certainly have.

In 1995, surviving members of the band entered into settlements with Arista's corporate predecessors claiming they - and only they - were entitled to make claims to royalty payments. When money started rolling in once more after a Youngbloods tune - "Get Together," always "Get Together" - appeared on the Forrest Gump soundtrack, the band's surviving members plus Bauer's widow negotiated another agreement in 1997, claiming, once again, that only they could stake a claim to Youngbloods royalty payments.

So, Arista was surprised in '07 when an entity calling itself "The Youngblood Company" sued the label. According to the suit, the label this month discovered that the band's surviving members knew that others - their lawyer, a former manager, etc. -- could make a claim to royalties, even as they swore otherwise in both '95 and '97. Since those agreements were intended to stave off just such a suit as the one Arista has spent upwards of $2 million fighting for the past three years, this is not a trivial complaint.

The label has set forth enough demands to fill up a double album: It wants both the settlements voided; a return of all its royalty payments since 1995; the $2 million it's blown fighting the '07 suit, and more.

The Youngbloods' most famous lyrics, sadly, appear to be no match for the brute force of the legal system:

C'mon people now,

Smile on your brother

Ev'rybody get together

Try and love one another right now

H/T | Courthouse News

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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