One of the great R&B music catalogs, including the classic “Shout,” goes on the auction block next week in bankruptcy court.
Ronald Isley, a member of the Isley Brothers, is in Chapter 7, or involuntary bankruptcy, due in large part to an IRS claim of nearly $5 million. Isley’s assets are scheduled to be auctioned off Jan. 18 in U.S. bankruptcy court in Los Angeles.
The most valuable property is Isley’s share of the group’s music catalog. In addition to “Shout,” the three original Isley brothers — Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly, who died in 1986 — penned over 200 compositions, including “Twist and Shout,” “It’s Your Thing” and “That Lady.” The brothers jointly owned the copyright, giving Ronald a one-third interest in the compositions. The group, a musical institution, had a series of hits from the late 1950s until the 1990s.
Debra Grassgreen of Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young and Jones, who represents Howard Ehrenberg, the trustee who will conduct the sale, said, “This is one of the classic R&B catalogs, and we believe it will have value for many years to come.”
EMI has put in an aggregate bid of $4.1 million to acquire Ronald Isley’s portion of the songwriter’s and publisher’s rights to the catalog. Under a 1980 agreement, EMI already owns a 50% interest in the publishing rights.
Isley is opposing the sale. He’s hoping the court will let him work out a deal with the Pullman Group, the inventor of the Bowie bonds, named after rocker David Bowie, under which music assets are pledged to secure bonds and the debt is repaid from the royalty stream. Isley’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment.
Also for sale will be Isley’s interest in songs he performed but didn’t write, such as the Holland-Dozier-Holland tune “This Old Heart of Mine,” which Isley recorded in the 1960s and remade in 1990 as a duet with Rod Stewart.
The estate also includes Isley’s 87 foot yacht and his interest in a $6 million judgment against Michael Bolton. Isley won a copyright infringement action against Bolton over the hit song “Love Is a Wonderful Thing.” That case is now on appeal in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.