According to court documents obtained by Minnesota news outlet KTSP, the lawsuit claims longtime Prince engineer George Ian Boxill possesses five unpublished Prince tracks recorded in 2006, including “Deliverance,” and that he is “now trying to exploit one or more songs for his personal gain at the expense of the Prince estate.”
The suit, which was initially filed in a district court Friday but re-filed in federal court on Tuesday, claims the recordings are worth more than $75,000 and that Boxill had violated an agreement with Prince that stated all recordings he worked on with the artist would remain Prince’s “sole and exclusive” property and that Boxill would not use them “in any way whatsoever.” The suit also says that Boxill has refused to return the recordings.
A rep for Prince’s estate confirmed the lawsuit to Variety and released the following statement:
The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is aware that Mr. George Ian Boxill, in conjunction with Rogue Music Alliance, has issued a press release announcing an intent to distribute previously unreleased Prince master recordings and musical compositions. The Estate has not authorized any such release and is not affiliated with either Mr. Boxill or Rogue Music Alliance. During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill. Like the other engineers that had the opportunity to work with Prince, Mr. Boxill signed an agreement, under which he agreed (1) all recordings that he worked on with Prince would remain Prince’s sole and exclusive property; (2) he would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever; and (3) he would return any such recordings or property to Prince immediately upon request. Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement. Instead, Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the Estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law. The Estate is taking immediate legal actions to prevent Mr. Boxill’s continuing violations of his agreement and the rights of the Estate and its partners in Prince’s recordings. Any dissemination of the recordings and underlying music compositions, or fixation of the same in any audiovisual work or otherwise, is unauthorized and in violation of the Estate’s rights to the master recordings and musical compositions.
Through a representative, Boxill declined Variety’s request for comment on Tuesday.
The “Deliverance” EP, which contains three previously unreleased songs dating from 2006-2008, is slated for release on an independent, apparently Christian label called the Rogue Music Alliance based in Vancouver, Washington. A substantial marketing plan is apparently in place, as the firm has hired a top PR firm and says it has deals in place with iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Walmart, Target and others.
Prince, who died of an accidental overdose on April 21, 2016, left his business affairs in considerable disorder. While advisers to his estate struck deals for publishing, merchandising and performing rights, a recorded-music pact they made with Universal Music Group appears to violate a contract with Warner Music Group, which was Prince’s label for the first 19 years of his career. Sources tell Variety that Universal is seeking to nullify that deal.
While Prince left hundreds if not thousands of unreleased recordings in his much-vaunted “Vault” — which is a central part of the recorded-music deals — just one song has emerged thus far: the 1982 song “Moonbeam Levels.” A full album of previously unreleased material is scheduled for release as part of the “Purple Rain” deluxe reissue on June 9.
Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.