5 Legendary Feuds Between Artists and Record Labels
8:00 AM PST 2/8/2013 by THR Staff
Prince changed his name, Neil Young sued for millions — and that's just the beginning.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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Prince vs. Warner Bros.
In 1993, matters between Prince and his label nearly came to legal blows, as he changed his name to a glyph in an attempt to escape his contract. The engagement continued tumultuously until he finally fulfilled his release obligations with 1996's Chaos and Disorder. Winner: Draw
Neil Young vs. Geffen
After the failure of Young's Everybody's Rockin' in 1983, David Geffen sued Young for $3.3 million, saying that the album and its predecessor were not "commercial." The rocker countersued for $21 million, Geffen apologized, both suits were dropped. And in 1988, Young returned to Geffen's label. Winner: Neil Young
Dr. Dre vs. Death Row Records
A founder of Death Row Records, Dr. Dre left the label in 1996, concerned with its direction. Years later, following his bankruptcy, Dre successfully sued the label in 2011 for a failure to pay royalties on his work there, including his influential debut solo album, The Chronic. Winner: Dre
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Nas vs. Def Jam
In an email with the subject "PUT MY SHIT OUT!" Nas scorned Def Jam in 2010 for not releasing the follow-up to his 2002 compilation The Lost Tapes. "Nas is NOBODY's slave," he wrote. "Stop being your own worst enemy. Let's get money!" While Lost Tapes Vol. 2 hasn't been released, Nas' Life Is Good, his last album for the label, bowed last year. Winner: Def Jam
George Michael vs. Epic
Michael accused his label of failing to vigorously promote his second solo release. He wanted out of his contract and brought a class-action suit that tried to shake the industry's foundation of multirecord deals. Michael called his situation "professional slavery," but a judge in 1994 decided otherwise. Winner: Epic
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