Funk legend Sly Stone was awarded $5 million on Tuesday in a breach-of-contract suit that claimed his business partners and his own company cheated him out of royalties.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled for the 71-year-old performer in his action against his ex-manager Gerald Goldstein, attorney Glenn Stone and Even St. Productions Ltd.
“It’s a good day for Sly. It’s a good day for entertainers in general,” said one of his attorneys, Nicholas Hornberger. “This was an important verdict for people that are artists, entertainers, music composers, etc.”
Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, led the group Sly and the Family Stone to a string of hits in the 1960s and early ’70s, including “Everyday People,” ”Dance To The Music” and “Family Affair.” But heavy drug use began to take a toll.
His lawyers said Stone’s career was long eclipsed, and he was destitute when Goldstein and Glenn Stone convinced him to become an employee and co-owner of Even St. Productions with them in 1989.
Stone assigned royalty rights to the company and was supposed to receive some of the money it collected for him, but Goldstein and Glenn Stone arranged to get it through shady accounting, Hornberger argued.
“They met him, they signed him up … but what they really wanted was his royalties,” Hornberger said.
Gregory Bodell, the attorney for Goldstein and Glenn Stone, said the performer approached his clients to revitalize his career and promised to make comeback records that he never recorded.
His clients weren’t seeking the performer’s royalties because he didn’t have any, in part because he owed millions to the Internal Revenue Service, Bodell said.
Sly Stone testified that he had not received any royalty payments between 1989 and 2000.
But Bodell said his clients helped to pay off the IRS, renegotiated royalty issues with record companies and over 20 years obtained millions of dollars in royalties for the performer — perhaps as much as $9 million.
Jurors assessed $2.5 million in damages against Even St. Productions, $2.45 million against Goldstein and $50,000 against Glenn Stone.
Bodell said the award will be challenged.
Even St. Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2013. A message left for a lawyer representing the company was not immediately returned.