Blind Grammy Winner Claims Manager Duped Him

José Feliciano - P 2013
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

José Feliciano - P 2013

José Feliciano, the singer and guitarist best known for "Feliz Navidad," has filed a scandalous lawsuit against Roy Sciacca, his former manager.

Feliciano has been in the record business for five decades and besides his virtuoso guitar playing, he's also become an icon for being a successful blind musician. But in a complaint filed in a Florida county court on June 14, he alleges that Sciacca took advantage of his visual impairment and holds nothing back.

"Roy Sciacca describes himself as a 'God' and 'mogul' in the music business with 'top' industry credentials," says the lawsuit. "However history indicates that he is actually a repeatedly failed entertainment entrepreneur, judgment debtor, and a fraud as set forth herein, to the extent that perhaps only a blind man could have missed the signs."

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That's just the opening.

Feliciano says that he was contacted in June, 2012, by Sciacca and told why he should switch management firms.

The lawsuit (read here in full) says that Sciacca made various representations about his success in the industry for artists such as Alan Jackson, Alice Cooper, Chicago, Don Henley, Janet Jackson, Kiss and Ricky Martin. (A website on Sciacca appears to make similar claims.)

Feliciano says that among the things that induced him to sign up with the guy was word of a potential 18-month worldwide tour, a booking on the New Years' Rockin' Eve Special, an annual Christmas special featuring a star studded cast to be possibly featured on Telemundo or Univision, performance at the Billboard Awards, entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inclusion onto Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists Edition" and more.

It was so enticing that Feliciano says he began discussing terms of the management agreement. But the musician adds that he didn't find the first proposal acceptable insofar as he wanted the relationship to work the way it had with his prior manager: First, the ability to terminate at will. Second, that the manager would only be entitled to to a commission on income negotiated and received during the term of the agreement.

Sciacca allegedly responded that he would make the changes, but didn't.

"Unfortunately," says the lawsuit, "Feliciano is blind, did not have the ability to read the Agreement, no one read him the Agreement and he was not otherwise informed of the specific language of the final revision of the Agreement."

The deal was signed. Meanwhile, after terminating his prior manager, Feliciano got into a dispute over commissions owed to his former rep, resulting in a situation where "cash flow properly due to Feliciano cased or slowed, making Feliciano's immediate cash position difficult."

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Feliciano won two Grammy Awards (Best New Artist, Best Pop Song) in 1969 and has eight altogether throughout his career. Fourteen of his songs have charted on the Billboard Hot 100. He's being represented by attorney John Bradley in a lawsuit that demands rescinding the management agreement and further relief.

According to the lawsuit, Sciacca's claims about being big in the music industry were false representations and the defendant has been in court multiple times with other parties. Sciacca hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.

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