Jackson Family's Former Manager Sues Sony Music

Richard Arons says he isn’t being paid the 7.5 percent royalties from "Thriller" and other pre-1983 albums which he is owed.
Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

While the Jackson family’s trial against AEG continues, a former lawyer and manager for the Jacksons on Monday filed a new lawsuit demanding at least $10 million from Sony Music Entertainment for royalties from music created prior to 1983.

Richard Arons, who says he is 75 years old and dependent on these payments, is suing in L.A. Superior Court for breach of contract, improper accounting and more. He is asking the court to grant him lost royalties, costs and damages and the continuation of future payments.

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Arons says he became the Jackson family attorney in 1969 just as The Jackson Five were beginning their rise.

In 1972, Arons and Joe Jackson (father of the Jackson Five) became the personal managers for the Jacksons, with a deal to split 15 percent of the gross proceeds from what Michael Jackson and his brothers earned from all activities.

In 1978, Joe Jackson and Arons had a dispute. Under a 1981 settlement, Arons compensation was still 7.5 percent from the sale of recorded music, but he gave up some rights to money from other activities.

Around 1991, Arons got into another dispute -- with Michael Jackson this time -- over a time Michael stopped his payments. Under the settlement they reached, Arons stopped being the manager but his right to payments from the recordings made in 1983 and before was reaffirmed.

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CBS Records was sold in 1987 to Sony Corp. Arons suit claims that Sony did not pay him what he was owed. They eventually paid him some of it, but not all. He says he was owed 7.5 percent of income from albums including Thriller, Off The Wall, Victory and The Jacksons Live.

In March 2012, according to the suit, Andrew Ross of Sony Music agreed to review Arons claims, but even after that, the royalty statements were incorrect. Aarons complained and Ross said he would get back to him. The suit says he never did.

Now, Arons says he not only hasn’t been paid all he is owed, but Sony also refuses to give him a proper accounting of how much the recordings have earned and of his royalties. He wants his money and a full accounting.

There was no response to attempts to reach Sony Music Entertainment in New York for comment after business hours.