Who Is Drumming Up KISS Royalty Dispute?

Kiss Gene Simmons live P
Al Soluri

A developing royalty dispute concerning the rock band KISS has become a tad strange.

On Monday, The Kiss Company, Gene Simmons Worldwide and Universal-Polygram were taken to New York Supreme Court by the claimed estate of Eric Carr, the KISS drummer who died in 1991. The action was reported in the media as a lawsuit, although technically what was filed was a petition for pre-action disclosure. In advance of a legal claim, the estate was seeking discovery. The filing regarded alleged missing royalty payments from representatives of Kiss and UMPG and the copyright re-registration of the composition "Little Caesar" without Carr's name.

Then on Wednesday, KISS' official website published a "statement from Eric Carr family," which quoted attorney Mark Abbattista, said to represent the Carr family.

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"It came to our attention through a variety of different media outlets that a legal proceeding was filed against the band KISS purporting to be on behalf of the ‘The Estate of Eric Carr’ and the ‘late KISS drummer’s heirs,’" said Abbattista. "This proceeding was filed by a non-related third party without any knowledge, authorization or consent of anyone in the Carr family.”

Abbatista added that a cease and desist was sent out to stop further actions from the claimed Carr estate.

We spoke to Robert Garson, the attorney representing the petitioner. He calls the demand "complete rubbish" and maintains he was "validly instructed by executors of the estate." He adds that "this chap" Abbattista "represents Eric Carr's sister, Loretta Caravello," but that she's not in control.

Abbattista, the same entertainment lawyer who was featured in the 21st season of CBS' reality show The Amazing Race, declined to say anything more than the statement already given.

Although it's nearly impossible to verify the legitimacy of the petition filed in New York court, the petition does include fairly detailed notes about contract agreements and communications with Kiss parties. In addition, the petitioner has lodged exhibits including a pay statement, portions of the songwriter agreement, and emails from Universal Music Publishing Group and a Kiss representative.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner