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Elton John Sues Manager For Rights To Songs

June 4, 1985

LONDON (AP) _ Rock star Elton John went to court Tuesday demanding that his former manager give him the profits and rights to all the songs he made between 1967 and 1975.

Named in the suit are John’s ex-manager, Dick James, and Dick James Music Ltd.

John is asking the High Court to set aside three agreements under which he signed over to James the rights to 169 songs including ″Rocket Man,″ ″Crocodile Rock,″ ″Daniel,″ ″Goodbye Yellow Brick Road″ and ″Candle in the Wind.″

According to court papers, James denies the allegations and says he had nothing to do with the agreements in a personal capacity.

The singer’s lawyer, Mark Littman, told the court that John and his songwriter friend Bernie Taupin signed the first of the agreements in 1967 after being caught making unauthorized use of James’ recording studio to record their own demonstration tapes. Littman claimed James took unfair advantage of the two men because of their youth and inexperience.

John and Taupin, who were working for James at the time as writers of music and lyrics, were ″petrified″ when James summoned them to his office, Littman said.

″But while they were waiting in reception quaking in their shoes, a studio sound engineer told Dick James that he was impressed with what he had heard and that James ought to sign them up,″ the lawyer said.

James gave them 100 pounds (then $280) as an advance on royalties, and the two were so elated they did not read the agreement and would have signed anything, Littman told the court.

John, who was then Reginald Dwight, was 20 and Taupin 17. Littman said that because they were under 21, they had to get their parents to sign the agreements also.

John is now 38 and Taupin 34. Their suit claims the agreements were obtained by ″undue influence″ and were an ″unreasonable restraint on trade.″

They want the copyrights and master recordings turned over to them and a settlement made for the profits they say should have been theirs.

John’s lawyer said the retail value of records and tapes made of the songs amounted to more than 200 million pounds ($260 million).

The full amounts of James’ profits and of John’s and Taupin’s royalties have not been disclosed.

British lawsuits do not specify the amount of money being sought.

The hearing continues Wednesday and is expected to last six weeks.

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