NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Two of the seven children surviving Country Music legend George Jones have filed a lawsuit in Middle Tennessee seeking to clarify their stake in the late singer's music catalog.
Bryan and Jeffery Jones are the adult sons of George Jones from a former marriage to Shirley Ann Corley. According to the lawsuit, Jones and Corley were married in 1954 but divorced in 1968. Part of the divorce settlement included Corley receiving one-half of the song writer's rights to all songs written by Jones and published by Broadcast Music International (BMI).
Following her death in 1991, Corley's rights to those songs were passed to her sons Bryan and Jeffery. However, attorney Ramona DeSalvo says the boys were never fully accounted to. “There appears have been some monkey business going on in the past with copyright interest and accountings for the compositions,” DeSalvo -who represents the brothers in this case, says. DeSalvo says part of the issue is some of the original publishing companies were purchased and have possibly been paying wrong.
"We're seeking to clarify which copyrights they own," DeSalvo says. "We're also asking the court to declare rights of the parties instead of fighting over every penny."
In addition to the clarity on copyright, the suit also states Bryan and Jeffery have a stake in eight master recordings which they just learned of this year. According to the lawsuit, in May, the brothers learned of master recordings believed to have been recorded in 1966 in Sumner County while their mother and Jones were still married.
These 8 masters are currently in a safety deposit box in either Benton or Carroll County and include recordings of "Jonesy," "I'm Ragged but Right," "Open Pit Mind," "I Can't Change Overnight," "Wrong Number," and "Ship of Love."
In addition, one of the masters titled George Jones Sings Hank Williams is believed to be among the recordings. These master recordings, according to the lawsuit, are claimed to be owned by two men who formed a company called World-Wide Records, both of whom were arrested in 1984 on federal drug charges involving the attempted purchase, possession, and distribution of over 40,000 pounds of marijuana. The masters had been pledged as security for their bonds pending appeal, and had been held by the Clerk of Courts for the Eastern District of Louisiana for some 33 years before being transferred to Benton County.
The suit claims the brothers have the right to receive a pro-rated share of royalties and fees from the commercial use of the masters.
See the full lawsuit below or CLICK HERE: