Funk icon Sly Stone awarded $6.7 million in lawsuit over royalties

Funk icon Sly Stone awarded $6.7 million in lawsuit over royalties

SAN FRANCISCO - Funk legend Sly Stone was awarded US$5 million (S$6.7 million) in a lawsuit on Tuesday against his former manager and lawyer over royalties he said he was cheated out of, his attorney said.

A Los Angeles jury found in favour of Stone, who led Sly and the Family Stone to hits like "Dance to the Music" and "Everyday People" in the 1960s and 70s, after two days of deliberation, attorney Nicholas Hornberger said.

Hornberger said Stone was persuaded in the late 1980s into signing an employment and shareholder agreement with Even St. Productions, a company run by his former manager Gerald Goldstein and attorney Glenn Stone, and that the two stole payments from him.

"These guys, in their minds, had concocted some reason that they thought they were entitled to everything," Hornberger said.

Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, testified that he had not received any royalty payments between 1989 and 2009, according to Hornberger.

The jury assessed damages of US$2.5 million against Even St., US$2.45 million against Goldstein and US$50,000 against Glenn Stone, Hornberger said.

Defence attorney Gregory Bodell challenged the US$5 million figure however, adding that further court proceedings would clarify the amount and ultimately overturn the verdict.

Bodell said Stone approached his clients with the promise of creating a new album in a bid to relaunch his music career. He said they were able to renegotiate Stone's royalty rights, helping clear millions in taxes the artist owed to the IRS.

Bodell added that Stone received as much as US$9 million from the company, despite failing to produce an album, and that he co-owned Even St. with Goldstein and Glenn Stone.

"We are very disappointed with the jury verdict. We believe the evidence does not support the number they came up with. We believe the jury got it completely wrong," Bodell said.

Stone's career was marred by decades of run-ins with the law. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, he was plagued by drug and gun possession charges.

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