A new fight is brewing over Prince, his estate and music you haven't heard before.
Prince's estate is suing a California sound engineer who is offering a multi-song selection of unreleased music from the late pop icon. A court hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon.
George Boxill worked at Paisley Park as Prince was recording music there. A lawsuit filed Friday in Chaska and now in federal court says that Boxill unlawfully removed Prince recordings from Paisley Park and is now planning to release the music for his own gain.
The suit also seeks to block release of the music, on an EP called "Deliverance." The title track is already available on iTunes.
The estate asked Boxill for all the Prince material in his possession, and the suit says he declined. The music is being released via a Vancouver, Wash.-based music label called the Rogue Music Alliance.
The Prince Estate released a statement to Rolling Stone regarding the unauthorized release. It reads:
"The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is aware that Mr. George Ian Boxill, in conjunction with Rogue Music Alliance, has issued a press release announcing an intent to distribute previously unreleased Prince master recordings and musical compositions," the estate said, adding that the release was "not authorized."
"During his unparalleled career, Prince worked with many sound engineers, including Mr. Boxill," the statement continued. "Like the other engineers that had the opportunity to work with Prince, Mr. Boxill signed an agreement, under which he agreed (1) all recordings that he worked on with Prince would remain Prince’s sole and exclusive property; (2) he would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever; and (3) he would return any such recordings or property to Prince immediately upon request. Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement. Instead, Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the Estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law."
According to The Current, the music sister station of MPR News:
The music that Boxill plans to release includes "Deliverance," "Man Opera" (a four-movement medley comprising "I Am," "Touch Me," "Sunrise Sunset," and "No One Else"), and an extended version of "I Am."
The title track has earned praise from publications like Variety, which calls the song "a bluesy slow-burner with some blazing guitar work, gospelesque backing singers and a soaring falsetto vocal from Prince."
The likelihood of a judge intervening to block the material's scheduled release is unclear. Beyond the principle, the financial stakes are high: the estate's lawsuit claims the tracks are together worth over $75,000.
A press release says Boxill believes an independent release of his music would have pleased Prince, and that the sales will benefit Prince's estate.
Boxill, from California, couldn't be reached for comment about the suit.