Press Clippings

David Bowie's Space Oddity could be a costly one

Telegraph, April 18, 2005

London: The British rock star David Bowie is being sued for £5 million ($12.3 million) by the estate of Gus Dudgeon, a record producer who helped with his breakthrough single, Space Oddity, in 1969.

The song, reputedly based on NASA's Apollo8 mission, included the enduring line "Can you hear me, Major Tom?"

Dudgeon was renowned at the time for his innovative techniques and his work with the Rolling Stones. He produced a string of hits, among them As Tears Go By for Marianne Faithfull, It's Not Unusual for Tom Jones and 11 albums for Elton John.

When he was called in to help Bowie, Dudgeon was allegedly paid a £250 advance against a promise of a 2 per cent cut of the sales, it is claimed by David Morgan, a professional investigator of royalty payments.

Mr Morgan was helping Dudgeon in an approach to Bowie when the producer died in a car crash three years ago, aged 59. Dudgeon's wife, Sheila, also died. The couple, who had no children, left everything to charity.

Now, the Dudgeons' estate has assigned Mr Morgan to claim the money from Bowie to add to the charity funds. Bowie is resisting the claim.

"I was running the claim for him," Mr Morgan said on Friday, "and we had opened a dialogue with Bowie and his representatives in New York. We had rather a lot of evidence of the money that we claim was owed to him. Apart from the huge sales of Bowie albums, the single has been on almost every compilation of top hits.

"I was with Gus the day before he died, and he seemed disappointed. He wanted Bowie to sort it out, and instead we got a letter of rejection from his representatives ...

I gave him my word that I would not give up ...

"Bowie sent flowers to [Dudgeon's] funeral, with the message: 'Farewell to the Laughing Gnome'. Gus was the other man laughing on Bowie's recording of the song [of that name]."

Musical Youth

The Guardian, Friday March 21, 2003
(Excerpt, read the full article)

By the late 1990s, Musical Youth had passed into history. The sound of Pass the Dutchie became a sort of musical shorthand for a less manufactured era of pop. In 1998, Seaton's former manager David Morgan heard it on the soundtrack of 1980s-themed romantic comedy hit The Wedding Singer. "I rang Dennis and said, 'You must be earning a lot of money. He said no. The members of Musical Youth had not received any royalty accounting from their record label since 1986, which was diabolical. Just the use on The Wedding Singer earned about £20,000."

It took him two and a half years to sort through Musical Youth's business affairs."Where there's a hit, there's a writ," said Universal's spokesman, when Morgan launched a £2m claim for unpaid royalties, damages and interest on the money owed Musical Youth. "I sent something like 10,000 letters," he sighs. "They tried to wear me down by ignoring me." In December 2002, MCA/Universal settled out of court. Morgan cannot divulge exact figures but claims "it amounts to close on a seven-figure sum. In the end, the record company were embarrassed about it."

 

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