‘Sorrow will come in the end’ was the title of a song written in 1997 by Morrissey, erstwhile frontman of The Smiths (pictured), following his High Court defeat in a royalty dispute with Mike Joyce, the band’s drummer. ‘You pleaded and squealed and you think you’ve won/But sorrow will come to you in the end,’ warns the mancunian miserabilist, in characteristically portentous fashion.
Perhaps the composition (excluded from the solo album upon which it was to appear) was cathartic. Morrissey’s ego suffered a bruising at the hands of Mr Justice Weeks, who dubbed him ‘devious, truculent and unreliable when his own interests were at stake’.
Worse, Smiths co-founder Johnny Marr was described by the judge as the most intelligent member of the band – it is, after all, Morrissey (not Marr) who has since had his autobiography accorded the rarefied status of Penguin Classic.
At 200 pages, this trim and accessible account of notable legal cases in the UK music and entertainment industries is worth reading solely because of the insights it gives into the litigants. Mr Justice Park was altogether kinder to the members of Spandau Ballet who, despite an inter-band dispute, remained ‘committed defenders and admirers of each other’s artistic qualities’. So much so, indeed, that although ‘Gold’ had been at stake, they reunited for a comeback tour.
Author Jeremy Grice is head of the music, theatre and entertainment management degree at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, where he teaches financial management and entertainment law. His pedagogic expertise is much in evidence, as he pulls off the tricky task of writing a book that will engage the general showbiz buff as well as the student of contract and IP law at which it is principally aimed.
In featuring relatively recent cases that actually reached court, Grice explains the background and analyses the findings, highlighting legal principles and discussing what can be learned. This includes more than just ‘pop groups’, to employ that now sepia-tinted term. Along with the Spice Girls and Take That, there is also alleged plagiarism and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and the ‘great scandal’ of secondary ticketing.
How to sum up? ‘Art for art’s sake, money for God’s Sake/gimme the readies/gimme the cash….’ sang art-rockers 10cc back in the 1970s. They knew their industry.
Author: Jeremy Grice
Paul Rogerson is Gazette editor-in-chief