Modern Lawsuit

Jonathan Richman and members of Modern Lovers have filed suit against Sanctuary Records Group , Bomp Records and producer Kim Fowley in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming the musicians haven’t been paid royalties in more than 30 years on classic recordings including “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso.”

In a complaint filed January 14th, Richman and original bandmates Jerry Harrison, David Robinson and Ernie Brooks charge unjust enrichment, breach of contract, failure to account and failure to pay royalties.

The suit seeks repayment of royalties over the last four years from those and 83 other recordings, the return of Modern Lovers master recordings to the band members, and the return of Richman’s solo masters to him.

Some of the masters, produced by John Cale, Alan Mason and Robert Appere, date back to 1972. The band members said they signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records the following year, but the label chose not to release the master recordings.

Two years later, Warner Bros. assigned the masters to Beserkley Records, including an agreement to make royalty payments for its release of the Modern Lovers masters in 1976. The suit charges that royalty payments have never been made.

Ownership of the masters has changed hands at least twice since 1978, and they are now held by Sanctuary, according to the suit.

A spokesman for Sanctuary Group was unavailable at press time.