Jacko Didn’t Sing Sheik’s Tune

An Arab sheik is suing Michael Jackson for $7 million, claiming the former pop king reneged on a contract that included songs the sheik composed, London’s High Court heard Nov. 17.

Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa – the second son of the King of Bahrain – is suing Jackson for the return of the money. He claims he loaned it to the singer to help get him back on his feet after his criminal trial for child molestation charges in 2005.

The sheik also said he set up Jackson with a recording studio at his Neverland ranch and sent him his own compositions, one of which was recorded as a charity record. Jackson was also to record an album, write an autobiography and produce a musical stage play.

Jackson, who isn’t in London for the case and will apply to give evidence via a video link from Los Angeles, contends the sheik’s payments were gifts and there’s no valid agreement between them.

Bankim Thanki QC, representing Al Khalifa, said Al Khalifa had plans to revive Jackson’s career, releasing records through a label he and Jackson owned. The singer claims the contract was agreed to on the basis of “false representations” that the recording company was capable of releasing and distributing records worldwide.

The court also heard that Al Khalifa, in addition to providing the Neverland studio, paid Jackson $35,000 (£23,300) to cover bills at the ranch and advanced $1 million at the request of one of the singer’s aides.

“Sheikh Abdulla began to support Mr. Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr. Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdulla’s surprise,” Thanki said.

He said there have been further payments, including covering Jackson’s $2.2 million legal bill after his criminal trial.

Al Khalifa says he and Jackson entered into a $7 million “combined rights agreement,” under which the singer would release songs through their jointly owned record label, 2 Seas Group.

The sheik is said to have paid a further $2.2 million for Jackson to record “I Have This Dream” at a London studio.

Justice Sweeney was shown a DVD of Jackson singing a couple of lines of the song before he told the court “that’s plenty loud enough, thank you.”

Al Khalifa claims he and Jackson agreed the star’s vocals were not good enough but the singer failed to re-record them and the song still hasn’t been completed.

It’s also alleged that the sheik paid for a recording studio to be built in Bahrain for the pair to make music together, and he footed the bill for Jackson’s living, travel and ancillary expenses during his stay in Bahrain from the end of his criminal trial until he left the country in May 2006.

The sheik is seeking repayment of the advance and damages for breach of contract, plus interest. The case continued Nov. 18 and is expected to last two weeks.