‘Busta Kontract’ Engel Dies

Donald S. Engel, an attorney best known for helping stars including Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer, and the Dixie Chicks take back control of their careers from record company contracts, died Jan. 15 in Redwood City, Calif.

He was 84 and died of complications of leukemia.

Photo: Owen Sweeney / OwenSweeneyPhoto.com
American Music Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.

A litigation expert specializing in contract disputes, he earned the nickname of “Busta Kontract” for his work in extricating clients from deals with labels he believed habitually and unethically underpaid artists, according to the New York Times.

Most notably, in a suit filed by Newton-John and subsequent countersuit from MCA, an appeals court undermined the labels’ ability to control artists for up to seven years regardless of contract length.