Johnny Hallyday sues Universal for EUR 50m

25th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 24 (AFP) - France's most enduring rock icon, Johnny Hallyday, on Thursday went to court to sue his record label, Universal, for allegedly keeping him chained to his contract through loans that have underpinned his star lifestyle over the past four decades.

PARIS, June 24 (AFP) - France's most enduring rock icon, Johnny Hallyday, on Thursday went to court to sue his record label, Universal, for allegedly keeping him chained to his contract through loans that have underpinned his star lifestyle over the past four decades.

Hallyday - real name Jean-Philippe Smet - asked an employment tribunal to nullify his contract with the company and to award him EUR 50 million in damages and interest.

The 61-year-old singer, who has built a very long career fashioning himself as a sort of French Elvis Presley in leather, took time off the set of a film he is in to present his case.

"Record labels have to stop seeing artists as cash cows. If there weren't any artists, there wouldn't be any music companies," he said.

At the end of the four-hour session, the head of the tribunal said he would deliver a verdict on August 2.

Hallyday's lawyer, Jacques Verrechia, argued that Universal underpaid his client ever since he signed up with them in 1961, and had sought to keep control of the singer by essentially becoming his "banker".

"Universal constantly tried to make sure the artist would have to come to it to cover his debts and loans," he said.

Verrechia said the company had, since 1978, loaned Hallyday more than EUR 16 million, including EUR 5 million to buy a yacht.

"All that had nothing to with Universal's business. Is this justifiable?" he asked.

He also said Universal had no right to drop the proportion paid in royalties on Hallyday's oldest songs from 17 percent to seven percent, and demanded the company hand over the singer's master tracks.

Universal's lawyer, Nicolas Boespflug, said there was no evidence that the company sought to tie down Hallyday and that the singer owed much of his fame and fortune to the label.

"If Universal hadn't been at his side, Johnny Hallyday would not be where he is today," he said.

"For 25 years, Universal has been Johnny Hallyday's saviour," he said.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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