A November court ruling over the authorship of a classic Everly Brothers song may provide incentive for songwriters -- and publishers -- to tidy up ownership records that could significantly affect their wallets and those of their heirs.
A judge ruled in Nashville that Don Everly is the sole author of "Cathy's Clown," barring the estate of the late Phil Everly from claiming a stake in the composition. The song was a No. 1 pop title for the duo, which is enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. It also became a No. 1 country single for Reba McEntire in 1989, winning BMI's Robert J. Burton Award as country's most-performed song in 1990.
The brothers were credited as co-writers when the copyright was originally filed in 1960, but Phil relinquished "all of his rights, titles, interests and claim[s]" to "Cathy's Clown," according to an agreement he signed in June 1980. Subsequently, Phil's name was removed from public credits and from royalty statements by Acuff/Rose, which owned publishing on the copyright, and BMI.