The estate of Sky Saxon has been pushed too hard one time too many and filed suit against the record and publishing company that paid about $1,000 for the rights to Saxon’s songs 37 years ago.
A motion to determine the issue of “unconscionability” will be heard on March 8 in Los Angeles Superior Court in the issue of Saxon vs. GNP and its sister company, Neil Music. The estate is requesting a rescission of Saxon’s record and publishing deals, and for royalties for the past four years.
Saxon, leader of the Seeds and composer of “Pushin’ Too Hard,” “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” and “Mr. Farmer,” has not been paid any royalties since 1973. Saxon, who died in June 2009, and his widow have requested that GNP Crescendo Record Co., with which he signed in 1965, void the copyright sales.GNP and Neil Music maintain that Saxon signed away his royalties when he accepted a $500 payment for “Pushin’ Too Hard” in late 1972 and did not pay back loans of $250 and $350 made in 1973.
The companies, run by Neil Norman, son of founder Gene Norman, have taken the position that the three deals are “buy-outs” of any and all royalties forever. The estate has asked the court to set aside the three transactions on the grounds that they are so oppressive and unfair that they should be voided for being “unconscionable.”
The estate has also asked that that the original 1960s deals be rescinded as well, and that all musical properties revert back to the estate.
GNP and Neil Music have exploited Saxon’s songs and recordings over the last 20 years. Axe Body Spray used “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” in a recent commercial while “Secetary” licensed the track; “Pushin’ Too Hard” has been used in films such as “Her Minor Thing,” “Wild America” and “976-Evil II”; “No Escape” was used in “Taking Woodstock.”
The estate of Saxon is represented by Evan Cohen, and S. Martin Keleti and Sommer Issaq of Cohen and Cohen.