Ne-Yo and Compound Touring Inc. filed a suit Monday (Dec. 31) against Rowe Entertainment Inc., the promoter of R. Kelly’s “Double-Up” Tour, for firing the singer after two shows as the opening act for Kelly. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges breach of contract and violation of the right of publicity.
The suit maintains Ne-Yo, born Shaffer Smith, was to be paid $785,000 for opening the 25-stop tour alongside singers Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday. The outing began Nov. 14, and Ne-Yo was fired prior to the third show on Nov. 19 and is still owed $735,000. Compound Touring and Smith are seeking unspecified damages.
“Plaintiffs allege that an unknown representative of R. Kelly urged Rowe to terminate Smith from the tour given the audience’s and critics’ more favorable reaction to Smith than the reaction to R. Kelly,” the suit states. Compound Touring spent “substantial monies in preparation for the tour and turned down other touring and performance opportunities for Smith in reliance on Rowe’s agreement that Smith would perform on the tour,” according to the suit.
As previously reported, Ne-Yo believes he was dropped from the tour because fans liked his set more than Kelly’s. “Let them [Jive] tell it, I was removed from the R. Kelly tour because of contractual agreements not being met, but that’s absolutely false,” he said during a BET.com interview a few weeks back. “I believe it was because the first few reviews of the show, people were talking more about my set than his and I don’t think he liked that too much.”
At the time, an R. Kelly spokesperson insisted to Billboard.com that Ne-Yo’s departure was contractual and not related to any animosity from Kelly. Neither Jive nor Def Jam were available for comment at deadline.