The Jimi Hendrix estate, Martin Scorsese and an old saxophone player named Lonnie Youngblood are among those battling over a 40-year-old song entitled “Georgia Blues” that was recently featured on a Scorsese-directed PBS special on blues music and distributed via an accompanying album.
In the mid-1960s, Hendrix, working as Jimmy James, played in Youngblood’s band. Later the guitar virtuoso struck out on his own, but he reunited in 1969 with Youngblood in a New York studio to record “Georgia Blues.”
The tune was mostly forgotten until Scorsese’s 2003 PBS special, “The Blues,” which spawned a few albums including “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix,” which included the song. It’s now the subject of heated litigation.
Earlier this year, Youngblood sued the estate, MCA Records and Scorsese, claiming the song was released without his permission and without proper credit. Youngblood said the Hendrix estate offered him $3,000 for rights, which he refused.
On Tuesday (Oct. 12), the Hendrix estate struck back with counterclaims, asking a judge to declare it the owner of the song and Youngblood’s belated copyright registration as invalid.
According to papers filed in New Jersey District Court, Hendrix produced and recorded the song at his own cost. The estate says the two-day session at the Record Plant Studio in New York produced several Hendrix tracks, including “Georgia Blues,” which have remained in the physical possession of the estate since that time.
The estate now wants Youngblood to account for all of his royalties on “Georgia Blues.”