On Tuesday night, media lit up with the news that a six-track EP of previously unreleased Prince material would be released on Friday, the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death. It immediately became apparent, though, that the release was not authorized by Prince’s estate. In fact, KSTP reports the estate is joining with Paisley Park Enterprises to sue George Ian Boxill, a sound engineer who holds the tracks and claims he has the rights to release them.
By the time the press release went out from the aptly-named Rogue Music Alliance, an EP called Deliverance had been made available for preorder at major online retailers, and a title track was streaming via iTunes and Apple Music — with a physical release promised for June 2. The press release included a link to princerogersnelson.com, which is not the artist’s official website and contains no content beyond information about the EP.
According to the press release, “Prince, and Ian Boxill (2Pac, Gladys Knight, Janet Jackson, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, multiple award winning Prince albums), co-wrote and co-produced all of the tracks beginning in 2006. After Prince’s untimely passing, Boxill continued their work by spending the past year completing the compositions and arrangements, finishing the production and mixing the songs.”
The lawsuit against Boxill — filed first in Carver County, and then in federal court, according to KSTP — holds that at the time Boxill worked with Prince, Boxill signed nondisclosure agreements binding him to secrecy and giving Prince exclusive ownership over all recordings from the Paisley Park sessions.
The music that Boxill plans to release includes “Deliverance,” “Man Opera” (a four-movement medley comprising “I Am,” “Touch Me,” “Sunrise Sunset,” and “No One Else”), and an extended version of “I Am.” The title track has earned praise from publications like Variety, which calls the song “a bluesy slow-burner with some blazing guitar work, gospelesque backing singers and a soaring falsetto vocal from Prince.”
The likelihood of a judge intervening to block the material’s scheduled release is unclear. Beyond the principle, the financial stakes are high: the estate’s lawsuit claims the tracks are together worth over $75,000. MPR News reports the lawsuit has been assigned to a federal judge in St. Paul.
Prince "Deliverance" lawsuit headed for federal hearing at 4PM today, probably in St. Paul, Courtroom 3B.
— Tim Nelson (@timnelson_mpr) April 19, 2017