Late bluesman’s lawsuit dismissed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

JACKSON (AP) — The son of the late Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough has agreed with a record company to dismiss a copyright lawsuit over songs performed by the father and son.

U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper closed the case Tuesday after both sides agreed that it should be dismissed, court records said. There was no indication in court documents if a financial settlement had been reached.

Junior Kimbrough was best known for songs like ‘‘Sad Days Lonely Nights’’ and ‘‘Meet Me In The City.’’ He died in 1998 at age 67 after gaining fame late in life.

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His son, Kinney Lee Malone, who also performed under the names Kinny Kimbrough and Kint Kimbrough, played the drums with Kimbrough’s band, The Soul Blues Boys.

Malone sued in Marshall County Circuit Court in 2008, claiming Oxford. Miss.-based Fat Possum Records was using the songs without his permission. The lawsuit, which ended up in federal court, sought at least $1 million and royalties.

Malone claimed Fat Possum used the music without his permission on at least two albums and a documentary and licensed it for use in several movies, including the 2005 film ‘‘Hustle & Flow,’’ starring Terrence Howard.

Fat Possum argued that its contract was with Kimbrough. The company said Malone was only a hired musician and not entitled to royalties.

Malone ‘‘woke up 13 years after his father died and suddenly realized that he had written all of the songs his father had been credited for … even the ones penned before his birth,’’ Fat Possum president Matthew Johnson said Wednesday in an e-mail.

The lawsuit, however, dealt with ‘‘sound recordings of the joint musical performances.’’

Johnson did not respond when asked if there was a settlement in the case.

Fat Possum attorney Jerome C. Hafter also declined to say whether a deal had been reached.

‘‘We’re glad the case is over,’’ he said.

Malone referred questions to his attorney, who did not immediately respond to messages.

‘‘I can’t say nothing about it because it’s confidential,’’ Malone told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

By the time Junior Kimbrough released his first album at age 62, he was no longer physically able to tour much, though he often played in Mississippi. His reputation grew and members of bands like the Rolling Stones and U2 came to Mississippi to hear him play, according to Fat Possum’s Web site.