Contract and Expel

Famous parting shots from artists formerly "under exclusive arrangement" with their labels

1985 The entire early Eighties output of Neil Young is received as a personal affront by his new record label, Geffen. When ol' Neil treats his audience to a Devo-esque electronic album with automated vocals, a rockabilly album with songs about dancing with Nancy and Ron Reagan in the White House, and a bluegrass album accompanied by some old geezers called the International Harvesters, Geffen launches a $3 million lawsuit against Young for not sounding enough like Neil Young! Making "unrepresentative music" is how Geffen puts it, and a baffled Neil Young must work up a passable Rich Little impersonation of himself for his two remaining Geffen offerings. Probably should've just called J Mascis!

1986 After eight years of waiting for Tom Scholz to get around to making a third Boston album, Epic Records takes offense and starts withholding Scholz's royalties on the first two. Scholz's countercomplaint is that Epic rushed him into making Boston's second album, Don't Look Back, a mere two years after the band's multiplatinum debut. Sometimes, tedium can't be rushed!

1987 Desperate to get off Fantasy Records, John Fogerty gives the label all his Creedence Clearwater Revival publishing in 1973. By the time he releases his Centerfield album some 13 years later, he's still seething. The album concludes with "Zanz Kant Danz," a bitter paean to Fantasy prez Saul Zaentz. Offended by the song's suggestion that he can't cut a rug, and by the accompanying Claymation video that depicts him as a dancing, slobbering pig who steals everyone's money, Zaentz sues the panz off Fogerty. Not long after Fogerty is forced to rename the track "Vanz Kant Danz," Zaentz cites that the riff from Fogerty's latest hit "The Old Man Down the Road" sounds suspiciously like CCR's 1970 Fantasy hit "Run Through the Jungle"--and sets a legal precedent by suing John Fogerty for plagiarizing himself!

1993 George Michael refuses to be an indentured servant to CBS/Sony Records. After the label underpromotes his Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, George Michael relegates his vocal duties exclusively to his answering machine, which informs callers "I'm never gonna SING again" to the tune of "Careless Whisper.

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