So we have nothing but respect for the family and former manager of Ray Charles, who managed to remain peaceful and amicable until he was long-dead, completely cold and probably quite rotten, and then they started having bitter, distasteful fights about his possessions.
Ray Charles’ 12 children have accused manager Joe Adams of tarnishing their father’s memory by releasing two Ray Charles albums posthumously that Ray would have never approved. We’re not so sure about that – Ray Charles Sings The Hits Of Emma Bunton and Ray Charles Mumbles To Himself About His Slippers have always been long-time favourites of ours.
When Ray Charles died, he went out with a bang. Not literally, of course – people didn’t drag Ray Charles onto a beach, stuff him full of dynamite and explode him like a whale or anything – but he made sure he went out at the height of his powers.
The last album Ray Charles made, Genius Loves Company, won eight Grammys and the film about his life that was made as he was dying, Ray, won two Oscars. So between that – and the money that Ray Charles accumulated in the 53 years since his first recording, you’d think that everyone would be happy with their inheritance.
Not a chance. The 12 children that Ray Charles fathered by nine women have all got the hump with Ray Charles’ manager Joe Adams. And that’s either because Joe Adams has systematically mismanaged Ray Charles’ estate since his death in 2004 or because they’re pissed off that Ray didn’t leave them a bunch more money in his will and they’re lashing out. Who knows? Either way, as The Associated Press reports, now the FBI is getting involved and all sorts:
Ray Charles’ children are accusing his longtime manager of mismanaging his estate and trusts and tarnishing his legacy by releasing two posthumous CDs the late singer never would have approved, according to a published report. In allegations outlined Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, several of Charles’ 12 children accused Joe Adams of holding too much power over Ray Charles Enterprises and the Ray Charles Foundation and excluding them from business dealings. They’re seeking a formal investigation and audit looking into their father’s estate, trusts and foundation for possible wrongdoing.
According to these allegations, Ray Charles’ kids all received $500,000 each in his will, along with a woolly-worded hint about possibly getting more “down the line.” Meanwhile Joe Adams – who’d been Ray Charles’ manager since 1961 – didn’t receive anything in the will, but he stayed in charge of all the business rights.
What this scrap boils down to, essentially, is the Ray Charles’ image rights. No mention of it was made in the will and the children are trying to gain control over it. Should they win, this row will disappear instantly and everything will go back to normal.
OK, that’s a lie – what we expect will actually happen is there’ll be a bunch of new lawsuits between the various children about how Ray Charles’ image gets used. For instance, one of them will probably want to remaster his back catalogue for iTunes, another will want to make a Ray Charles museum complete with lucrative giftshop, another will want to make a Hammer Man-style Saturday morning cartoon about Ray Charles’ adventures fighting crime and another will want to sell out old Ray Charles songs for the remix album Ray Charles Says: Poop Poop! All Aboard The Vengaboys Express!
All of which we’d be OK with, incidentally. Except the museum one. Ugh.