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  1. #1

    Paul William's heirs and royalties

    This article was in the Detroit News today regarding Paul William's heirs and the royalty payments they receive from Motown/Universal. Sad sad story and I did not know Paul had so many children: http://detnews.com/article/20110625/...lost-royalties

  2. #2
    Excellent article; thanks Sting.
    .Last Updated: June 25. 2011 11:27AM .Temptations heir sues sister over lost royalties
    Robert Snell/ The Detroit News
    Detroit— Kenneth Williams went to prison for strangling his great-aunt with a telephone cord in 1989, the same year his father was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Before entering prison, the younger Williams asked his sister to save his share of royalty checks he inherited from his dad, Paul Williams, one of the original members of the Temptations, the superstar Motown group known for the hits "My Girl," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone."

    "I figured I was well off," Kenneth Williams, 49, told The Detroit News.

    The Redford Township man was released from prison in July after serving more than 20 years and discovered the money — estimated at more than $200,000 — was gone. His sister, Paula Williams, spent it, according to a complaint he filed against her in federal court in Detroit.

    The accusation serves as another sad footnote to the legacy of Motown legend Paul Williams, the baritone singer who choreographed the group's stylish dance moves, and who died in 1973 under murky circumstances. And it is the latest in a long line of fights over one of the most consistently lucrative commodities to come out of Detroit in 51 years: Motown royalties.

    The accusations add a new layer of drama to one of the most successful, and tragic, acts in the Motown Records stable. It is a stable filled with stars whose success and tragedies — including premature deaths, murder, drug addiction and legal woes — have inspired Broadway musicals, TV movies and reams of tell-all books.

    Federal and Wayne County court records expose a fight within a family dogged by disaster in the decades after Paul Williams and four friends topped the charts.

    Thanks to all those hits, Williams' heirs split about $80,000 a year in Motown royalties based on sales of the group's music, Paul Williams' likeness and other rights. The royalties were paid out twice a year.

    Motown money fights, which are not unique to the Williams family, are somewhat ironic, said Peter Benjaminson, author of "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard."

    "When Motown started, there weren't any significant royalties for most people," he said. "The average rock star had one hit, then tried for another one, failed, and went to work at a factory.

    "One of the big surprises for Motown and everyone who worked for it is how long the songs have lasted and sold."

    It's hard for Paul Williams Jr., who was 7 years old when his father died, to say whether the royalties are a blessing or a curse.

    "Money, ugh," Paul Jr. said. "What money does to people, I don't understand."

    His sister Paula declined comment through her lawyer.

    Long battle
    The Williams family has been fighting for Motown royalties since Aug. 17, 1973, the day Paul Williams died at age 34 of what police said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had left the Temptations in 1971.

    He was coping with health and personal issues at the time and was estranged from his wife, Mary Agnes Williams. A divorce was pending.

    In 1987, 14 years after he died, the family reopened Paul Williams' estate to pursue royalties owed by Motown and determine his rightful heirs, a complicated task because Williams died without a will.

    Williams' family accused Motown of not paying any royalties after the singer died.

    The family claimed it was owed $195,000. But Motown said the family could not pursue royalties that were more than 6 years old.

    The family eventually settled in March 1988 for $96,520. That covered the years 1981 through June 1987.

    Next, Wayne County Probate Judge Joseph Pernick had to divide the royalty pie and determine shares and heirs.

    Williams had three daughters and two sons — Sarita, Paula and Mary and Kenneth and Paul Jr. — with wife Mary Agnes.

    Before he died, Paul Williams acknowledged fathering a sixth child, son Paul Williams Lucas.

    The royalty pie was about to be divided — when a seventh child surfaced, a son born in 1968 to one of Paul Williams' girlfriends.

    Derrick Vinyard, who was 5 when Paul Williams died, wanted a share of the Motown royalties.

    Paula Williams denied that Vinyard was an heir.

    The Motown star's brother, however, disagreed.

    Johnny Williams said his brother never denied being Vinyard's father, according to a 1988 deposition transcript filed in the probate case.

    Johnny Williams said he saw Paul and Vinyard's mother on dates at the Fox Theatre and the Twenty Grand nightclub. And there were rumors Paul Williams had fathered twins in Cleveland.

    "He's a breeder," Johnny Williams said of his brother during the deposition.

    The judge concluded Vinyard was an heir — and divided the late Motown star's past and future royalties.

    Paul Williams' widow would get one-third. The seven children would split the rest equally.

    In January 1989, the family agreed to have Paula parcel out the royalty checks to her four siblings and mother twice a year.

    The two half siblings receive their money directly from the record company.

    'Prison saved my life'
    Kenneth Williams didn't have long to enjoy the windfall.

    On July 18, 1989, he killed his 81-year-old great-aunt Mary Bryant inside her bungalow on Detroit's northwest side. She was shot in the head and strangled with a telephone cord, which a neighbor found wrapped three times around the woman's throat, according to a published report.

    Kenneth Williams was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.

    "I was out of my mind on crack cocaine," Williams said. "I was out of control. Prison basically saved my life."

    Young Kenneth had lived a charmed life before the death of his father.

    Kenneth spent nights on the road with his father and the group in Las Vegas, Miami and Atlanta.

    "Where the show went, I went," he said.

    Kenneth, nicknamed "Bossman" by his dad, spent afternoons learning from Temptations frontman Dennis Edwards how to make paper airplanes, which he threw out a window from an upper floor of Motown headquarters along Woodward.

    Kenneth was 11 when his father died. The outgoing youngster turned angry, rebellious and "was put out of every school in Detroit."

    "I was lost," he said. "I lost my best friend."

    At 19, he smoked his first joint.

    At 25, he tried cocaine.

    At 27, "that ---- took me to another place," he says.

    That's how old he was when he strangled his great-aunt. He turned 28 just before heading to prison.

    "I was trying to deal with why I was in prison and what made me go there," he said. "The money? I wasn't even thinking about it."

    He thought the cash was safe during the 7,536 days he spent in prison. He was released July 23, after serving more than 20 years.

    Money was gone
    He soon learned his cash was gone and confronted his sister, who admitted spending the money, he alleges in a court filing.

    "She thought he was never going to get out of prison," his lawyer Kenneth Burger wrote in a lawsuit.

    Paul Williams Jr., told The Detroit News he hasn't received his full share of royalties in years from Paula.

    "She's doing it to all of us," Paul Jr. of Sterling Heights said. "She did right by us for 10 years, but she's been slipping since then. It's greed."

    Kenneth, meanwhile, works 15-hour days at construction sites while his lawsuit against his sister and Motown successor Universal Music Group is pending in federal court. He alleges breach of contract, negligence, fraud and conspiracy, among other charges, and wants unspecified damages.

    It's a complicated fight because his sister filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Detroit in December.

    The bankruptcy filing provides rare insight into the value of Motown royalties because Paula had to list how much she received in recent years.

    She received $40,594 in 2008. A year later, the Motown royalties rose to $58,036, according to the filing.

    Kenneth Williams has asked Universal to send future payments directly to his house.

    He refuses to be bitter or angry despite the fight with his sister.

    "I'm still there for her if she needs me," Williams said. "But I don't trust people after what I've been through. We live in a wicked world."

    rsnell@detnews.com


    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110625/...#ixzz1Qi8HnL5B

  3. #3
    Wow, another sad footnote to the Temptations' history.

  4. #4
    What a Hot Mess
    Paul was an ICON and deserve so much more for his contributions~~~Pending divorce ? Kids coming out of the woodwork ? Motown not paying royalties ? sounds like the makings of a horror story. I am not familiar with all of Paul's kids but dang is there no justice ?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Wow, another sad footnote to the Temptations' history.
    About as sad as David Ruffin's granddaughter being shot in the back and killed in a drive by shooting on the East Side of Detroit a few years ago.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    About as sad as David Ruffin's granddaughter being shot in the back and killed in a drive by shooting on the East Side of Detroit a few years ago.
    Or Melvin Franklin's son being found shot to death, with drugs and explosives in the house, in 2000.

  7. #7
    Unbelievable is all I can say. It's unreal how such beautiful music can spawn such ugly consequences. It would interesting to learn more about the offspring of all these legendary singers. The only ones who are occasionally in the spotlight are Diana Ross's childeren and from all outwardly appearances they all appear fairly normal, educated (at least the three daughters), and well adjusted. But what about The Miracles childeren or the kids of the Four Tops or Marvelettes? It would make for a very interesting story of how their kids survived living in the Motown shadows of their parents.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by kalisa View Post
    Or Melvin Franklin's son being found shot to death, with drugs and explosives in the house, in 2000.

    See, you know what I'm saying.........

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    Unbelievable is all I can say. It's unreal how such beautiful music can spawn such ugly consequences. It would interesting to learn more about the offspring of all these legendary singers. The only ones who are occasionally in the spotlight are Diana Ross's childeren and from all outwardly appearances they all appear fairly normal, educated (at least the three daughters), and well adjusted. But what about The Miracles childeren or the kids of the Four Tops or Marvelettes? It would make for a very interesting story of how their kids survived living in the Motown shadows of their parents.
    Gladys Knight has her own sad story to tell.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    Unbelievable is all I can say. It's unreal how such beautiful music can spawn such ugly consequences. It would interesting to learn more about the offspring of all these legendary singers. The only ones who are occasionally in the spotlight are Diana Ross's childeren and from all outwardly appearances they all appear fairly normal, educated (at least the three daughters), and well adjusted. But what about The Miracles childeren or the kids of the Four Tops or Marvelettes? It would make for a very interesting story of how their kids survived living in the Motown shadows of their parents.
    Yes it would.

    I've never seen any indication that Ruffin's granddaughter's tragedy was anything but "wrong place/wrong time" (no fault of hers) but Kenneth Williams and David English Jr. are other stories.

    Levi Stubbs' daughter has been a participant on this forum and seems like a delightful lady. David Ruffin's son by Genna, David Jr., has been on the periphery of the music business for years. Paul Williams Jr. is currently singing with Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review, as far as I know. So it isn't all bad or ugly. I'd like to know the success stories also. As far as I've seen, Diana's family would fall into that category, regardless of what anyone may say or think about Diana.

  11. #11
    I dont blame anyone for these difficulties. It's hard for me to feel bad for a person who strangled his aunt though I am certainly sympathetic to those who suffer from addiction. I dont want anyone denied what is rightfully theirs but people also need to take responsibility for their own lives.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by kalisa View Post
    Yes it would.

    I've never seen any indication that Ruffin's granddaughter's tragedy was anything but "wrong place/wrong time" (no fault of hers) but Kenneth Williams and David English Jr. are other stories.

    Levi Stubbs' daughter has been a participant on this forum and seems like a delightful lady. David Ruffin's son by Genna, David Jr., has been on the periphery of the music business for years. Paul Williams Jr. is currently singing with Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review, as far as I know. So it isn't all bad or ugly. I'd like to know the success stories also. As far as I've seen, Diana's family would fall into that category, regardless of what anyone may say or think about Diana.
    Marvin's daughter Nona made an album in the early-mid 90's, but then disappeared. Does anyone know the backstory? What ever happened to Marvin's son? Or what about Dennis Edwards? And where the heck is Rockwell? lol. Or does anyone know anything about Smokey's children? I'm not really looking for dirt, I'm just curious to what life would have been like as the child of a larger than life singer.

  13. #13
    David Ruffin has a son that is doing well.

  14. #14
    WOW!!! This would make one hell of a reality show! I never knew how chaotic the lives of the Motown kids were!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Gladys Knight has her own sad story to tell.
    What is Gladys story?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    What is Gladys story?
    I believe her eldest son Jimmy died at the age of 36 in his sleep.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    What is Gladys story?
    Gladys' son Jimmy Newman died following a two day alcohol-induced cocaine binge. He died in his sleep on 7/10/1999 of a drug overdose in Las Vegas, NV.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Gladys' son Jimmy Newman died following a two day alcohol-induced cocaine binge. He died in his sleep on 7/10/1999 of a drug overdose in Las Vegas, NV.
    A lot has been written about the many child actors who never make it as mature or responsible adults, but little has been written about the number of offspring of famous parents who have struggled with depression, drugs and more. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Carol Burnett, Paul Newman, Angela Lansbury, Ryan O'Neal (more than one child), and amongst singers Gladys Knight, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin (none of whom I knew about before), all who had children who became drug addicts. It's worthy of study why so many "well off" children of celebrities go this route. I don't think money and availability alone is the answer though I'm sure it plays a large part. Being raised by strangers (nannies, others) likely has much to do with it as well.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    A lot has been written about the many child actors who never make it as mature or responsible adults, but little has been written about the number of offspring of famous parents who have struggled with depression, drugs and more. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Carol Burnett, Paul Newman, Angela Lansbury, Ryan O'Neal (more than one child), and amongst singers Gladys Knight, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin (none of whom I knew about before), all who had children who became drug addicts. It's worthy of study why so many "well off" children of celebrities go this route. I don't think money and availability alone is the answer though I'm sure it plays a large part. Being raised by strangers (nannies, others) likely has much to do with it as well.
    Let's not forget one of the most reported and one of the earliest stories on this subject and that was the daughter of Art Linkletter, Diane Linkletter at the age of 20 in 1969. She dropped some LSD and jumped from the window of her 21st Floor apartment. Back at the time, it was told with care and not in the sensationalized manner of say a TMZ today. In fact, I can remember as a kid hearing this story and not ever wanting to try drugs after it happened.

    Marv

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    A lot has been written about the many child actors who never make it as mature or responsible adults, but little has been written about the number of offspring of famous parents who have struggled with depression, drugs and more. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Carol Burnett, Paul Newman, Angela Lansbury, Ryan O'Neal (more than one child), and amongst singers Gladys Knight, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin (none of whom I knew about before), all who had children who became drug addicts. It's worthy of study why so many "well off" children of celebrities go this route. I don't think money and availability alone is the answer though I'm sure it plays a large part. Being raised by strangers (nannies, others) likely has much to do with it as well.
    Well I don't think it has anything to do with being raised by nannies or one's own biological parents. Addiction is addiction. The older I get the more that I have come to see that addiction does not discriminate- be it drugs or alcohol. It does not care about race, age, sex, culture, nationality, or social economical background. It's almost like its a part of the human condition. I think the only way to reduce its chances of taking hold or taking over someones life is to stay vigilant against it and to stop it early on if possible. But even then there are no guarantees. While writing this I'm reminded of James Brown song King Heorine. It's a really powerful song. I think addiction stems from unhappiness and is a result of a person not having the avenue or ability to deal with a particular issue or issues in life. It's an escape route away from ones reality/problems. I think everyone has "life problems", it's just a matter of how we choose to deal with them or handle them. Unfortunately some see no other way but to turn to drugs and alcohol.
    Last edited by RossHolloway; 06-30-2011 at 04:35 PM.

  21. #21
    hey Marv I remember that and what was even more telling was that Art Linkletter handled it with real class. He made people aware of it like Carroll O Connor did with his son and he did not bad mouth his daughter or the media.
    Steph

  22. #22
    I'm surprised at how well the royalties from various things held up ~ especially during the demise of the CD. So, totally they would have been $60000 in 2008 and $90000 in 2009.

    That might be the high water mark for a Motown artist out of the USA; it may not be a lot of $$$, but it's a kind of retirement income for one person.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
    hey Marv I remember that and what was even more telling was that Art Linkletter handled it with real class. He made people aware of it like Carroll O Connor did with his son and he did not bad mouth his daughter or the media.
    Steph
    It was a stunner of a story when considering what Art Linkletter did on his shows and how good he was communicating with children. It (his daughters death) did have an impact on us kids just coming of age to know what drugs were about.
    Carroll O'Connor was completely devastated. I felt bad for him. He wanted his son's dealer charged with murder.
    Last edited by marv2; 06-30-2011 at 08:36 PM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by luke View Post
    It's hard for me to feel bad for a person who strangled his aunt though I am certainly sympathetic to those who suffer from addiction. I dont want anyone denied what is rightfully theirs but people also need to take responsibility for their own lives.
    I was just shaking my head (the report says great-auntie was shot AND strangled). Sure it was his money by law and rights, but he didn't earn it and it just seems nervy to me for someone who did that to a little old lady to whine about not being well-off when his "debt to society" is deemed paid. Sorry to sound callous and non-pc toward cons. Addiction, drunkenness etc. are no excuse for the horrendous sounding nature of his crime (nor any crime, really, but jeeze...)

    I have much more sympathy for the other siblings who were also apparently ripped off (but aren't whining so loud).

  25. #25
    I have no sympathy for this man at all. First of all, after such a horrific murder, why is he on the streets again? Secondly, he doesn't deserve a cent! Prison saved his life? Who was there to save his poor aged aunt. He needs to just STFU

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    I have no sympathy for this man at all. First of all, after such a horrific murder, why is he on the streets again? Secondly, he doesn't deserve a cent! Prison saved his life? Who was there to save his poor aged aunt. He needs to just STFU
    psstt... thanks! My sentiments exactly but I didn't want to say it out loud

  27. #27
    Anybody doing the math here? If Paula's share in 2009 was $58,000, which is 1/7 of 2/3 of the whole pie... wow. Why am I not believing those numbers? We've heard for years about the penny-ante if any royalties checks some of the big stars of the past get. This is a major chunk of change, if accurately reported. Remembering that Paul's estate would only be entitled to AT MOST 1/5 of royalties for things he appeared on...

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by kalisa View Post
    Anybody doing the math here? If Paula's share in 2009 was $58,000, which is 1/7 of 2/3 of the whole pie... wow. Why am I not believing those numbers? We've heard for years about the penny-ante if any royalties checks some of the big stars of the past get. This is a major chunk of change, if accurately reported. Remembering that Paul's estate would only be entitled to AT MOST 1/5 of royalties for things he appeared on...
    Unless I misread the story, the $58,000 that Paula received was not her share. It was the total amount of royalties that she was then supposed to divide and distribute among the widow and the children.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Unless I misread the story, the $58,000 that Paula received was not her share. It was the total amount of royalties that she was then supposed to divide and distribute among the widow and the children.
    reese... thanks, oK, that makes much more sense. I was figuring that for court filings for bankruptcy she would be reporting HER OWN actual income, not that of monies received in her mailbox but earmarked to be disbursed to other heirs (whether it was or not). But the amounts are way too high for my figuring to be the case. So now the math is $58,000. = 1/3 plus 5/7 of 2/3 of the total pie. Total pie = $?

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by kalisa View Post
    reese... thanks, oK, that makes much more sense. I was figuring that for court filings for bankruptcy she would be reporting HER OWN actual income, not that of monies received in her mailbox but earmarked to be disbursed to other heirs (whether it was or not). But the amounts are way too high for my figuring to be the case. So now the math is $58,000. = 1/3 plus 5/7 of 2/3 of the total pie. Total pie = $?
    No, Kalisa, you are right the first time. She wouldn't report any of her siblings' income in her own Bankruptcy filing. That simply doesn't make sense. Still, 58K seems awfully high; after all, Paul was involved when the royalties were likely still pretty stingy to the artist. I think in "Dream Girl" Mary reported she got 2 or 3 cents per record or something like that. I think the Motown Detectives need to go to work here to figure out the numbers!

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by RossHolloway View Post
    Well I don't think it has anything to do with being raised by nannies or one's own biological parents. Addiction is addiction. The older I get the more that I have come to see that addiction does not discriminate- be it drugs or alcohol. It does not care about race, age, sex, culture, nationality, or social economical background. It's almost like its a part of the human condition. I think the only way to reduce its chances of taking hold or taking over someones life is to stay vigilant against it and to stop it early on if possible. But even then there are no guarantees. While writing this I'm reminded of James Brown song King Heorine. It's a really powerful song. I think addiction stems from unhappiness and is a result of a person not having the avenue or ability to deal with a particular issue or issues in life. It's an escape route away from ones reality/problems. I think everyone has "life problems", it's just a matter of how we choose to deal with them or handle them. Unfortunately some see no other way but to turn to drugs and alcohol.
    The only way to stop it is to never do it in the first damn place.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by jillfoster View Post
    The only way to stop it is to never do it in the first damn place.
    I agree with you 100%. But how many people do you know that have gone their entire lives without at least sampling alcohol or experimenting with some type of drugs, illegal or prescription? And I include prescription drugs because I recently heard a news report that said more people die from prescription drug overdose than from illegal drugs. Sure there may be a handful that have never tried alcohol or any type of drugs, but I would guess those are in the small minority of people. It's all a part of life's gamble and unfortunately some people just go down the road of addiction for what ever reason.

  33. #33
    What a damn shame,i'm sick of these stories of infighting over money,we all loved paul and his demise is the saddest of all amoung the original temps..how many of you remember the show[the millionaire]the reason i bring it up is this,what if these record companies hired investigators to find the heirs[the real ones]once it is discovered that royalties are due and present them with whatever they are owed from the estate with the understanding that the payment is exactly what they are to recieve and that's it,i know it's not gonna happen but it sounds more fair and sane then all this fighting amoung family some of whom were too young to even remember the relative there're fighting over.

  34. #34
    I wonder if the Temps or any of the older Motown acts have been a part of those recent lawsuits over royalties. I believe the issues stems from downloads sales through like I-tunes and such. Some artists have made a claim that sales thru I-tunes are the result of a licensings agreement and not a physical record sale. The payment rates are different and higher for download sales.

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