Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Bluesman’s son wins custody of photos, profits

By
From page B5 | February 21, 2014 | 1 Comment

JACKSON, Miss. — The son of legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson can keep profits from the only two known photographs of his father, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The case turned on a technicality. The court ruled other family members knew as early as 1990 about the photos and royalty payments. A court declared the son, Claud Johnson, the musician’s sole heir in 1998.

Under Mississippi’s statute of limitation, the state Supreme Court ruled a legal challenge should have been filed no later than 1994. A lawsuit by other family members over the photos was filed in 2000.

The court rejected arguments that the clock started when Claud Johnson was named sole heir.

Robert Johnson – who is said to have sold his soul to the devil for prowess on the guitar and whose songs have influenced a host of famous musicians – was destitute when he died in Mississippi in 1938 at age 27. His estate is valuable, partly because of a collection of his recordings that featured a photo of Johnson on its cover and won a Grammy in 1990.

One of the photos is a studio portrait taken of the Mississippi bluesman by Hooks Brothers Studios in Memphis, Tenn. The other photo, known as “the dime store portrait” or “the photo booth self-portrait,” was taken by Robert Johnson himself.

On one side of the dispute were descendants of Johnson’s late half-sister, Carrie Harris Thompson. While they didn’t dispute that the copyrights to Johnson’s musical compositions belong to Claud Johnson, they argued that, as the heirs of Thompson, they were entitled to the fees generated from the Johnson photographs because they were Thompson’s personal property.

On Claud Johnson’s side were also record company representatives and a promoter who had signed a contract with Thompson in 1974 for her rights to Johnson’s work, photographs and other related material. In return, Thompson was to receive royalties that resulted from the promoter’s efforts.

The promoter later signed a deal with CBS Records to release a collection of Robert Johnson’s 29 recorded songs. CBS, later acquired by Sony, released a boxed set of Johnson’s recordings that sold more than a million copies and won the 1990 Grammy for Best Historical Album.

Thompson died in 1983, but her heirs argued they were entitled to royalties.

Claud Johnson, whose parents were not married, found out about his father’s estate in the early 1990s and was later named his father’s sole heir.

Leflore County Circuit Judge Ashley Hines ruled in 2001 that when Claud Johnson was declared the musician’s sole heir, the royalties specified in the 1974 contract were to go to him.

The Supreme Court found in 2004 that the question of whether the photos were the personal property of Carrie Thompson was never litigated. It directed Hines to rule on the issue.

Hines, without a trial, found in 2012 that the statute of limitations had run out on the legal challenge by Thompson’s heirs and the photos were Claud Johnson’s.

Supreme Court Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson, writing in Thursday’s decision, rejected arguments Thompson’s heirs that they didn’t sue because they thought they were the only heirs to the Johnson estate.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Well, this certainly is new information. This is the first time I've heard that the great Robert Johnson had a son. Was his mother Virginia Travis or was his mother another woman? Was he able to prove that Robert Johnson was his father? We don't even know where Robert Johnson is buried at! There are several memorials constructed in his memory, but there is very little official documentation. There's just a marriage certificate to Virginia Travis and a horrible ''no doctor available'' death certificate. All Johnson really left behind were his recordings, 2 photos and 2 official records. Johnson was the inventor of a brand of music that would eventually morph into the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Even I ''get it'' ---- here's my version of 32-20 blues ---> http://m.youtube.com/index?#/watch?v=3Osmvzcye5I

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 18 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Local woman helps spread Easter joy

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B12 | Gallery

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

Cheers, jeers for the week of April 13-19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Seniors, it’s never too late to do something about your health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Sports

Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3