Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rock Impresario Sues Waits Author for Libel

Tom Waits during an interview in Buenos Aires,...Image via Wikipedia

Manager Herbert Cohen, whose stable of rock stars has included Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, George Duke and Alice Cooper, has sued British author Barney Hoskyns and publisher Random House for defamation, following publication May 19 of Low Side of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (cv09-4400) on June 18, claims the book damages the reputation of Cohen, Waits' long-time manager, by accusing him of stealing royalties from the singer-composer-actor and by including him in a group described as "fish-peddlars and professional vermin."

The complaint appends pages from the book that include the allegedly defamatory passages, including purported comments from folk rock musician Jerry Yester that Waits' wife told him that "Herbie nicked a lot of money from Tom," and "Waits absolutely trusted Herbie to his core, and it devastated him when he found out that he grabbed a lot of the royalties."

Although the 59-year-old Waits is quoted in the book, he is not named as a defendant. Waits, dubbed "one of the last beatniks" by music critics, recorded for Asylum Records in the '70s and Island Records in the '80s, including the albums "Swordfishtrombones" and "Rain Dogs." He also has appeared in several movies, including "Short Cuts," "Coffee & Cigarettes," and "The Fisher King."

Surprisingly, although Hoskyns is British and the book was released in the United Kingdom in March 2009, Cohen brought suit in California, rather than the more defamation plaintiff-friendly England.

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1 comment:

  1. What's shocking is not that Herbert Cohen was called a "professional vermin," but that he should object to it. Strictly speaking, I'm not a professional because I haven't been licensed by the state, but I've rubbed whiskers with the best (I've also "sold fish") and I'm shocked to hear it used as a perjorative. Tom Waits should also hush up. Being in a stable with Linda Ronstadt is one of my top ten fantasies, so what is he complaining about?