Primary Wave Purchases James Brown Catalog, Likeness, and Real Estate In Reportedly $90 Million Deal

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James Brown in 1997.

Over the summer, the 15-year-long legal battle concerning the estate of soul mainstay James Brown drew to a close with a “global settlement.” Now, the “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” creator’s estate has officially inked a far-reaching intellectual-property deal with Primary Wave.

15-year-old Primary Wave revealed its reportedly $90 million agreement with the estate of James Brown via a social-media post and a formal release (which was emailed to DMN) this afternoon. The multimillion-dollar transaction specifically encompasses “publishing, master recording income stream, and name and likeness rights,” Primary Wave indicated. Plus, the “real estate” of James Brown is also included in said transaction, according to The New York Times.

The latter source relayed that Primary Wave founder Larry Mestel – whose company last week bought a majority stake in the publishing catalog of “Eye of the Tiger” songwriter Jim Peterik – is considering plans for a James Brown museum (at the South Carolina-born artist’s home), musical, and television project.

James Brown released 59 studio albums across his decades-long career, beginning with 1958’s Please Please Please (as part of The Famous Flames) and concluding with 2002’s The Next Step. “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” (1974), “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” (1970), “I Got the Feelin’” (1968), and “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (1965) represent just some of Brown’s well-known tracks, and the Rocky IV cast member produced and wrote each of the listed songs.

To summarize the multifaceted courtroom confrontations that emerged following James Brown’s 2006 passing, the legal status of the three-time Grammy winner’s marriage to Tomi Rae Hynie came into question for several reasons.

And around the time that she in an early 2007 lawsuit asked a court to appoint a special administrator and identify her as Brown’s widow, nine of Brown’s children levied a complaint that sought to remove the executors that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had appointed.

Importantly, on this front, the South Carolina Supreme Court ultimately overturned a proposed compromise between Tomi Rae Hynie and Brown’s children, owing to the agreement’s perceived disregard for The Payback artist’s will. Brown had left most of his assets to charity, with an emphasis on providing college scholarships to underprivileged children in his native South Carolina as well as Georgia, where he grew up.

Bearing in mind this brief recap’s details – the better part of a decade separated the proposed resolution’s rejection and the initially noted “global settlement,” of course – Mestel told the Times that a “small percentage” of the James Brown deals that his company finalizes moving forward will reach scholarship funds.

Moreover, longtime James Brown estate executor Russell Bauknight said that the Primary Wave pact’s multimillion-dollar windfall will bankroll scholarship funds “in perpetuity.” But it should be mentioned that ongoing lawsuits involving Bauknight and former James Brown estate executor Adele Pope will delay the distribution of any scholarships, according to legal experts.

Primary Wave has closed catalog deals with the estates of Prince, Bing Crosby, Gerry Goffin, Luther Vandross, and Jeff Porcaro in recent months, and despite the many other IP sales that 2021 has brought, further transactions are reportedly on the way.