Bob Dylan Sued for $7.2 Million Over Publishing Rights Sale
The deal between Dylan and Universal Music Publishing was revealed last month. In response, Levy’s wife launched legal action saying the estate was due millions for the songs he cowrote with Dylan in the '70s.
Levy, a theater producer, had spent several years writing songs with Roger McGuinn for the Byrds and solo projects when he met Dylan. The pair wrote seven songs together for Dylan's 1976 album Desire, including “Isis,” “Hurricane” and “Joey." Levy also directed Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
In the filing, Levy’s wife and his publishing company said Dylan had “refused to remit … their rightful share of the revenue and/or income earned from the catalog sale with respect to the compositions.” A legal representative for Dylan told Pitchfork: “This lawsuit is a sad attempt to unfairly profit off of the recent catalog sale. The plaintiffs have been paid everything they are owed. We are confident that we will prevail. And when we do, we will hold plaintiffs and their counsel responsible for bringing this meritless case.”
In 2004 – the year of his death – Levy recalled how the collaboration had come about, saying: “He said he liked the stuff I’d written with McGuinn and said these magic words … ‘I’d like you to write some stuff for me.’ Well, you know, first of all it got me a little nervous. … I said to him, ‘Well, you know I write the lyrics, I don’t write the music.’ I was assuming he thought I’d written music. It never dawned on me he was going to ask me to write lyrics for him.”
Levy recalled being concerned about Dylan’s distinct writing style. “I loved his style, but I wasn’t about to copy it," he noted. They arranged to meet the following day, but Levy admitted, “I wasn’t 100 percent sure he was going to come over.”
Watch Jacques Levy Talk About Bob Dylan