Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) A young Aretha Franklin singing in a black Baptist church in Detroit with just a piano for accompaniment. Her father introduces her to an audience of the world’s best musicians, including the Beatles and Mick Jagger.
Sound like a dream? Prominent Detroit attorney Arnold Reid says it’s for real, he’s seen it, and he’s working to bring it to the public.
The videotaped concert from 1972 was put together by Franklin’s former manager Terry Wexler, and it’s been in a vault at Warner Brothers since it was created, Reid said. Someone from Warner Brothers stumbled onto it recently and set up a few private screenings, but before they could promote it or sell it nationally, Franklin had Reid file a federal injunction and violation of privacy lawsuit against the media giant.
“They agreed to stop it — now we’re negotiating how much money they’re going to pay Miss Franklin for the use of her name and likeness,” Reid explained.
So, what will fans see if it ever becomes public?
“This is literally amazing,” Reid said. “When the cameraman pans the audience, front row is Mick Jagger, and he’s clapping, like he’s getting ready to get up in the … pit and give some Negro spiritual words, I’m telling you, like a black Baptist preacher, Mick Jagger was throwing down.”
Reid said it’s definitely a product of the 1970s, with people in Afros, daishikis, and overwhelming bell bottoms.
“You see other very prominent people in this audience, a couple of the Beatles are there, Rev. James Cleveland (was there.) Her dad gets up and says a few words about her… I mean, this is just classic. If we can ever reach an agreement in terms of fair compensation for Miss Franklin it would be such a treat to share with all of her fans. You see her uncut in 1972, standing up live, no studio creation, none of that stuff, just raw, God-given talent.”
Who owns the tape? Reid said movie producer Alan Elliot got a quit claim to buy it in 2007, and there was a provision in the agreement that said any use of it needed prior permission from Franklin.
“(You) still can’t use somebody’s name and likeness for commercial purposes without compensating them,” Reid said. “They own it, but they can’t exploit it commercially without her permission.”
Reid said he’s working on “a lot of underlying issues,” including fairly murky copyright laws. But he, and Franklin, hope it happens. The lawsuit says the footage could be worth upwards of $2 million.
“It’s worth a lot of money, man, I’ll just put it that way,” Reid said. “It would be a treat, man, the thing is the public deserves to see something like that … I really hope we can get this thing negotiated, because it is a treat.”