The Gap Band Families Allege Unpaid Royalties for ‘Uptown Funk,’ Seek Accounting of Money

The families of The Gap Band members, Robert and Ronnie Wilson, filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming publishing group, BMG, has held out on paying royalties for Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s 2014 hit, Uptown Funk.

The family members were identified as Linda Wilson, Ronnie’s widow, and Robin and LaTina Wilson, Robert’s daughters. According to Rolling Stone, the heirs of The Gap Band members filed the lawsuit in Manhattan alleging royalties were not paid in connection to The Gap Band song Oops Upside Your Head. The brothers were credited as songwriters along with three others on the 1979 song which was the “basis of Uptown Funk,” the lawsuit claims.

Robert and Ronnie were each given copyright and music publishing rights to Uptown Funk. The lawsuit explains that the two band members sold their rights to a third party in 1978.

In 2015, BMG bought the third party. That same year, an agreement was made allotting 3.4% to each brother for copyright and music publishing rights to Uptown Funk. The lawsuit alleges, “[BMG] has failed and refused to pay plaintiffs or account to them for royalties they are obligated to pay plaintiffs pursuant to a written contract as co-writers of Uptown Funk.”

“Despite its obligations to account for and pay to plaintiffs their share of all income received from the ‘Uptown Funk’ musical composition, BMG has refused and failed to provide either the funds due to plaintiffs or an accounting, despite plaintiffs’ repeated demands therefore,” the lawsuit says, according to Yahoo Sports.

The families allege that BMG has “retained all funds due to plaintiffs for its own benefit and enjoyment” or the money has been “wrongfully diverted.” The heirs requested an accounting of funds received by BMG since the 2015 agreement to determine alleged damages.

The Gap Band member, Charlie Wilson, was not mentioned in the lawsuit.

As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, Ronnie passed away in November 2021 at the age of 73.