LOS ANGELES -- Singer Little Richard has filed a $115 million suit in federal court against three music companies, claiming he has not been paid royalties on his songs such as the hit 'Tutti Frutti' since 1955.
The suit, filed Wednesday, names Specialty Records Inc., ATV Music Corporation and Venice Music as defendants.
Court documents state that Little Richard, whose real name is Richard Penniman, signed with Specialty Records in 1955 and granted ownership of his songs to the company in exchange for 50 percent of the royalties.
He sued in 1959, claiming he had not received any money. He settled the Superior Court suit that year, accepting $11,000 to waive his right to royalties from the sale of records.
Attorney Arthur Pollock said Penniman still has a claim on royalties from the sale of his music -- including 'Lucille,' 'Long Tall Sally,' 'Tutti Frutti' and 'Bama Lama Bama Loo.'
'In this case the money he should have received for the writing of the songs has been going to the music publishers and has been stopping there,' Pollock said. 'He has never seen anything from that.'
In addition to money damages, Penniman seeks the appointment of a receiver to manage his compositions pending court action. The rights to Penniman's songs were transferred to ATV in 1979, when that company purchased Venice Music from Specialty Records, the suit states.
Pollock said Penniman, who has devoted his life to the ministry for the past several years, is planning to make numerous public and television appearances during the next few weeks to discuss the suit.