More than four decades of consumer fraud and identity theft in the music industry has ended thanks to the diligence and dying wishes of Rock and Roll, Vocal Group and Grammy Halls of Fame member Herb Reed of The Platters.
Nevada-based United States District Court Judge Miranda M. Du closed the last case in a quartet of contemporary court battles providing the final chapter in an epic story that began half a century ago. The historic litigation, mired in worldwide deceit, greed and intrigue within the music industry, centered squarely on the ownership, performance rights and other intellectual property (IP) of the culturally and historically significant vocal group.
Reed, the founder and naming member of multi-platinum recording artists The Platters, and his fellow original singers, Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi and Zola Taylor, had their identity stripped away by a seemingly endless proliferation of imposter groups that, to this day, continue to deceive people at all levels of society including U.S. presidents, world leaders, many religious groups, educators, domestic multi-national television broadcasters, journalists and everyday worldwide music consumers.
According to longtime oldies agent and music researcher Cord Cosler, president of Celebrity Direct Entertainment in Florida, “At one time, there were almost 200 groups of ‘Platters’ playing around the world.”
Working under Reed’s direction, his friend and manager, Frederick J. Balboni, Jr., hired Eric Miller Sommers of Boston, a rising star in the Intellectual Property (IP) world, to lead the daunting task of unraveling the tangled web of legal battles that had occurred since 1969. Las Vegas-based veteran entertainment and IP litigator John Krieger of Gordon & Silver was later added to the team as trusted Nevada local counsel, as was the international law firm of Holland & Knight serving the same capacity in New York and Florida.
“Reed felt he was the victim of a form of identity theft,” said Sommers. “Herb was adamant that he needed to regain control over performing rights to The Platters’ name in order for the historical impact of the vocal group’s timeless music to evolve after stagnating for 50 years and be able to appeal to new generations of music fans, thereby ensuring and protecting his legacy.”
The decisions rectify the wanton consumer fraud that has been perpetrated against the worldwide public and allows The Platters to reestablish their importance in the pantheon of popular music, by not only taking back their legal rights, but also by taking complete control over their legacy and recordings.
“Herb was so happy he literally broke down and cried,” said Balboni, recalling the moment that he told Reed the name had been returned to him.
The historic legal decisions achieved by Sommers under Reed and Balboni’s direction and forward-thinking business strategies co-conceived by Balboni and George Howard (former president of the world’s largest independent record label, Rykodisc, original founder of the world’s largest independent music distribution company, TuneCore, manager of Carly Simon and advisor to Fortune 500 companies), finally allows for The Platters to be presented in a manner that speaks to their enduring musical and cultural legacy. This paves the way for Boston-based Herb Reed Enterprises, LLC (HRE)—the management, label, publishing firm operated by Balboni, Jr.—to eliminate the thousands of fraudulent recordings, the remaining imposter groups and marketplace confusion cluttering the legacy of a truly iconic and trendsetting quintet.
This final chapter in a long saga now allows HRE to today announce the release of Back to the Basics LIVE! with The Platters, the first fully-authorized recording of The Platters music in over 50 years.
About The Platters
The multi-platinum Platters were comprised of founder and naming member Herb Reed, Tony Williams, Paul Robi, Zola Taylor and David Lynch. In 1955, the quintet crashed through the racial divide that existed between black and white artists during America’s infamous civil rights era. Their debut hit single Only You (and You Alone) that launched The Platters as superstars on the world stage was actually an error. A popular DJ named Alan Freed accidentally played their Mercury Records debut single on-air during a “prime” time that was traditionally reserved for “white artists.” The ballad, based on the then groundbreaking Tin Pan Alley sound, became an instant hit with the public and would eventually reach number five on the Pop charts. Soon after, The Platters released The Great Pretender, which propelled them to the number one spot on the charts, providing the launch pad for their meteoric rise. As a result they became the first African-American group to achieve international superstardom. Both songs have since been declared songs of the 21st century by the Grammy foundation.
With several chart-topping hits and more than 400 recordings, as a foundation, The Platters continue today their evolution in the music industry with vocalists Wayne Miller, Valerie Victoria, Frank Pizarro, Cheo Bourne and Music Director Michael Larson.