WASHINGTON – Not only do Peaches & Herb have to be together to perform a duet, they also have to be together to sue Sony Music Corp. over royalties, a federal court has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis this week dismissed Herbert Feemster’s case against Sony because Francine Hurd — the original Peaches to Feemster’s Herb — was not part of the suit, among other reasons.
But Davis left the door open for Feemster — known professionally as Herb Fame — to refile the lawsuit if he can be “Reunited” with the original Peaches and get her to join the suit.
Feemster filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore earlier this year, claiming breach of contract — a contract that he and Hurd signed individually in 1967 with CBS Records, which later became Sony Music.
The suit charged that the record companies did not provide Feemster with promised documents that would let him confirm that he was receiving the appropriate amount of royalties for the R&B group’s songs.
The music company also failed to provide promised semiannual royalty statements that included a breakdown of the amount paid based on a formula stipulated in their original contract, the suit said.
Feemster said that over the past 33 years, the record companies rarely provided royalty statements and when they did, the documentation was insufficient to show whether he was being properly compensated.
The suit did not specify what amount of royalties Feemster feels he is entitled to, but Davis’ ruling noted that he was seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
But Davis ruled that the three-year statute of limitations would only allow the R&B duo to claim royalties lost since April 24, 1997 — three years before the suit was filed.
The judge also agreed with attorneys for Sony that, because Hurd was a part of the original duo she was an essential part of the case, and Feemster’s case could not proceed without her.
Feemster’s lawyers admit that the key to finishing this case is finding Hurd. She would have been asked to be a party in the case already if they could have located her, said William Sherman II, an attorney for Feemster.
Feemster and Hurd formed Peaches & Herb in the late 1960s, but stopped performing in 1970 after recording hits that included “Let’s Fall in Love” and “United,” according to onlinetalent.com, a talent agency web site.
After the breakup, Feemster became a police officer in Washington, D.C., while Peaches became a housewife in the Washington area, the web site said.
Feemster restarted the group in the 1980s with a different Peaches. He has since had a third woman fill the role of Peaches for the R&B duo, which in its later incarnations has had such hits as “Reunited” and “Shake Your Groove Thing.”
Feemster could not be reached for comment Friday on the judge’s ruling. Lawyers representing Sony said they could not comment at this time.