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Earth, Wind & Fire Founder

I Did NOT Screw Over

My Dead Friend

8/19/2012 1:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0819_Maurice-White_getty2
The creator of Earth, Wind & Fire is ADAMANT ... he did not bilk his late-friend out of THOUSANDS in music royalties, despite what the children of his estate claim.

As TMZ first reported, Maurice White was sued by the estate of late music producer Charles Stepney, who died in 1976. The estate claimed EWF and Sony music failed to fork over any royalty payments for the last four decades ... all based on an alleged oral agreement Stepney had with White.

White has now fired back in court docs and is claiming there WAS NO oral agreement and he doesn't owe Stepney or his estate squat. White says EWF already paid Stepney in full for his services waaaaay back when he worked for them and never agreed to shell out for royalties.

White also claims that Stepney's estate (comprised of his children) has no right to sue over some alleged oral agreement that neither Stepney himself nor Stepney's late wife ever chose to sue over.

White is asking the lawsuit be dismissed entirely.

A judge has yet to rule.

52 COMMENTS

No Avatar
16.

RHagans    

Ok, now TMZ has updated the photo. Now lets see if they can just take the story down because White has suffered from Parkinson's Disease for the past 30 years. There is no way that this story is true.

609 days ago
17.

Cujeaux    

Can somebody explain the pink stache and brows?

609 days ago
18.

1    

Maaaan, he looks a fright...

609 days ago
19.

devilgirl    

I guess someone at TMZ finally snapped out of their brain dead coma and corrected the picture.

609 days ago
20.

Throwback kid    

I thought Sherman Hemsley died last week, what is he doing in Earth, Wind and Fire?

609 days ago
21.

TMZluver    

By 1976 the band's fame had 'barely' taken off and it's pretty hard to sue when your dead. I have a hard time believing anyone in the music biz, then and now, would agree to be paid in full and pass on royalties. Stepney was 'the' pillar to help EWF get to the next level. He not only co wrote the lyrics and composed the music he also showed them how to play it, according to their own story out on DVD: Shining Star! They have made enough money over the years. Why not share some with the children of the man who helped them become famous literally.

609 days ago
22.

CriticXtreme    

An oral agreement isn't ish unless it was recorded. You must always do***ent in a viable contract. The music business is the business of devils.

609 days ago
23.

Tracker    

test

609 days ago
24.

erica    

Why are his eyebrows and moustache dyed bright red? Is he insane? Yikes

609 days ago
25.

Hallie    

I posted before I realized there apparently had been a photo of Ralph Johnson posted earlier. In any event, many with Parkinson's disease still get around. -- Michael J. Fox is alleged to be starring in a new sitcom.

609 days ago
26.

SallyChi    

Am the only one having problems with signing into TMZ....every doggone time....TMZ you need to make it easier for us to sign in.

609 days ago
27.

SIN COMPTON VARRIO SEGUNDO LOS SANTOS    

WHEN YOUR LOCKED UP AND YOUR DOING BAD YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON TMZ TO PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE G...!

609 days ago
28.

SallyChi    

Your point is what?

609 days ago
29.

Traci    

Charles Stepney was a brilliant songwriter, and close friends with Maurice White, Stepney woud have collected his money long ago if there was Royalties to get.. Talking about dragging up old dirt..from 1976.

609 days ago
30.

traci404    

Kinda late to try to collect money on royalties from 30 years ago. When the parties of the "oral agreement" are dead and gone. We the record industry was not like it is today, on accountability, but we all know contracts need to be in writing. Oral agreements are hard to enforce. I've never heard Maurice White was shaddy.. Motown heck yeah!

609 days ago
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