Hit maker Dr. Luke is no longer chief executive of the label he founded under Sony Music in 2011, but sources indicate his relationship with the label hasn’t been completely severed.
On Tuesday, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that Sony had distanced itself from the producer, born Lukasz Gottwald, amid a long-simmering legal battle between Gottwald and singer Kesha. The two have been entangled in lawsuits since 2014 after the pop singer accused her mentor and collaborator of abusing her.
According to the Reporter, the two sides were in the midst of negotiating a split and that Luke was no longer CEO of his Kemosabe Records, an imprint of Sony.
Luke indeed no longer holds the executive position, , a change that was expected as part of a contractual obligation that was set to expire at the end of March 2017.
Still, a representative for the producer told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Luke maintained a working relationship with the label. “This is wrong, they are not cutting ties,” the rep said without going into specifics as to what the relationship may entail.
Last spring, there were reports that Sony was looking to part ways with the producer in response to months of public pressure as the contentious legal clash with Kesha continued.
Both Sony and Gottwald maintained that report was unfounded, and it was revealed then in court documents that his contractual obligation as CEO of his label would expire in a year.
Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Sebert, is signed to Sony through Kemosabe. She stunned the pop world in 2014 when she sued her longtime partner and superstar platinum producer, alleging a decade of sexual, physical and mental abuse.
In the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the singer alleged that years of abuse resulted in an eating disorder and a stint in rehab that sidelined her once white-hot career.
According to her account, on one occasion, “Dr. Luke instructed Ms. Sebert to take what he described as ‘sober pills.’ ... Ms. Sebert took the pills and woke up the following afternoon, naked in Dr. Luke’s bed, sore and sick with no memory of how she got there.”
The suit continues with similar, detailed claims dating back to when she was 18 and first moved to L.A.
Kesha and Gottwald’s fallout has been a very public affair, with the filing of suits and countersuits with new accusations.
Although neither party has yet emerged victorious in the litigation, the singer has had the support of some of the biggest names in pop music. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha after a New York judge denied an injunction the “Tik Tok” singer had sought to be able to record outside of her Sony contract (Kesha has not released a new album since 2012, though she put out a single with Zedd last year).
Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, JoJo, Lily Allen, Halsey, Sara Bareilles and Lady Gaga were among the artists who tweeted their support. Jack Antonoff and Zedd offered production services.
And when asked about the case, Kelly Clarkson blasted Luke, who is responsible for her megahits “Since U Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You,” as “demeaning” and having “poor character.” She said her longtime label, RCA (under the Sony Music umbrella), pressured her into working with the hitmaker.
Despite backlash, Gottwald has continued to work, producing records for Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Pitbull and Fifth Harmony. He has vehemently denied the claims against him.
“It’s a shame that there’s so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information,” Gottwald wrote in a series of tweets last year. “The only truly objective person who knows the facts is the judge.”
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