Spandau Ballet latest band in royalties tiff

Four members of the 1980's pop sensation are waging war against a fifth member for royalties. Roger Pearson reports.

FORMER pop icons Spandau Ballet are now waiting to hear the outcome of a bitter wrangle over royalties.

Judgment has been reserved in the acrimonious Chancery Division action, in which three ex-members of the 1980's chart-topping band have asked Mr Justice Park to rule that another former group member, guitarist and song writer Gary Kemp, and his company, Reformation Publishing, owes them royalties estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In what is the latest in a string of pop-world battles, lead singer of the group, 37-year-old Tony Hadley, along with 38-year-old drummer John Keeble and saxophonist Steve Norman, also 38, claim that Kemp owes them publishing royalties going back as far as 1988.

Andrew Sutcliffe, counsel for Hadley, Keeble and Norman, argued in court that an agreement had been reached under which Kemp, who wrote the group's songs, would hand over five twelfths of his publishing income to the group members.

However, Kemp has denied this, claiming instead that out of generosity – and no formal agreement – he had said he would give 50 per cent of his publishing income to the group during a period when money was needed to keep it going.

He has denied the alleged agreement with each of the four group members and Steve Dagger, their manager.

The court case is one which casts a sad shadow on Spandau Ballet, who became one of the most successful bands of the 1980's pop scene after forming in 1979.

The bulk of the group members were pupils together at the Dame Alice Owens School in London's Islington, and formed a group while they were still there, initially using the name Roots, then The Cut, then The Makers and finally Gentry before becoming Spandau Ballet.

The claim now being pondered over by Mr Justice Park, who spent time in and out of court listening to the group's music, is one of stark contrasts.

Sutcliffe, Hadley and Keeble allege that the agreement was that Gary Kemp would hand over almost half his royalties to the group and the money would then be split among the group members and Steve Dagger. That would result in the other group members receiving a twelfth each and Kemp receiving seven twelfths.

However, Kemp, who with his brother Martin has left the music world to concentrate on an acting career, denied that this agreement had ever taken place.

He told the court in evidence that the atmosphere in the band was not one of equality, describing it as a "hierarchy" rather than a democracy.