NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former producer to pop sensation Lady Gaga has sued his one-time protege for more than $30 million claiming he was instrumental to her success but unable to profit from it when their romance ended.
In his lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court, Rob Fusari contends he was a key figure in transforming the ambitious young woman named Stefani Germanotta into the pop phenomenon she is today, even helping coin her moniker, Lady Gaga.
But when their romance fizzled, Fusari was cut out of her record deal, failed to be paid royalties on subsequent music sales and was shortchanged on the producer fees he was due.
“All business is personal. When those personal relationships evolve into romantic entanglements, any corresponding business relationship usually follows the same trajectory so that when one crashes they all burn. That is what happened here.” the lawsuit said.
Lady Gaga, a 23 year-old double Grammy-award winner, is considered among the most exciting new pop artists of recent times and has sold over 10 million albums worldwide.
She has cultivated a rabid fanbase with hits such as “Bad Romance” and Poker Face,” and thrilled audiences with stunts such as setting her piano alight at the American Music Awards or having fake blood drip from her ribs in a live performance.
The suit details how Gaga met Fusari in March 2006 through a mutual friend. Initially unimpressed by her appearance, he asked her to sing and was “within seconds” blown away.
“Fusari thought Germanotta’s songs were brilliant but lacked commercial appeal. He pushed her to explore different musical genres,” the suit said.
As the relationship became romantic, the suit details how Fusari supposedly began crafting Germanotta’s image, even accidentally purloining the Lady Gaga name.
“One day when Fusari addressed a cell phone text to Germanotta under the moniker “Radio Ga Ga” his cell phone’s spell check converted “Radio” to “Lady.” Germanotta loved it and “Lady Gaga” was born.”
But the stress of working together eventually began to impact their relationship and they began bickering. Fusari even goes so far as to say Lady Gaga was ‘verbally abusive’ in his lawsuit. By January 2007, they cut ties to one another.
Fusari alleges that a deal signed by Gaga’s company Mermaid Music LLC with Interscope records later in 2007 entitles him to 20 percent of proceeds, and a portion of merchandising and other revenue. He also is asking for royalties and producer fees he says were never paid.
The producer also has helped produce music for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Will Smith and Destiny’s Child, according to various media reports.
A representative for Lady Gaga could not immediately be reached for comment
Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Bob Tourtellotte