Not-So-Great Vibrations for Brian Wilson, Ex Lead to Suit

Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford says she's entitled to more cash after Wilson sold song rights to UMPG
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2022 3:50 PM CDT
Brian Wilson's Ex Sues for $6.7M Over Song Royalties
This Oct. 6, 2017, file photo shows Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys performing at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, Ill.   (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP, File)

Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford was married to Brian Wilson from 1964 to 1978, a 14-year stretch during which the Beach Boys co-founder helped write some of the group's biggest hits, including "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," and "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Now, a year after Wilson sold his song rights to Universal Music Publishing Group, Wilson-Rutherford is suing her ex for $6.7 million she says he owes her for song royalties, reports Reuters. Thanks to a 1981 divorce settlement, Wilson-Rutherford was granted half the rights to the songs Wilson helped pen during the time they were married. But a complicated mechanism under federal copyright law has made what exactly she's entitled to a bit more murky, and Wilson's team is pushing back.

Per documents cited in Wilson-Rutherford's suit about the Wilson-UMPG deal, which Billboard notes wasn't reported at the time, Wilson received a $31.6 million payment for his songwriting interest, plus an additional $19.2 million payment for his termination, or reversion, interest. Regarding that latter payment, US copyright law permits artists to take back control of their music rights decades after they've signed them away. The current dispute arises over whether the divorce settlement includes the termination payout of the deal. Wilson-Rutherford says it does, as her ex recently reclaimed those rights, while Wilson says it doesn't.

"Brian ... did not own those termination interests until 30 years after the 1981 judgment was entered, and long after the separation of the parties," his legal team wrote Friday. Rolling Stone notes that Wilson's attorneys did offer Wilson-Rutherford $3.3 million in December to "tie off all issues" between the two, but Wilson-Rutherford didn't want to settle for that. Wilson-Rutherford's complaint, which was moved last week from Los Angeles state court to federal court, also asks Wilson for accounting records from the past seven years on the song royalties. (Read more Brian Wilson stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.