Deborah Scroggins Of ESG: “Money is getting made, and I’m not getting my share”
In the 1980, the young all female funk band ESG were about as hot as you can get,defining a young, gifted and black chart that ticked out every single thing you’d want in a band, including a hipster high tail coolness, and a hellya funky sound definably post-punk New York.
The three sisters Deborah, Renee and Valerie Scroggins were ESG, Deborah was only 16 years old, and got signed to 99 Records after being signed to 99 Records. “UFO” has been sampled over 400 times, and listening again now, it is easier to see why the minimalistic slink was so popular. Martin Hannett produced half of their first EP in 1981, so if you have any doubts as to how these girls (Deborah was sixteen years old)
But, as Deborah told the New York Daily News, she didn’t get real paid.
“Money is getting made, and I’m not getting my share,” Deborah Scroggins recently told the Daily News.
Kicked out of the band in 1987, “I was always just completely getting crapped on,” she claimed, after demanding her fair share.
This is the rest of the story via the Daily News (here):
“In 2000, Deborah started registering with ASCAP as a writer and publisher of the songs she worked on — but that didn’t help. Registering songs she co-wrote and performed with the Library of Congress didn’t help either, she says in her suit.
She finally sued her sister in Brooklyn federal court in 2009, saying they’d cheated her out of the copyrights and royalties. They came to an agreement in 2012, which Scroggins thought stipulated she would handle the “UFO licensing,” her suit says. But Universal subsequently told her Fire Records owned the masters and publishing rights to all ESG works — which she claims in the suit were obtained “fraudulently and illegally” during her legal dispute with Renee Scroggins.
In past court filings, Renee Scroggins has not only rejected Deborah’s claim to writing credit — but outright downplayed her role in the band.
“The name E.S.G means Emerald (Valerie’s birth sign) Sapphire (Renee’s birth sign) Gold (which my sister Valerie and I wanted to achieve),” Renee Scroggins said in court documents in 2012. “She (Deborah) is not even included in the name because she was nothing more than a compensated stage performer.”
Neither Universal, Fire records, nor ASCAP responded to requests for comment. Neither Renee nor Valerie Scroggins could be reached. ESG has recently been on tour in Europe.”
According to Hipology (here), “Some would say ESG are one of the most important bands in dance music. Ever! Coming from New York at the beginning of the 1980′s ESG found themselves at the meeting point of three revolutions in music – House, Hip-Hop and Punk. Combining all three elements with their associations with Larry Levan and The Paradise Garage, Factory Records in England and sampled by everyone from Public Enemy to Q-Tip.”
Listening to ESG today, this is very lean very funy bass and slink beats, a youthful smartiness, and no doubt with so much open space you could rap circles round the beats. It sounds great. $85 Million? Now that is wishful thinking.