Fans were all aflutter when news broke yesterday that a new EP of unreleased Prince material was coming this Friday. Entitled Deliverance, the six-track release was even previewed with a stream of its title track. Now, however, it looks like the EP may not be issued after all, as iTunes, Google Play, Apple Music, and Amazon have all pulled pre-orders for the release, and “Deliverance” is no longer streaming anywhere.
The sudden disappearance comes just hours after Prince’s estate asked a US District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota to block release of the EP. The estate’s attorney, Lora Friedemann, argued that California sound engineer George “Ian” Boxill had no right to release music he recorded with Prince at Paisley Park between 2006 and 2008. Boxill had put finishing touches on the tracks following Prince’s passing in 2016, but Friedemann argues that goes against the agreement he signed, as well.
“Anything he may have done to modify or use them for his own purpose, that all belongs to the estate,” Friedemann said (via MPR News). The suit also states that the agreement Boxill signed stated he “would not use any recordings or property in any way whatsoever,” and the attempted release of Deliverance is a clear violation of that.
Boxill’s attorney, Tony Zeuli, counter-argued that his client and Prince’s estate had been in discussions regarding the music as far back as eight months ago, and that the estate’s delay was a detriment to Boxill. He also made the point that Boxill was not simply a sound engineer on Deliverance, stating that he was “co-author.” Zeuli said his client was “responsible for the guitar tone, the bass tone and drum tone,” and “composed, recorded and produced the backup vocals.” What’s more, he claimed the agreement Boxill signed referred to a different recording session that took place in 2004, not the sessions from which Deliverance sprang.
Update – April 20th: According to TMZ, Prince’s estate has prevailed in its legal battle against Boxill. The judge issued a restraining order for the Deliverance EP, meaning it will not be released on April 21st, on the one year anniversary of Prince’s death. The order expires on May 3rd, but a hearing before that date will determine if it will be extended.
Either way, Boxill has been ordered to turn over all recordings to the Prince estate. The judge cited the confidentiality agreement Boxill signed in 2006 in making the decision.
However, the court did not address the instant-download of “Deliverance” many fans received after placing pre-orders for the EP. It seems that song is now out in the world, and there’s no word yet on how the estate plans to handle its unauthorized release. As of this writing, it’s still up for sale on the project’s website, PrinceRogersNelson.com. In a statement, an attorney for the label who put out the single, Rogue Music Alliance, said, “The Federal Court located in Minnesota has temporarily enjoined the release of the remaining unreleased tracks on the Deliverance EP. The court order has not enjoined the released single ‘Deliverance.’ Therefore the ‘Deliverance’ single will continue to be sold.”
Those who pre-ordered Deliverance from any digital outlet should probably be seeking refunds.