In a recent Q&A in Brooklyn about his unauthorized biography, Low Side of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, author Barney Hoskyns mentioned that Waits’ litigious past made him very nervous while writing the book. Now it looks like he dodged a lawsuit from Waits, but Herb Cohen, a former record company executive and manager for Tom Waits and Frank Zappa, is suing Hoskyns and his publisher, Random House, for $1 million over claims allegedly made in the book.
Courthouse News reports that Cohen claims the book falsely describes litigation against him by Waits regarding stolen royalties. Though Cohen concedes that Waits did sue him once in the early 80s over his company’s unauthorized licensing of two songs for commercials, Cohen denies that there was ever a legal spat over royalties or copyright issues between he and the legendary troubadour.
One excerpt from the book that’s cited in the lawsuit describes Waits’ wife and songwriting partner Kathleen Brennan telling Jerry Yester that Waits was ripped off by Cohen. “Kathleen told me Herbie had nicked a lot of money from Tom… Waits absolutely trusted Herbie to his core, and it devastated him when he found out that he had grabbed a lot of the royalties,” Yester allegedly told Hoskyns.
Imagine how pissed Waits will be if he gets subpoenaed over an unauthorized biography.