Lawsuits over songwriting credits are a dime a dozen in the music business. But it's not every day that someone claiming to be a musician's "mentor" alleges that he didn't get his fair share of royalties for coming up with the "concept" for a song — and that he was then taken to the basement of his protégé's suburban mansion and beaten up over the dispute.
Henry "Love" Vaughn, a man formerly employed by R. Kelly, filed a lawsuit in Chicago on Wednesday claming that the singer beat him and cheated him out of songwriting royalties for the hit "Step in the Name of Love."
Vaughn, who described himself in the suit as a longtime "mentor and guide" to Kelly, said that when he visited the R&B star's home in Olympia Fields, Illinois, on February 19, Kelly and unnamed others dragged him to the basement and "Kelly repeatedly struck [Vaughn] about the face and body with his fists," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Vaughn's suit also claims that he gave Kelly the "concept" for "Step in the Name of Love," after suggesting that they create a song based on the steppin' dance style. Vaughn alleges that Kelly later went back on an oral agreement to pay him one-half of the money he earned from the song. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for assault, false imprisonment, breach of contract and other claims.
Kelly's spokesperson, Allan Mayer, denied the charges, according to the Tribune, labeling Vaughn a "hanger-on" who was trying to extort money from Kelly — who has written more than 2,000 songs without ever using a co-writer, according to Mayer.
Calling Vaughn's lawsuit a "pathetic collection of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies," Mayer went on to say in the statement that to suggest that Kelly needed Vaughn's help to write a song, "or that he offered him any portion of his songwriting royalties — is ludicrous."
Though Mayer claimed in the statement that police investigated the assault allegations and found "nothing to them," Olympia Fields police would only confirm that they had investigated the alleged assault but would not discuss the incident. "All I can tell you is that we didn't file any charges in the case," Commander James Keith told the Tribune. "Beyond that, I can't really say anything."