Legal fight brews over important grunge-era master tapes

SEATTLE (AP) — The co-founder of a famed Seattle recording studio is being sued to turn over the master recording tapes from a defining album of the grunge era — “Temple of the Dog,” which featured members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

A&M Records filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week, The Seattle Times reported (http://is.gd/64XbZU ). The company said it bought the album from the supergroup in 1991, but Rajan Parashar, who launched London Bridge Studios with his brother, won’t give up the master tapes.

The band Temple of the Dog was founded in 1990 by Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who was joined by future members of Pearl Jam, including Eddie Vedder, who had just moved to Seattle. The album was recorded in just 15 days, after Cornell wrote several songs as a tribute to Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood following his fatal heroin overdose.

In the lawsuit, A&M said that until 2013 it believed the musicians had the master tapes. But a representative relayed that they were in the possession of the Parashars — something Rajan Parashar’s lawyer confirmed on Friday.

“He’s had them all along,” attorney Warren Rheaume said. “They’re his.”

Parashar’s brother, Rick, died last August.

According to the lawsuit, Rick Parashar initially produced “Temple of the Dog” on a verbal agreement with the band. After the album’s success, the lawsuit said, they memorialized the deal in a contract signed in 1993, in which Rick Parashar agreed to turn over the master tapes and all rights to them for $35,000.

The album was released by A&M Records in 1991 to critical acclaim, but failed to chart. That changed the following year, when A&M realized it was sitting on a collaboration of two of its most popular acts. The album was reissued with a video of the single “Hunger Strike” and peaked at No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

Rajan Parashar was not part of any agreement between his brother and A&M, Rheaume said.

The Parashar brothers built the studio in 1985, and it became a vortex of the Seattle grunge recording scene. Rick Parashar’s credits include multiplatinum releases for Temple of the Dog, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon and Dinosaur Jr.

The lawsuit demands that Parashar turn the tapes over immediately. It also asks for damages and legal fees.

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