Mungo Jerry (Ray Dorset), Eliot Cohen, Satellite Music Ltd and me...
(How they ripped me off - and refused to admit or take responsibility for it, in spite of the evidence - a continuing story... )
This is an update to the other article on this site, "How Mungo Jerry (Ray Dorset) Ripped Off a Busker..." - written to illustrate the current (rather sad) state of affairs as they now exist and just how irritating, misleading and ultimately pointless six months of emails from Ray Dorset can appear to be.
So, what happened next ?
Well, after posting the previous article detailing (some of) the iniquities surrounding the recording contract I had with Satellite Music Ltd and the way in which I and the recordings I had made for that company had been ruthlessly exploited, the very last thing on earth I had expected was contact from Ray Dorset. However, an email from him arrived, pleading his own innocence in the matter and blaming everything (and I mean, everything...) on his former business associate, Eliot Cohen - the man who had, in point of fact, by means of his business and marketing skills, been largely responsible for Mungo Jerry's success in the 1970's and who had, therefore, essentially created Ray Dorset's source of royalty income from more than 30 million sales of "In the Summertime" and various other number one hits around the world.
The email was accompanied by an attachment, which was a letter from his solicitors to Cohen's solicitors. This made it fairly clear that a somewhat acrimonious dispute now existed between the pair, that the dispute had existed for some time and was (and probably still is) ongoing. Satellite Music Ltd, the company responsible for cheating me over the "Acoustic Moods" recordings and of which Ray Dorset was a director and 50% shareholder, was now consequently in liquidation. They appeared, in short, to now be at each other's throats, squabbling like children over a variety of issues, but largely, of course, over money. "Oh dear, how terribly unfortunate," I thought to myself.
Throughout the course of the correspondence which ensued (and there was a great deal of this) I repeatedly offered Ray as many ways as I could possibly think of and invited his own proposals to settle the situation between us in a mutually agreeable manner. I have at no time had any wish to be in dispute with him or anybody else, despite considering that he has earned and fully deserves a mild rebuke or two for his and his company's treatment of me.
As far as I was concerned, I felt fully justified in my position in that I should have been paid many, many years previously and that the marketing of the downloads should never have been allowed by him to take place.
I had walked away from the situation in 1997 only to have it come back to cause trouble for me in 2009 and this time around I wanted it resolved - and still want it resolved. In six months of email correspondence however, Ray has declined to make even a token offer or any proposals of any kind at all to enable this to happen.
Obviously, he wanted me to take down the article on my website. Had I not written it and placed it there, however, I have no doubt whatever that I would not have heard from him at all - he certainly hadn't given a damn about me or what had happened back then during the intervening twelve years. I have therefore declined to amend or update it until now, feeling that it also serves a useful purpose in warning others to approach the music business in general with caution.
It was he who had negotiated and signed my contract, it was he who had promised me that I would receive 1000 CD's as part of the deal, it was he who had driven me to London to collect them from the Red Bus Studios, where I actually saw them, but who had also at the last minute changed the plan of driving me back to Bournemouth with them - and subsequently after being pressured by me for weeks if not months and making a variety of excuses, eventually admitted that I would never receive them... (The day on which I was supposed to have collected them, I had gone back with just 200, as many as I could carry, by train.) It was also he who had verbally "cancelled" my contract in the course of the arguments between us which had inevitably ensued.
Initially, in the various emails which he sent me, Ray made out that he could "not remember" the details of these (and most other) arrangements - something which I found quite impossible to regard as believable or at all likely. Eventually, however, after a good many detailed and persistent joggings of his memory from me, he came up with this rather pathetic and contemptible excuse of a reason for his tricking me out of those 800 CD's - this is a quote, copied, typo and all, from an email I received from him:
Thanks for you mail again.
The 800 CD's, you obviously did not receive them and I apologise, Eliot ran the company and I acted on his instruction, he controls 50% of my major compositions, if I did not comply with his instructions then he would hold up my royalty payments, he never supplied these directly at the designated time to me or the other writers, we had to furnish him with copies of the statements that we got from Universal first, he would then send a cheque on account and the balance later, the VAT was always hard to get from him, I think that he still owes VAT from over eight months ago.
So, had he not cheated me, at that time a mere busker, then payment of his own large royalty income from those number one hits might have been delayed ? Heavens ! Unthinkable !
The very many emails which I received from him varied quite dramatically in tone and content. Some were belligerent and hostile, threatening to sue me over the article on my website for, and again, I quote, using his spelling ; "deformation of character" - oh, how I laughed ! In others he appeared to be attempting to engage me as an ally in his dispute with Eliot Cohen, purely, I strongly suspect, in an entirely selfish attempt to bolster and add weight to his own case by casting as many aspersions as possible on Cohen's character, of whatever nature, in the hope that these would make his opponent look worse in Court. I'm fairly certain that he's tried to engage other people wronged by the company - of which he himself was of course a director - in exactly the same manner, with precisely this (and probably only this) in mind.
And all the while protesting that he himself is the victim of the company who has lost the most, despite his own ineptitude as a director of it being to a very large extent the exact and direct cause of the various problems which have arisen and continue to exist in connection with it for myself and many other people. (In my opinion, formed by the correspondence.)
In some of these emails he quite obviously attempted to intimidate me - for example the one in which he rather ridiculously and somewhat laughably stated that his legal representatives - a well-known London firm - also acted for David Beckham, The Rolling Stones and Elton John - as if that mattered or had anything to do with me ! Really rather childish.
Another example of this attempted intimidation was the way in which he would "cc" the correspondence to not only this rather illustrious firm of solicitors, his manager and various other people totally unconnected with the matter, but also to a police officer friend of his (who is apparently keen to sing backing vocals on his next recording and is based somewhere in North Yorkshire, perhaps in the Darlington area...) using his official police email address - a crude and unsophisticated tactic which left me unimpressed to say the least.
In other emails, however, he adopted a very different tone and attitude, even feigning friendship. In two things, however, he was consistent throughout the entire six months' worth, possibly 50 or 60 mails which I received from him and replied to all of... Firstly, blaming Eliot Cohen for everything under the sun including the way in which I had been ripped off and secondly, completely and utterly denying that he bore any responsibility for anything whatever himself.
I still hold all the emails and attachments which I received from him and others in connection with all of this - and separate copies of them, in a safe place.
The picture which emerged from the correspondence of goings-on at Satellite Music Ltd over the period during which that company traded was one of both iniquity and chaos - dodgy deals done in cash in hotel rooms, professional negligence, default and wilful neglect on a grand and truly staggering scale, with most if not all of the artists with whom it dealt being cheated in some way or other, it appeared.
Despite my asking, it remains unclear when in fact the company had commenced trading, but Ray's assertions that it had operated without written records of any kind and that trading accounts had been prepared and submitted here and there entirely from information "in Eliot's head" gave me significant cause for concern. It appeared to have been operating in this way since the mid 1980's, from what little information he had made available to me.
Ray's concept of his duties and responsibilities as a director and 50% shareholder of the company seems to me to have been pitifully, woefully inadequate (perhaps he thought that "director" sounded good as a description of himself?) and from the information I have seen it appears that he had totally no idea of what these should have been, or, in fact, any idea of what he was doing with regard to his directorship at all.
In the emails, Ray insistently denied to me that he had received any remuneration or financial benefit of any kind in respect of this directorship, yet when I eventually saw statements in connection with the Liquidation of the company, there was an amount clearly and explicitly shown exceeding eight thousand pounds in respect of his directors' loan account. Hmmmm...
I suppose it follows that he may have been less-than-straightforward with me in a number of other ways - I cannot say, but on the face of it, this seems very likely indeed.
There had been months and months of very tedious correspondence, in which Ray had seen fit to send me everything with the exception of the kitchen sink (although I daresay he would have sent me that too if he could have attached it to an email in some way ) including such bizarre and undesirable items as newsletters from David Icke, until I persuaded him that since he was in dispute with somebody who with a name like Cohen might be Jewish, that distributing these particular items might perhaps not be seen in a positive light by his opponents - or anybody else, for that matter.
When I finally discovered that he and/or his advisors had not in fact done so on my behalf, as had been suggested by our correspondence, Ray managed to convince me to submit a claim to the Liquidator myself in respect of the amounts owed to me by the company. Owing to the statutory time limits involved for submitting such claims which had by then expired anyway and as there seemed little else that I could do, somewhat reluctantly and despite my extreme scepticism that it would be in any way other than a total waste of time, this I did, only to have my suspicions confirmed.
Cohen denied flatly that anything was owed to me from sales. He had, apparently, of course, long since wilfully destroyed any records which may have existed - but probably never existed in the first place - relating to the recordings and which might have substantiated what was owed to me from the exploitation of them by the company. (According to the contract, this should have been 50%...) He also denied any knowledge of the 800 CD's which I had not received and squarely blamed Mungo (Ray Dorset) for all of the arrangements regarding those. The Liquidator was therefore unable to quantify my claim and could do nothing.
All entirely predictable, of course.
It also very much appeared to me , from the statements of assets that I saw, that these had been ruthlessly and deliberately stripped in a quite calculated manner and in such a way as to leave most if not all of the possible creditors (and there were lots of these, some of them quite well known artists who'd had number one hits with the company ) unsatisfied. It seemed that there would very probably be just enough left to cover official debts and admin costs and precious little else. An old, old trick which the perpetrators were no doubt quite expert at, having almost certainly done it more than once in the past.
Are still out there as far as I know. Ray Dorset has stated that Cohen is responsible for putting them up, although to my mind, Ray himself also bears a very considerable and large measure of responsibility for them in so far as he failed to control the recordings, failed to come to any arrangement with me regarding my contract or the recordings made for Satellite, failed to act in coordination with his co-director regarding his verbal "cancellation" of that contract which of itself was probably unlawful in any case and failed to actually get anything done about them at all, up to and including the present day.
Early on in my correspondence with Ray Dorset, I formed the opinion that the downloads were probably created by Cohen purely and simply as a bargaining chip or kind of "political football" in their dispute and I have seen nothing at all since then which would indicate that this is not the case. They are, however, a continuing source of considerable annoyance and professional embarassment to me and have certainly cost me a fair bit of work. Without entering into a legal dispute with Cohen which I have no intention of wasting money on and which would be somewhat impractical to conduct from my location in Japan in any case, there is very little that I can do about them - Cohen knows this perfectly well without doubt. He continues to market the downloads, trading worldwide upon my name, with no valid contract or arrangement of any kind made with me to do so and apparently with no regard for me whatever.
Well, what a mess - not of my making.
Ray Dorset - in my opinion; disgracefully, utterly and dismally incompetent, a good deal less than truthful or forthright and perhaps not entirely mentally robust. It appears to me that had he not been so very thoroughly inept as a company director then this whole situation would not have arisen. I couldn't possibly recommend anybody to do business with him or any of his companies. Annoying when I think that I played at the guy's wedding, for free.
Eliot Cohen - in my opinion; a crocodile. I couldn't possibly recommend anybody to do business with him or any of his companies either.
"What a pair of old pirates", I should certainly say, if asked.
It appears that a lot of people (not just me) seem to have lost income and/or been cheated by the nefarious activities and machinations of this rather extraordinary and unscrupulous company.
Watch out - there could be other companies like them out there, maybe even run by the same crew - it could be you, next time...
And I'm still waiting for you to pay me for those 800 CD's, Ray - still waiting, since 1996.
Derek Dallenger (March 2010)