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Children and ex-manager fight over Ray Charles estate

By Emily Morgan

April 22, 2008 at 11:35am

It’s been four years since Ray Charles died, but his name is still a money maker.

However, his will failed to designate someone to manage his name and image after death, sparking a battle between his twelve children and his longtime manager, Joe Adams, 86.

The family maintains that the singer’s trust has been mismanaged by Adams, Charles’s manager since 1961. The singer’s children, by several different women, also claim that Adams has tarnished their father’s name by releasing albums he wouldn’t have approved. They hope to gain more control over the estate, image, music and foundation of Ray Charles.

Mary Anne Den Bok, mother of Charles’s youngest child, Corey Robinson Den Bok, has filed a federal suit on behalf of several of Charles’s 12 children claiming Adams was overpaid by $1.2 million in 2005 and 2006.

The family will seek a formal investigation and audit of Charles’s estate, trusts and foundation. Although Adams has resigned as president of both Ray Charles Enterprises Inc. and the Ray Charles Robinson Foundation, the Charles family maintains that Adams still exercises control over the estate.

The Los Angeles Times reports that although Ivan Hoffman replaced Adams as president, “a receptionist at Ray Charles Enterprises said last week that Hoffman was not currently its president. Hoffman and a company spokesman declined to comment.”

After Charles’s death in 2004, Adams ran Ray Charles Enterprises Inc., as well as the Ray Charles Robinson Foundation, Charles’s charity organization. At one point, Adams held the position of president, chairman & treasurer of the foundation, which violated state law. He also had control of the trust funds for Charles’s children.

This isn’t the first time attorney Mary Anne Den Bok has intervened in affairs related to the estate.

In July 2007, Den Bok wrote a public letter on behalf of eight of Charles’s offspring, including Ray Charles Robinson Jr., David Robinson, Robert Robinson, Sheila Robinson, Raenee Robinson, Robyn Moffett, Vincent Kotchounian and Corey Robinson Den Bok.

Den Bok spoke about the supposed threats Ivan Hoffman made to rescind the donation made by Charles to Albany State University. Hoffman was head of Ray Charles Enterprises at the time, and because of the delay in building a performing arts center in the artist’s name, he and Adams reportedly considered taking legal action against the university.

In addition to disagreement over finances, Charles’s sons and daughters have taken issue with the creative direction of the posthumous career of Ray Charles.

They have voiced their disagreement on the management of their father’s recordings, believing that the last two albums produced after Charles’s death would not have been approved by the artist himself.

Even after the commercial success that followed the Oscar-winning flick Ray, posthumous releases, Genius & Friends and Ray Charles Sings, Basie Swings, sold poorly.

Genius & Friends is a duet album, made by dubbing the voices of singers on old tracks Charles had recorded. Ray Charles Sings, Basie Swings remixes Count Basie with unreleased Ray Charles material.

The albums sold 161,000 and 209,000 copies respectively, according to Neilsen. Sales showed a significant drop from the 3.2 million copies sold of Genius Loves Company, the last album recorded in his lifetime.

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5 Comments

  • #1.   Dawn 01.20.2011

    WHY IS ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED WITH RAY CHARLES ESTATE MUSIC ETC… THE ONLY ONES ENTITLED TO ANY AND ALL OF HIS RIGHTS MONEY ETC…. ARE THE CHILDREN ALL 12 OF THEM! WHY IS THIS WHITE MAN ALL UP IN THEIR FATHER’S MONEY AND THEIR MONEY ISN’T THIS ILLEGAL AND WHY DO THEY HAVE TO GO TO COURT THEY ARE IS CHILDREN!!!!

  • #2.   yolanda Larkins 12.09.2012

    So true Ms Dawn, From a very very long time friend of Ray Charles son charles wayne Hendrix

  • #3.   yolanda Larkins 12.09.2012

    So true a very very long time friend of Ray Charles son charles wayne Hendrix

  • #4.   MOTHERLOVE 04.04.2013

    MAY THE CREATOR GET THE GLORY.

    IN LIFE PEOPLE OF COLOR GET THE WRONG END OF THE STICK. WE SHOULD GET ALL OF OUR FAULT SOLVED BEFORE WE LEAVE THIS LIFE. I FEEL FOR ALL OF HIS CHILDREN WHAT PROBLEM DID THEY ENCOUNTERED IN LIFE GROWING UP. MONEY MAKE PEOPLE DO STRANGE THINGS. GREED, WHERE IS THE LOVE.LOOK AT ALL THE PAIN, DID HIS MANAGER LOVE HIM, WHAT ABOUT ALL THE WOMEN. MAY MR. HENDRIX FIND PEACE,IT SEEM AS THOUGH HE LOST HIS MOTHER, AT A YOUNG AGE. MAY THE CREATOR GIVE HIM PEACE. WHEN IT COME TO MONEY, IT CAUSE PROBLEM.

  • #5.   David 07.06.2014

    @Dawn: you really should do your homework before you continue to add fuel to race relations in this country. The ‘white man’ you reference was actually a black man named Joe Adams.

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