George Jones’ Widow and Cracker Barrel – Yes, Cracker Barrel – Sued Over Posthumous Album Release

Producer says that recordings given to him by singer “as his retirement package” were released without his permission

George Jones’ widow and the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store are among those named in a lawsuit filed by producer Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery over the release of a posthumous album by the deceased “He Stopped Loving Her Today” country-music legend.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Tennessee, producer and songwriter Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery — described as a “former associate/best friend” of Jones — says he was approached by Jones in the late 1970s to record an album with Jones and The Smoky Mountain Boys, which Jones wanted Montgomery to produce and “own as his retirement package for all his years of service and friendship to Mr. Jones, to do with as he wished.”

Montgomery said that he attempted to strike a deal with MCA Records Nashville to release the album in the 1990s, but the singer’s now-widow, Nancy Jones, intervened, and “the deal died.”

According to Montgomery, Nancy Jones approached Montgomery and his wife in the mid-2000s, offering to allow them to release the album “if they paid George and Nancy $100,000.”

“Given the previous understanding as to the ownership of the album, Plaintiff declined,” the suit states.

After Jones’ 2013 death, the suit says, Nancy Jones obtained the master tapes and sold off all of the assets related to him, including the master tapes to the album, “George Jones and the Smoky Mountain Boys,” to Concord Bicycle Assets. Montgomery says he was approached by lawyers for Concord about releasing the album, but Montgomery asserted that he owned the tapes and denied permission to release them. Despite that, the suit says, “Concord Music Group, Inc. d/b/a Rounder Records … added instrumentation to the existing master recordings (drums), remixed, and released the album to the public in conjunction with Defendant Cracker Barrel Country Store, Inc.”

“The release does not credit Plaintiff as producer of the album, but rather lists Concord executives as ‘Executive Producer’ and ‘Project Supervisor,'” the suit states.

Montgomery is asking for damages of at least $5 million, and punitive damages of at least $4.5 million.

TheWrap has reached out to Cracker Barrel and Concord for comment on the suit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.