McLachlan Trial: Court Hears Neudorf was Adequately Compensated

Neal Hall The Vancouver Sun

A legend in Canadian rock music testified yesterday at the Sarah McLachlan trial that Darryl Neudorf wrote part of three songs on McLachlan's 1988 debut album Touch.

Bill Henderson, the former leader of Vancouver rock bands Chilliwack and The Collectors, was accepted by the judge as a music expert. He used a graph to depict the elements of songwriting - lyrics, melody, chords, bridge, verse, and chorus.

He calculated that Neudorf wrote 16% of the song Vox, 9.4 % of Steaming, and 20.8% of Sad Clown.

"It's obvious Neudorf wasn't peripherally involved in this project," Henderson, 53, told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen, who is hearing the civil case without a jury.

But Henderson, who has written 300 songs and is the former president of the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), which administers song royalties, said Neudorf's main role working with McLachlan was as an arranger and producer.

Henderson noted producers often add parts of songs to make a better recording and don't expect to get paid for songwriting because they are paid in "points."

Neudorf was paid one point - one percentage of retail sales - plus $3,385 in wages for his work on Touch, which Henderson concluded was adequate compensation and more than Neudorf would have received from songwriting royalties.

Neudorf, 34, a former drummer and songwriter with the Vancouver band 54-40, claims he co-wrote four songs; Vox, Steaming, Strange World, and Sad Clown, on McLachlan's debut album. He also claims he co-produced Touch with Greg Reely.

He is seeking damages for unpaid royalties, claiming McLachlan and her Vancouver record company, Nettwerk, her manager Terry McBride, and business partners Mark Jowett and Ric Arboit have been unjustly enriched by Neudorf's work, which helped launch McLachlan into international stardom.

At issue is a three-month period in early 1988 when Neudorf was hired to help McLachlan develop songs after she was signed by Nettwerk to a five-record deal on Oct. 2, 1987. At the time, McLachlan was 19. She had never written a complete song.

McLachlan, 30, testified Neudorf helped her write one song, Steaming, but she maintains she wrote the rest of the songs on Touch. Vancouver musician Darren Phillips was given credit on the album for co-writing two songs.