Experimental singer-songwriter Tom Waits is currently in the midst of a legal battle with a high-profiled French circus star.
Bartabas, a famous French horse trainer and founder of Cirque Aligre and Zingaro, is best known for his unique combination of equine acrobatics and impressive performance pyrotechnics that he brings to the stage. His current show On Achève Bien les Anges, which loosely translates to They Shoot Angels, Don’t They?, is an equestrian opera/ballet featuring a numbers of Waits’ songs that the Zingaro troupe performs to.
In September 2016, the French courts refused Wait’s bid to have Bartabas and his circus family shut down the show, but his recent appeal could potentially put a stop to taking On Achève Bien les Anges to the UK.
Waits said in a statement, “I turn down all commercial product endorsement offers and rarely collaborate or lend my name or work to other endeavours. It is my choice to get paid or not to get paid. And that value has been taken and exploited for the profit and promotion of Bartabas’s career and for his religious and political ideology, which neither the songs nor I chose to express. In short, it violates the integrity of my work.”
Bartabas has claimed to have contacted Wait’s management for permission to use the 16 songs, and he also claims that Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan (co-writer of the songs being used) have been paid €400,000 ($448,040).
Waits is asking for €500,000 ($562,000) in damages.