By Associated Press
The son of legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson can keep profits from the only two known photographs of his father, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The case turned on a technicality. The court ruled other family members knew as early as 1990 about the photos and royalty payments. A court declared the son, Claud Johnson, the musician’s sole heir in 1998.
Under Mississippi’s statute of limitation, the state Supreme Court ruled a legal challenge should have been filed no later than 1994. A lawsuit by other family members over the photos was filed in 2000.
The court rejected arguments that the clock started when Claud Johnson was named sole heir.
Robert Johnson — who is said to have sold his soul to the devil for prowess on the guitar and whose songs have influenced a host of famous musicians — was destitute when he died in Mississippi in 1938 at age 27.
His estate is valuable, partly because of a collection of his recordings that featured a photo of Johnson on its cover and won a Grammy in 1990.