Michael Jackson didn’t do it his way after all. Hours after the pop singer’s first posthumous single “This Is It” was released amid great hype on Monday, it emerged that the tune had been recorded 18 years ago by an obscure Puerto Rican singer. Moreover the co-author of that tune, “My Way” songwriter Paul Anka, threatened to sue Jackson’s estate for proper credit and his share of royalties. The administrators of the estate quickly acknowledged Anka’s claims and granted him 50% of the copyright, a potentially massive payday for the 68-year-old Canadian crooner. And an equally massive loss for the estate.
“They realize it’s a mistake, they realize it’s my song, they realize it’s my production of his vocal in my studio and I am getting 50% of the whole project, actually, which is fair,” Anka said in a video posted on the TMZ gossip Web site.
The song dates back to 1983, when it was known as “I Never Heard” — a co-write between Jackson and Anka — and intended for inclusion on an Anka album. But the pair fell out, Jackson took the master tapes and Anka got them back. The song was eventually released in 1991 after Anka placed it with a Latin singer named Sa-Fire. Both “I Never Heard” and “This Is It” share the same vocal and piano line, although the latter track boasts new overdubs from Jackson’s brothers.