The Tony Award-winning production, which is co-produced by actor Will Smith and hip-hop star Jay-Z, tells the story of late Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti.
Cuban-born author Carlos Moore filed suit in Manhattan federal court in New York on Monday (08Nov10), seeking to shut the musical down amid claims it is based on his 1982 book, Fela, Fela: This B**ch of a Life.
According to court documents, Moore was offered $4,000 (£2,670) for the rights to his authorised biography of the late musician in 2007.
He claims he turned down the “grossly insufficient” offer and demanded “an advance and participation in the royalty pool” but “no further offer was ever made”.
He alleges Jones and playwright Jim Lewis used the book anyway to develop the musical without his “knowledge, authorisation or consent”.
FELA! spokesman Richard Kornberg tells the New York Post he was “really shocked” by the lawsuit because Moore took part in publicity efforts for the show.
It’s not the first time Fela! has been tangled in litigation – photographer Marilyn Nance filed suit against the show’s producers back in July (10), alleging an iconic picture she took of Kuti’s Nigerian nightclub was used in the production without her permission.