How to handle wrong writing credits

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On Marla Glen’s recently released album is a cover version of I Pity the Fool and there are (seemingly) writing credits for Bobby Bland printed on the back. Of course Bobby Bland didn’t write the song but was its first performer. But this may have been done by purpose.
It’s written:
All songs written and composed by Marla Glen
except “I Pity the Fool” by Bobby Bland

The song is officially written by Deadric Malone, but actually he hasn’t written it too. In fact Don Robey aka Deadric Malone was a publisher who bought the rights on songs and published them under his name or pseudonym. The real writer was Joe Medwick who sold all the rights on his work to this man.

Should the credits be changed? Shouldn’t there be at least co-writing credits for the real writer?
It’s again a bit legal stuff vs artistry.

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I’d say that if you have good proof about the original author, the original author should be credited. The credits for a work are not only relevant for one recording or even release, but for all performances of that work. If rights are sold and the new owner “changes” the credits, older performances aren’t suddenly written by someone else. And creating a new work just for the different credits feels very wrong to me.

There is another problem when people ghostwrite things for another and the “wrong” credit is used from the beginning. Sometimes this is public knowledge, sometimes this is acknowledged in some way and sometimes I guess it gets found out by musicologists. I’m not sure about those cases (though I’d probably be inclined to use the real author if the proof is strong enough).

As always with those edge cases, please don’t forget to mention your reasons in the annotation, so that future editors won’t try to ‘fix’ these credits (not everybody looks at all old edit notes).

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When I find something like this I try and chase back to the earliest release I can find which includes the track. Ideally a single or album by that artist. Or maybe a 20th anniversary issue as they have even more cleaned up data. Something printed by the actual artist who will care about details.

What I trust the least is a compilation release.

When correcting something like this I’ll try and check old edit notes to see if any reason why it is “wrong”. And then leave a good note with a reference as to why I think my edit is now more “correct”.

The internet is full of so many dubious references. Only the other day I was having to correct Wikipedia as it had a number of dates wrong for an artist. And then deeper in my research I found the random person on a forum who had put those wiki pages to.

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Don Robey bought those artists as a whole and the original recording was performed by Bobby Bland and credited to the pseudonym of Don Robey. There’s a later release (compilation) where Joe Medwick performed the song, but there’s no Work linked and no cover images that would show the credits there but it would probably be Deadric Malone as other credits would have been illegal.

I would not remove “Deadric Malone” as it identifies the song as one of “Robey’s R&B artists” work. Apart from earning money for other peoples work, his brand stood for highest quality. But I think the real writer should be credited too.

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Sounds like this is also a story to add in to the Annotations of those Works.

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Done so, but should Joe Medwick be added as a writer too?

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No idea. I don’t know who these people are. I’d just suggest to add your research and links to the edit notes and annotation. And give a clear reason why you think they should be included. It makes it easier for the next editor to know to trust your research.

Many people will add data from the CD they have in hand as that is the only thing they know. Then you come along with wider researched details on a subject. This is just as valuable to the database as it makes those facts more real.

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Did Medwick write it? If yes, he should be credited, and for my part, he should be the only one credited in this case. Malone or Robey can still be named, there’s a possibility to link to a person via “previously attributed to”.
If unclear (and that’s what I think is the case here): Adding an annotation could help; it’d be good to get a hand on a primary source, because wikipedia articles can’t be trusted. In this case it’s just not clear which songs he wrote for Robey. Tricky stuff.

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Yes and no. At least they have to be referenced (official biography of Bobby Bland). Furthermore Joe Medwick has performed the song by himself. But it will be hard to find a second independent source.

For Robey’s work in general removing his writing credits is not recommendable as it would leave most of his songs “written by [unknown]”.

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