Former boyfriend sues the disappearing jazz singer, claiming he discovered her

The acrimonious case, which casts light on the star's so-called "missing years" between her first hit and her latest success, is being brought by the musician William Galison amid claims of physical abuse, harassment, libel and thwarted ambition. It is expected to be heard at the Federal Court in New York next month. Galison, who has performed with stars such as Carly Simon, Barbara Streisand and Shaka Khan, is claiming $1m (£555,000) in damages resulting from the split with Peyroux.

The dispute centres on the recording of a seven-track CD entitled Got You On My Mind in March 2003, shortly before Peyroux signed with Universal, the world's biggest record label.

Despite a reputation for "fragile artistry" - her record company launched an international search for her after she went missing just as she was poised to hit the big time - this year has been one of corporate glory for the singer. Her music is being promoted by the global coffee chain Starbucks (alongside that of Bob Dylan) and her album Careless Love is a Top 10 success in the UK charts.

But Galison, a jazz harmonica player, is claiming that much of the present interest was due to him. He will tell the court that he in effect rediscovered her playing in a bar in New York in 2002 during the seven-year period in which she "vanished" after the success of her debut album, Dreamland, in 1996.

He told The Independent yesterday that the couple immediately teamed up after the meeting - playing in a series of influential venues such as New York's Bottom Line and Joe's Pub. They also performed with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra before an audience that included the former prime minister John Major and his wife, Norma. In the meantime they also moved in together, he says.

"We were romantically involved. She lived with me, she was eating my food. We were romantically involved and we had an amazing act. But suddenly she stopped working with me," he said.

He says Peyroux used the album they had co-funded and recorded at a studio in Brooklyn as a demo for the Universal-licensed label Rounder. After their relationship collapsed, Galison tried to market the record with another label. But the company dropped it after being contacted by lawyers for Rounder, he said.

In a letter to the co-founder of Rounder, Ken Irwin, Galison said: "I am concerned about Madeleine's career and her psychological well-being. You know well that Madi has a history of attempted suicide. Now she finds herself facing a federal lawsuit with no representation and everything to lose. If God forbid, Madi should harm herself as a result of the stress of this episode, it will be her handlers - those who encouraged her to lie and betray her friends for their own selfish motives - who will be to blame."

Rounder's lawyers have suggested that Galison may be using the legal dispute as an "ill-advised attempt ... to trade on the name and reputation of Ms Peyroux to boost his career by passing off an inferior version of a Madeleine Peyroux album".

They also claimed to have obtained "directly and from Ms Peyroux, evidence of numerous incidents of physically and verbally abusive behaviour by Mr Galison against Ms Peyroux".

Galison claims the allegations of abuse are libellous. Peyroux's lawyers will tell the court that such has been Galison's behaviour that the singer has contemplated filing criminal harassment charges. He denies the claim.

Paul Foley, general manager of Rounder, said: "Rounder has no comment regarding any civil action brought by William Galison other than we remain convinced that our position will be vindicated by the court as it has been previously."

The case is due to be heard before Judge Herman Cahn on 28 September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea