NEW YORK - Prince's estate has moved to block the release of several decade-old tracks, casting a cloud over commemorations of the pop legend's passing.
An independent label had announced plans to release a six-track EP of Prince songs, entitled "Deliverance," on Friday, which marks one year since The Purple One's sudden death.
But Prince's estate, which is led by his siblings, quickly intervened and accused Ian Boxill, a sound engineer who recorded the tracks with the pop legend between 2006 and 2008, of violating an agreement.
"Mr Boxill is now trying to exploit the Prince recordings unlawfully in his possession," said a lawsuit filed in a Minnesota court.
If you buy this "Deliverance EP" you are helping Boxill violate Prince's wishes and legal agreement with Prince.— Rakabash (@Rakabash) April 19, 2017
The estate said Boxill had signed a confidentiality agreement that the music would "remain Prince's sole and exclusive property".
Boxill, who has worked with an array of artists including slain rap great Tupac Shakur, sent a reply that was sealed by the court.
Here's a letter from attorney outlining Prince engineer Ian Boxill's claim to "undiscovered" Prince tracks: https://t.co/LFwHIR10xy— Tim Nelson (@timnelson_mpr) April 19, 2017
In a statement announcing the music, Boxill said most proceeds would go to Prince's estate and that the pop legend would have appreciated the independent release.
"I believe 'Deliverance' is a timely release with everything going on in the world today, and in light of the one-year anniversary of his passing," he said in the statement.
The first track, a rock ballad also called "Deliverance", came out late on Tuesday, with the five other songs scheduled to be released digitally on Friday.
Boxill said a CD release was planned for June.
Prince died on 21 April last year at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota from an accidental overdose of powerful painkillers.
The 57-year-old -- long considered a model of health who refrained from drugs, alcohol and junk food -- died without leaving a will, setting off messy court disputes over the fate of his fortune.