Dolly Parton's sister says she'll sue Irish promoter
Published 28/12/2011 | 05:00
THE sister of singing star Dolly Parton is set to take legal action against an Irish concert promoter.
Stella Parton has said she intends to take action when she is next in Ireland, alleging that James McGarrity promoted an event by falsely claiming she would appear in Ireland -- later saying she had pulled out because of bad weather.
Mr McGarrity's company, JW Promotions, was wound up for non-payment of debts earlier this month, but the Irish Independent can reveal that he is already back promoting another country music festival to be held next year in Donegal.
The Northern Ireland-based impresario has had a difficult year, being hit with a €80,000 libel bill after he lost a case in November that had been taken by country star Johnny McEvoy.
Mr McEvoy had been horrified at being falsely included as a performer for a concert promoted by Mr McGarrity.
The singer's manager was also awarded €100,000 in the same case.
Now Nashville singer Stella Parton has revealed that she is also furious at Mr McGarrity for falsely claiming that she would take part in a 'Grand Ladies of Country' concert tour in Ireland last year.
Ms Parton said she had discussed appearing in the concert series with Mr McGarrity but when no contract or deposit had materialised six weeks beforehand, she told him she would not be taking part and instructed him to take her name off all promotional material.
Ms Parton said he continued to advertise that she would take part and then informed concert-goers she was "snowed in" at various locations to explain her non-appearance.
"I would never agree to take part in a concert and then not turn up, I have never even been late for a show. I would not let my fans down in that way," she told this newspaper.
Stella Parton (62) is the younger sister of country music icon Dolly Parton, and musician and businessman Randy Parton.
Her friend, the country legend Billie Jo Spears, was still owed over $35,000 (€27,000) by Mr McGarrity for the same concert tour when she passed away earlier this month.
Ms Spears, who shot to worldwide fame with her song 'Blanket On The Ground' in the 1970s, had suffered considerable financial distress towards the end of her life.
Her solicitor Richard Smith said that despite Mr McGarrity agreeing a payment plan for the outstanding sum, no money had ever been handed over and that they were preparing to take court action in Tennessee when Ms Spears finally lost her battle with cancer.
Mr McGarrity's company was wound up in Belfast High Court on December 7, following a petition taken by another Nashville record label, River Run Records, over his failure to pay €15,000 owed to them.
Mr McGarrity, who is based in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, spoke outside the court of his sadness at what had happened and went on to blame the tough economic climate.
"Selling tickets for concerts is hard at the minute. People don't have the money to go out -- they are worried about their mortgages, never mind going to concerts," he said at the time.
However, the setback hasn't stopped him plying his trade.
Just two days later, he posted a "newsflash" on his website www.jwpromos.com with details of his CountryFest 5 festival to be held in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, next summer.
Tickets for the event, priced from €36.20 to €65, are available on Ticketmaster and the promoter claimed on his website to be "thrilled with current sales".
Mr McGarrity is also promoting his own wedding band, Jokers Wild.
His website boasts: "Established for close to a decade JW Group are now regarded as one of Ireland's top entertainment companies."
Mr McGarrity declined to comment in relation to Stella Parton's allegations, his dealings with the late Ms Spears or his current business situation.
Stella Parton became a mildly successful country singer in the 1970s. Although she had nowhere near the success of her elder sister, she sold her fair share of records.
Her career has brought her 27 chart singles, including a top-ten hit, 19 albums and worldwide honours from New Zealand to Nashville, Tennessee.
Her biggest hit was the 1975 song "I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight".
She devotes much of her time to causes such as domestic violence and poverty in the Appalachian region of the US.