Pop singer Lady Gaga’s former lover, producer Rob Fusari, is suing the “Telephone” singer, claiming that he discovered her and two of her companies owes him more than $30 million after he came up with the name “Lady Gaga” and co-write her hit single “Paparazzi” and another song called “Disco Heaven.”
“It’s an age-old story in the music business,” said Robert Meloni, a lawyer for Fusari. “You become famous and you turn on the person who discovered you.” The wild-styled singer, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, was introduced to Fusari in March 2006 by a singer who knew he was looking for a female rocker with “garage band chops.” Wendy Starland put Germanotta on the phone with Fusari after seeing her perform at The Cutting Room because she fit his vision for “an all-girl version of The Strokes,” the suit says. Within a day, Germanotta was on a bus from the Port Authority terminal to Fusari’s 150 Studios in Parsippany, N.J.
“Fusari was expecting someone a little more grunge-rocker than the young Italian girl ‘guidette’ that arrived at his doorstep and was worried that he had made a mistake,” the suit says. “Fusari then asked her to play one of her songs on the studio piano and within seconds realized that Germanotta had star potential. The trick would be coaxing it out of her.” The producer, who collaborated with Destiny’s Child on “Bootylicious” and with Will Smith on “Wild Wild,” contends he reshaped Germanotta’s song-writing skills and convinced her to add dance beats to her songs. He also came up with the unique Lady Gaga name after playing Queen’s “Radio Gaga” for her daily when she entered the studio.
“One day when Fusari addressed a cell phone text to Germanotta under the moniker ‘Radio Gaga’ his cell phone’s spell check converted ‘Radio’ to ‘Lady’,” the suit says. “Germanotta loved it and ‘Lady Gaga’ was born.” Fusari is seeking a 20% cut from a 2006 contract he says he signed with Gaga’s Team Love Child and Mermaid Music. “Would she have found another Rob Fusari? Maybe,” Meloni said. “Would she just have gone on to playing in small clubs? Maybe. But the fact is that he brought her to a certain level.” A representative for Lady Gaga, a dropout from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, declined comment. Fusari and Germanotta were at one time romantically linked, but broke up in January 2007, the suit says. In the introduction to the court papers, Fusari casts Lady Gaga as “a woman scorned.”
“All business is personal,” the suit says. “When those personal relationships evolve into romantic entanglements, any corresponding business relationship usually follows the same trajectory so that when one crashes they all burn. This is what happened here.”