Cooley did not respond to emails and voicemails asking her to comment on this story. This story will be updated if it contacts Billboard after publication.
From 1985 to 1987, Klymaxx scored five Billboard Hot 100 hits, including “I Miss You”, which reached No.5 on the charts; “Meeting in the ladies’ room”; and “Love the size of man”. By the end of 1988, Cooper, Malsby and bassist, singer and producer Joyce “Fenderella” Irby had left the band, leaving Cooley, Stewart and keyboardist Robbin Grider to record the band’s last album, The Maxx is back, released in 1990.
In the early 2000s, Cooley fell out with her former bandmates when she unsuccessfully attempted to register the Klymaxx brand for its sole use – beef that was mentioned in a 2004 VH1. Reunited groups episode. The Truth in Music Advertising Act allows original members of a band to tour using the band’s brand if the individual’s name is also displayed – such as Klymaxx with Cheryl Cooley – but Cooper alleges that Cooley did not comply with this legislation. (Cooper and Irby also perform live using the tag “Klymaxx featuring”.)
More recently, Cooper and Malsby allege that Cooley has more than once succeeded in changing writing credits and publishing shares in ASCAP’s database, including those of Sony Music Publishing, which administers the edition of the original group.
Cooper and Malsby shared record label photographs of their original albums and singles, which do not credit Cooley, and ASCAP Repertory Search database screenshots of those same songs that list her as a writer and The Klymaxx Corporation as publisher, including “The Men All Pause”, “Meet in the Ladies Room”, “Girls Will Be Girls” and “Love the Man’s Size”. The songwriters of these last two tracks were not band members but Otis Stokes and Rod Temperton, respectively.
They also shared correspondence with ASCAP and Sony Music Publishing in which they and other original band members sought to have the song’s credits corrected.
In an August 7, 2020 email to Jen Gobeille, associate director of the North American Copyright Administration at Sony Music Publishing, Irby forwarded a screenshot of songs, writing: “Cheryl Cooley n ‘wrote no part of these songs and does not own any publications on these songs. ” She added: “ASCAP needs to get to work. Not only did Cooley steal a large chunk of my stock, Lynn and Bernadette’s, but she also removed the names of other legitimate co-authors. ASCAP also failed to list the “depositor” in the “Details” section, which of course refers directly to Cheryl Cooley, or those acting on her behalf. “
After the credits were corrected, Malsby emailed Gobeille on June 2, noting that Cooley “for the second time in 18 months entered the rosters at ASCAP and changed songwriters’ credits. ET has changed the post credits on most, if not all of our old material – – some of which is still on the air, most of which she had no writing involvement to begin with. “
In an email dated June 8, ASCAP Global Copyright Team Leader – Directory Zach Horwitz responded, “I spoke with Ms. Cooley’s representative last week and advised her to no longer submit registration to ASCAP without the appropriate documentation.
When asked to respond, a representative from ASCAP said the performing rights organization does not comment on questions between members. At the time of publication, a representative from Sony Music Publishing had not responded to emails seeking comment.
Cooper and his other bandmates first learned of the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony – set to be hosted by Jody Watley at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington – when Billboard posted a story stating that the group was among the winners. (Roberta Flack, Valerie Simpson, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Deniece Williams are also among the inductees, according to a press release issued by the organization.)
When Malsby emailed the organization on behalf of the original members for more information on the induction ceremony, she received no response. But while browsing the WSH0F website, they saw that a photo from Cooley’s Klymaxx line was used along with the group’s bio. They requested that the photo be replaced with a photo of the original group. It was, but a button to browse the Klymaxx song catalog links to Cooley’s Klymaxx website.
Although they provided documents about their songwriting credit dispute with Cooley at the Hall of Fame and exchanged emails with WSHoF Founder / President / CEO Janice McLean DeLoatch, Cooper and Malsby say DeLoatch never contacted them. They add that they feel like Cooley’s group will always be inducted. DeLoatch did not respond to emails seeking comment for this story.
“After we gave them receipts, the last Hall of Fame word was, ‘If you decide to come, we’ll let everyone know you’re in the audience,” said Stewart.
Cooper says that she, Grider, Irby, Malsby and Stewart will not be attending the induction ceremony. She also says that while they will continue to control their songwriting credits and publishing actions, they don’t plan to sue Cooley because the legal fees would exceed the royalties they could have lost.
They issued a joint statement, which says, in part, that as a group of young women who “went on to become successful songwriters who produced their own music,” the members of Klymaxx were “trailblazers” who inspired young girls who saw their own image and likeness playing instruments in this still male dominated industry. The statement concludes: “Appropriate recognition would have been heartwarming. “