In 2013, fans of "TiK ToK" singer Kesha rallied together to start the Free Kesha movement. Through social media posts, as well as in an online petition, they asked that Kesha and Dr. Luke's professional relationship be dissolved, saying he was controlling her "like a puppet."
The following year, the pop songstress took her own legal action and filed a suit against Dr. Luke, asking that her contract with him and his business subsidiaries become void. That very same day, Dr. Luke dismissed everything she said and responded with a countersuit.
So, did Kesha ever break free from Dr. Luke? Not exactly. Here’s a rundown of everything that has happened between Kesha and Dr. Luke.
Who is Dr. Luke and what is his relationship with Kesha?
Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, is an American record producer and songwriter. He got his start in music in 1997 when he joined Saturday Night Live as its house band's lead guitarist. In the early 2000s, he started collaborating with some big-name artists like Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Katy Perry.
In 2005, Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Serbert, met Dr. Luke and began working with him.
After a few years of artist development, he scored Kesha her first hit as a featured artist on Flo Rida’s “Right Round," which he produced and co-wrote. Not too long after that, Kesha released her first debut single, "TiK ToK," which was the best-selling single in 2011, according to the IFPI Digital Music Report.
That year, Dr. Luke also officially founded his own record label, Kemosabe Records, which was owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Kesha was signed under Kemosabe Records.
In 2012 and 2013, she continued to see immense success with her albums "Cannibal" and "Warrior." But despite everything she had going for her, she was struggling with food. "I'll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder ... to learn to love myself again, exactly as I am," she told Us Weekly in January 2014.
On Oct. 14, 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke in California.
Kesha was released from rehab in March 2014. On Oct. 14, 2014, she dropped the bombshell lawsuit against Dr. Luke in California. The lawsuit alleged that "for the past ten years, Dr. Luke has sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused Ms. Serbert to the point where Ms. Serbert nearly lost her life. Dr. Luke abused Ms. Serbert in order to destroy her self-confidence, self-image, and self-worth, so he could maintain complete control over life and career."
In the suit, she also accused Dr. Luke of fat-shaming her, as well as raping her at a party in 2005. Kesha claimed that he had given gave her a "sober pill" that night. However, she believed it was a form of a date-rape drug. After becoming unconscious, she claimed that Dr. Luke raped her in his hotel room.
On Oct. 14, 2014, Dr. Luke filed a defamation suit against Kesha in New York.
A few hours after Kesha filed her suit in California, Dr. Luke responded by countersuing her in New York. This created two different lawsuits.
For a while, there wasn't any movement on either case. But in 2015, Kesha, who was desperate to get out of her contract, asked the court for a preliminary injunction, per Buzzfeed News,. If granted, she would be allowed to exit her Kemosabe deal and sign with another label as the rest of the legal dispute continued.
In February 2016, a judge denied Kesha’s preliminary injunction to be released from her recording contract.
On Feb. 19, 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha’s preliminary injunction to be released from her recording contract, per ABC News. However, Judge Kornreich did not make a decision regarding Kesha's claims of rape and abuse against Dr. Luke.
Days after the ruling, Dr. Luke took to Twitter and wrote the following: "I didn't rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister."
In August of that year, Kesha dropped her initial lawsuit against Dr. Luke in California. However, the New York case still remained active. In January 2017, both sides asked to amend their claims and introduce new evidence.
In Dr. Luke's amended claim, he asserted that Kesha was sending Lady Gaga text messages about how he had raped her. Dr. Luke also noted that Kesha had brought up Katy Perry in the conservation, who Kesha believed was also sexually assaulted by him. Dr. Luke argued that the texts to the "Just Dance" singer were further instances of defamation. This dragged Lady Gaga and Katy Perry into the case.
In 2018, Katy Perry clarified in a deposition that Dr. Luke never subjected her to abuse, according to court documents obtained by The Blast. But Lady Gaga continued to defend Kesha, as noted by different court documents obtained by The Blast.
However, because Lady Gaga was not actually at the party in 2005, there was no factual evidence that the court could use.
According to the New York Times, in February 2020, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jennifer G. Schecter ruled that Kesha’s comments to Lady Gaga regarding Katy Perry were false and defamatory.
At the time, Judge Schecter wrote: "This court cannot decide, as a matter of law on papers and without any assessment of credibility, who should be believed." She also could not make a decision on whether Kesha filed her original suit "in good faith or as a sham to defame Gottwald and obtain business leverage." The judge added: "that decision is for the jury."
A trial date has not been set for that yet.
In March 2022, a judge ruled that Dr. Luke could not be held responsible for Kesha's lawyer fees, even if he loses the case.
Per Page Six, a New York judge ruled on March 10, 2022, that Kesha would also not be able to recoup the legal fees for her court battle from Dr. Luke — even if she wins the case.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more in this ongoing trial.