Four months ago I wrote a series of posts about the latest inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I considered the idea of covering each new slate of entries working backward through the years.
This week, I’m taking my own advice and posting about the six inductees into the Rock Hall Class of 2018.
First up (alphabetically) is Bon Jovi.
It seems like Justin Bieber has been a thing forever now, but 2019 marks only the 9-year anniversary of his debut album, My World 2.0 (he had released an EP titled My World a year earlier).
In fact, my Song of the Day blog is older than Justin Bieber’s recording career, which probably says more about how long I’ve been doing this than it does about the Biebs.
My final example of (alleged) musical copyright infringement is the curious case of John Fogerty’s ‘The Old Man Down the Road,’ a song he was accused of stealing from… himself.
Fogerty, the lead singer and principal songwriter of Creedence Clearwater Revival, had an acrimonious break-up with the band in 1972 before going solo. He was still tied to a shit-show of a contract with Fantasy Records. His first solo album underperformed, which Fogerty blamed on Fantasy’s lackluster promotion, and he refused to record anything new. Fantasy sued him.
Here’s a copyright infringement tale that goes a few layers deep, and one I think is a neat illustration of how similar elements can lead to completely different songs.
In 1972, singer-songwriter Albert Hammond released the song ‘The Air That I Breathe’ on his album It Never Rains in Southern California (the title track of which is his best-known hit). He wrote the song, which is embedded below as today’s SOTD, with Mike Hazelwood.
Another famous copyright infringement case is far less clear-cut and far more troubling than the ‘My Sweet Lord’ example — the claim that Robin Thicke’s 2013 ‘Blurred Lines’ borrows too heavily from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’
The backstory here is a strange one, and one with a lot of potential to shake up the music industry. That’s because ‘Blurred Lines’ didn’t copy the melody of the Gaye song or sample it directly, but rather mirrored the general mood and feel of the track.
The most famous case of musical copyright infringement is likely George Harrison’s lifting the melody of The Chiffon’s 1963 track ‘He’s So Fine’ for his biggest hit, 1970’s ‘My Sweet Lord.’
‘He’s So Fine’ was a major hit in its day, one Harrison admitted to knowing though he denied copying it on purpose. After a lengthy period of litigation, a judge declared “it is clear that ‘My Sweet Lord’ is the very same song as ‘He’s So Fine’ with different words” and found Harrison liable even if the theft was “subconsciously accomplished.”
A couple of weeks ago, a federal jury decided that Katy Perry copied the track ‘Joyful Noise’ by Christian rapper Flame when writing her hit ‘Dark Horse.’
The jury assessed damages of $2.78 million to be paid by Perry and ‘Dark Horse’s other songwriters.
Perry will certainly appeal, but the outcome of this lawsuit is scary for anybody who writes and records music for a living.