Top 10 Songs Involved in Lawsuits
The Top Ten
Chuck Berry's publisher sued after John Lennon lifted the opening phrase "Here come old flat top" from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me". Part of the deal was that Lennon would record three of their songs, including "You Can't Catch Me" on his next album, which he eventually did on the album Rock 'n' Roll. - Gg2000
The melody and the opening line "I hear that train a-comin'/It's rollin' round the bend" were taken from a song called Crescent City Blues by Gordon Jenkins. Jenkins received a $75,000 settlement after he sued. - Gg2000
Judas Priest was sued by the parents of two boys who made a suicide pact while listening to the song. They alleged the song “had subliminal backtrack messages that encouraged the kids to commit suicide”
The most frivolous and petty lawsuit in music history. The same guy wrote the two damn songs, of course they sound similar! - truckturner
This song is famous for a lawsuit where John Fogerty was sued for sounding too much like... himself. Fogerty was sued by Fantasy Records (his former label) because the song sounded too much like CCR's Run Through The Jungle (they acquired the rights to the CCR catalogue as part of John Fogerty's deal for getting out of his record contract). Luckily, John proved to the court that the two songs were not identical (if anyone would know, it would be him! ) and he successfully countersued for attorney fees. - Gg2000
Similar to the Judas Priest case, a depressed teenager named John McCollum committed suicide in October 1984. His parents sued Ozzy and the label, CBS Records, claiming that "Suicide Solution" influenced his actions. Ozzy denied that the song promoted suicide, stating that the song was partially inspired by the death of Bon Scott from AC/DC. Ultimately, the court ruled in Ozzy's favor, citing that the First Amendment protected his right to freedom of artistic expression. - Gg2000
Joe Satriani sued Coldplay, alleging their song ‘Viva la Vida’ ripped off his song ‘If I could Fly’, citing similar chords and progression. His lawsuit was dropped in 2009 after Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Car Stevens, claimed that both songs sounded like his ‘Foreigner Suite’.
Nirvana was unsure about adding ‘Come As You Are’ to Nevermind, citing the similarities between it and ‘Eighties’ by Killing Joke. However, they wound up adding it to their massively successful 1991 album.
Killing Joke quickly filed a lawsuit against the Grunge icons.
The suit was dropped after Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide by Killing Joke to relieve Dave Grohl and Krist Noveselic of further grief.
Dave would later collaborate with Killing Joke on their 2003 self titled album.
Later on, both songs would go on to be compared to ‘Life Goes on’, a 1981 song by post-punk group the Damned, though no suit was ever brought up.
Apparently, he unconsciously plagiarized the chorus from the song "Taj Mahal" by Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor after hearing it while in Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval. He got sued for it, and Jorge Ben Jor won. - Gg2000
This song, although credited to the members of ZZ Top, was originally written and performed by a Texas band called The Nightcaps. The Nightcaps themselves attempted to sue, but since they never registered the original recording for copyright, the suit was dropped, and ZZ Top got off scot free. - Gg2000
Sued for using the same main chord progression as Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On". I'm not sure how this one turned out. - Gg2000
Similar to the Come Together incident, they were sued by Arc Music for ripping off Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen. They gave the copyright (lyrics and all) to Arc Music. - Gg2000
They were sued by the writers of I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (the Coca-Cola song); when asked about it afterwards, Noel Gallagher allegedly joked, "Now we all drink Pepsi". - Gg2000
Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. for ripping off his song "I Want a New Drug". They confidentially settled it out of court, but Ray Parker sued Huey after Huey broke the confidentiality agreement by talking about the lawsuit on VH1's Behind the Music. - Gg2000
George Harrison was sued for allegedly ripping off the song "He's so Fine" by the girl group The Chiffons. The end result was that he bought the publishing company, Bright Tunes, from Allen Klein (his former manager) for the same amount that Klein bought it for during the lawsuit. One of George's tunes, "This Song", was written about his frustration over the lawsuit. - Gg2000