Rip this joint

There are only 12 notes in a scale.  In western music anyway.

So I guess it’s bound to happen.  Rip offs.

Whether they are accidental, unconscious, or complete plagiarism they are out there.

Perhaps the most famous (since it went to court) was the “My Sweet Lord” / “He’s so fine” case.  Harrison said if he ripped it off, it was completely subconsciously.

And, yes, I hear the similarities, but I never thought it should have gotten the press it did.  The production of the songs was so different.  But the melody line was pretty close.  Even along with the answer melody (Harrison’s “Hallelujah” and the  Chiffon’s “Do-lang do-lang”)

But there are worse offenders.  Some get busted, some raise eyebrows, some go  sort of unnoticed.

The Beach Boys COMPLETELY ripped off Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with their song, “Surfing USA”.  They gave him no credit until Berry confronted them.  Then they handed over the entire copyright of the song to Berry.  He still owns it today.

In 1984 Huey Lewis was approached by producers to write a theme for a movie called “Ghostbusters”.  He declined because he was working on his own album, and was doing the music for another film, “Back to the Future”.

The song went to Ray Parker Jr.

When Lewis heard the song he immediately sued because “Ghostbusters” was a direct rip off of “I want a new Drug”.  They settled out of court.

And remember Vanilla Ice trying to say  “Ice, Ice, Baby” wasn’t a rip off of the Queen/ David Bowie tune “Under Pressure?”  He lost.

The most bizarre was John Fogerty being sued for plagiarizing himself.  He didn’t own the rights to his old Creedence catalog, so the publishers who DID sued him for “Old Man down the Road” being a rip off of  his own song “Run Through The Jungle”  He actually lost the case.

Prince ripped himself off.  But he owned his stuff, so…

Listen to the melody line of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles (Prince wrote it) then listen again to 1999.  See?

And there are some questionable ones.  Led Zeppelin has had a reputation of “borrowing” riffs and  some melodies.

If you don’t believe me listen to “Stairway to Heaven”, then YouTube “Taurus” by a band called Spirit.  Hmmmm.

And what about Jet’s “Are you gonna be my girl” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for life”.  Similar?

Even Andrew Lloyd Webber borrowed his “Phantom of the Opera” theme from Pink Floyd’s “Echo’s”

And I always thought Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” (great song) was just “Let it Be”  Really really slow.  Sing along with it next time you hear, you’ll see what I mean.

What about you?  Ever noticed something that’s just a little too similar to something else?

They don't look the same....


7 responses

  1. pablo cruise – a place in the sun
    grand funk r.r. – closer to home
    steve miller – the stake
    joe walsh – rocky mountain way

    May 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

  2. Shawn Ryan

    OK, this one is a bit esoteric, but I swear the “funky” guitar line on Styx’s “Renegade” is a cop from Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Underfoot.”

    May 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    • Wow, never noticed the Styx/Zep similarity before, but now that you mention it, it’s so obvious I feel stupid!

      Ever notice how much Motley Crue’s “Unskinny Bop” resembles Lynryd Skynyrd’s “I Know a Little”?

      May 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

  3. Janet Jackson had a song in the late 80’s, “Let’s Wait Awhile” that was a complete ripoff of America’s “Daisy Jane”. “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay is a terrible ripoff of a Joe Satriani tune “Learning to Fly”… virtually note for note.
    And Cat Steven’s “Father to Son” was stolen by some group in the 90’s…the Pixies? Can’t remember, but it was a dead-on copy! They late admitted it and signed over copyright.
    In the case of the Stones and “Anybody Seen My Baby”, Keith Richards admits his daughter walked into the house singing the group’s new song, but with different lyrics: “Constant Craving”. They realized they’d stolen from K.D. Lang and gave her credit on the tune!

    May 14, 2011 at 2:41 am

  4. George A. Martin

    Was the last half of “Let It Be” written before Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity” or the other way round? They sure do sound the same.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

  5. Tres

    What about Blues Traveler’s “Hook” — it is just Pachelbell’s famous “Canon” with a different syncopation.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

  6. Tres

    Musicians regularly lift melody lines from other songs for soloing — the most famous example is of course, Eric Clapton using “Blue Moon” to start off his solo on “Sunshine of Your Love.”

    June 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm

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