Let’s Get Litigious!

johnfogertyHello, and welcome to a new feature on Rocknuts! The history of rock music is littered with many things. Some examples are causalities, drugs and actual litter. Another thing that occurs fairly regularly in this world is good ol’ fashioned litigation. You need to resolve a problem? There’s always a court of law. Only the power of the U.S. Judicial system will provide you with satisfaction. Blind and horse-faced Lady Justice has just the salve for your metaphorical (and sometimes literal) wounds. Here’s a look at some seminal court cases in rock history.

Today’s Episode:

“The Time John Fogerty Was Accused of Plagiarizing Himself”

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“Lookin’ Out My Back Door (Because Someone is Plagiarizing Me)

You may know John Fogerty as the primary singer/songwriter behind literally all of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hits. He is pictured here:


If you don’t know who this is, I strongly encourage you to visit Rocknuts.com. Again, this is a site for gem and rock enthusiasts.

In 1970, Fogerty wrote the song “Run Through the Jungle.” Heard of it? Me too. It’s one of several dozen classic Creedence songs. As many an artist did back when record companies actually mattered, Fogerty presumably signed some sort of contract that awarded Fantasy records the exclusive rights to his music. It’s the sort of deal you make because record companies have wide distribution, and can presumably help you reach a wider audience. I know. It seems laughable today.

In 1972, Creedence broke up. John Fogerty, of course, had a very successful solo career. In 1985, Fogerty recorded “The Old Man Down the Road.” In the intervening years, Fogerty had left the Fantasy label and signed with the much more high-profile Warner Brothers. “Old Man” was released on the WB label, and Fantasy sued John Fogerty for copying himself.

Can we all pause and ponder the insanity of this?

Also the massive, gas-giant-sized balls of these Fantasy lawyers. It’s hard to say whether the insanity or the balls know more depth.

According to Fantasy, “Old Man” was so substantially similar to “Run Through the Jungle” that it warranted a claim of copyright infringement. You know, infringing the copyright of the song that he had written 15 years earlier. Eventually, this was settled by Federal Court in San Francisco. A jury found that Fogerty had not, in fact, ripped off his own song. The case actually made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for an objectively boring reason* but simply has to be the only time a major witness has brought a guitar to the stand with him. Except, of course, for the trial of the Menendez Brothers. Man, could that Lyle flamenco.

Here are the two songs, side by side. You make the call.

But not literally. This was decided 28 years ago.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough that you are not a Federal Judge.


*The issue had to do with attorney’s fees. Seriously, you can read about it if you want.



See you next time!

Photo Credit: By SolarScott – https://www.flickr.com/photos/solarscott1955/10936264725, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37731937

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