There are a finite number of notes and chord progressions, and even lyrics that can be put together in a finite number of ways. With all of the music out there on the market, there are bound to be some similarities. Sometimes, however, those similarities are just a bit too striking. Here are a few songs that were actually taken to court for this reason.
- The Beatles “Come Together” Even the world’s most famous band has been accused of plagiarism. The Beatles were always big fans of Chuck Berry, so it must have come as a surprise when Berry’s publisher sued them for copyright infringement of the song “You Can’t Catch Me” due to similar bass riffs and the lyrics “here come ol’ flat top.”
- George Harrison “My Sweet Lord” Harrison, a former Beatle, had been a fan of that Motown sound – perhaps so much so that one of his most popular songs, “My Sweet Lord” was accused of sounding almost identical “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons.
- Radiohead “Creep” Radiohead’s breakout hit credits the Hollies’ Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood because of similar chord progressions and analogous bridge lyrics to “The Air That I Breathe.”
- Ray Parker Jr “Ghostbusters Theme” Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. because of the likeness to his “I Want a New Drug.” Parker’s song went on to be vastly more popular in the end. Possibly because Parker Jr. “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
- Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” Considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, even Stairway to Heaven isn’t without its controversy. The estate of Spirit’s late Randy Wolfe sued Zeppelin for copyright infringement claiming that Zeppelin borrowed heavily from their song “Taurus.” Zeppelin won the case in the end.
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