Today, let’s explore what has to be the most fundamentally ridiculous lawsuit ever launched in music history.
In 1985 John Fogerty signed to Warner Bros and released the album Centrefield, which featured two top ten singles. The second of these — ‘The Old Man Down The Road’ — was classic Fogerty, with that grizzly bayou sound. Unfortunately, the boss of Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz, thought it was a little too ‘classic Fogerty’, claiming the song was a direct rip of the Credence Clearwater Revival song ‘Run Through The Jungle’.
Now, let’s make it clear that both songs were written by the same songwriter.
CCR are many things, but variety is not their strong suit. It stands to reason that Fogerty’s solo work would have a similar sound. Despite this, Zaentz — who owned the rights to those early Credence songs — decided he had a plagiarism case on his hands and decided to sue Fogerty for ripping off a Fogerty song. Yup.
Fogerty’s was the most rock and roll defense imaginable; he brought his guitar into the courtroom and played both songs back to back, demonstrating the key differences.
He won the case, and even managed to counter-sue for his legal fees; he initial lost this counter-suit, but this was overturned in the Supreme Court.
Artists have been repeating themselves ever since.
Check out the two songs below.