If you ever have a look at the writing credits of songs, you sometimes come across some strange “collaborations”. Interestingly though, they are not true collaborations but instead, have come about due to the composer “borrowing” (or ripping-off) someone elses song, resulting in the authorship being shared. Here we will take a look at 10 examples of unexpected writing collaborations!
‘All Shook Up’
Written by R’n’B star Otis ‘Bumps’ Blackwell, ‘All Shook Up’ was destined to become a huge hit for Elvis Presley. One year previous though, it had been covered by David Hall and the writing credits for it just named Blackwell. So how did Elvis Presley receive co-authorship of the song? Well, Colonel Tom Parker persuaded Blackwell to give Presley equal billing just for the honour of the King recording it.
‘Whole Lotta Love’
The song ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is, arguably, one of the most famous Led Zeppelins compositions. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed though that there was no such member called Dixon in the band. It all came down to an out-of-court settlement in 1987 which gave Willie Dixon a slice of the pie. It was due to the parallels between ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Dixon’s 1962 hit ‘You Need Love’.
Elastica had already settled out of court on two previous occasions due to the alleged ‘ripping-off’ of other peoples songs. When they were on the verge of releasing their album ‘Menace’ in 2000, the band decided to try and avoid a further court case by crediting most of this song to the band ‘Lowdown’. Done to avoid a court case but an admittance of guilt also.
Oasis are usually credited with being nothing more than Beatles wannabes, but it wasn’t the Beatles that they had ‘ripped-off’ with this song. The song ‘Step Out’ was originally meant to be on the album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory but, because of the threat of legal action for allegedly lifting parts of the Stevie Wonder song ‘Uptight’, it was dropped to a b-side so as not to lose too much money on it. Although, they still had to give over royalties and co-authorship.
If someone was to tell you that there were similarities between this song and the 1974 Hollies song ‘The Air That I Breathe’ it would be hard to hear them. No-one even thought there was a similarity between the two until Thom Yorke admitted that the two shared some common elements. The resulting lawsuit saw royalties and co-authorship granted to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood, who wrote the Hollies song.
The Verve wanted to sample an instrumental version of the Rolling Stones hit ‘The Last Time’ but were refused permission by Andrew Loog Oldham. Because of this, and the legal might of publisher Allen Klein, the Verve had to surrender full royalties and credit to the song ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (even though all lyrics and most of the music was written by lead-singer Richard Ashcroft).
The Rolling Stones
‘Anybody Seen My Baby’
Keith Richards’ daughter noticed similarities between this track and the KD Lang song ‘Constant Craving’. With the though of legal action being taken, the band decided to grant Lang and writing partner Ben Mink equal writing credits for this song. It was done before the track was released and avoided any legal action.
Chuck Berry wrote this song in its entirety, it was not a sample, it was not ‘ripped-off’ from some other source. The reason that two other names appeared on the writing credits was because, at the time, it was seen as a good thing to have other names on the writing credits. This meant DJ Alan Reed received co-authorship and so did Russ Fratto (who was the owner of the printing works that provided Chess Records with their labels and stationary).
No idea how the Beach Boys thought they would get away with this blatant rip-off of Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. The two songs are identical, musically. Chuck Berry was belatedly given co-authorship but received 100% of the royalties after the publishing watchdogs Broadcast Music International ruled the two songs were similar.
‘Roll With It’
This was another out-of-court deal brokered by the Broadcast Music International after they had noted the resemblance between this song and the 1965 Junior Walker hit ‘(I’m A) Road Runner.