February 29, 2016


11 Famous Rock Songs You Didn't Know Were Sued for Plagiarism

Getty Images, 3
Getty Images, 3

Look, there are only so many musical notes, chords and riffs that a person can string together into a song. So over the course of decades, there's bound to be a little, er, borrowing here and there. Long before sampling made lawsuits the lingua franca that bonded so many disparate musicians together, artists were suing other musicians for plagiarism and copyright infringement. Lawsuits against hip hop groups are countless, but here are 11 rock groups who've been taken to court for plagiarism, from Radiohead to Coldplay to Avril Lavigne.

#1Gordon Jenkins' "Crescent City Blues" vs. Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"

Johnny Cash's reputation as an iconic songwriter, singer and performer remains unimpeachable, but he was forced to pay composer Gordon Jenkins $75,000 for using lyrics and melody from Jenkins' 1953 track "Crescent City Blues" (starts at 0:45 below) as the basis for his own 1955 song "Folsom Prison Blues." Cash changed the song's theme from a lonely woman looking to escape to a prison tale of murder, but the lyrics, including the classic opening lines, "I hear the train a-comin, it's rollin' 'round the bend" were similar enough to warrant a lawsuit. 

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