Monday, March 29, 2010
WRITE A HIT SONG RISK A LAWSUIT
On this day in 1983, the Bee Gees were sued for plagiarism over their hit song : "How Deep Is Your Love. The lesson the group learned is the same lesson that every song writer risks "Write A Hit Song, Risk a Lawsuit". A musicologist is the only answer.
I n case you've been living under a rock for the last forty years, How Deep Is Your Love" is a song recorded by the Bee Gees in 1977. Originally intended for Yvonne Elliman, it was ultimately used as part of the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. It was a number three hit in the UK. In the U.S., it topped the Billboard Hot 100 on 24 December 1977 and stayed in the Top 10 for a then-record 17 weeks. The song also spent six weeks atop the U.S. adult contemporary chart. The song was ranked #366 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Along with "Stayin' Alive", it is one of the group's two songs on the list. The song also lists at #20 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. It was famously covered by Take That for their 1996 Greatest Hits album, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. In 1983, The Bee Gees were sued by an amateur Chicago songwriter, Ronald Selle, who claimed that the Gibb brothers stole melodic material from one of his songs, "Let It End," and used it in "How Deep Is Your Love." At first, The Bee Gees lost the case; one juror said that a factor in the jury's decision was the Gibbs' failure to introduce expert testimony rebutting the plaintiff's expert testimony that it was "impossible" for the two songs to have been written independently. However, the verdict was overturned a few months later. Two music videos were made for this song. In one, the brothers are singing while an image of a woman shows throughout the video. Barry Gibb had his beard shaven off in this video, as in the "Night Fever" video. A second video was later made in which the brothers sing while passing by a stream of rainbow lights. In this video Barry Gibb is bearded. This video righted the wrong and proved that the two songs could have been created independently of the other. What had gone badly for the boys in the trial was that Barry Gibb identified Ronald Selle's tune as their own at the trail. Had they lost, the Brothers place in music history might have been put in serious jeopardy. The Spring Break crowds continue unabated at Disneyland where I am working. There is just no let up on the crowds with most of the popular rides demanding a two hour wait. Glad I only work here for now. John and I have finished the libretto to the sequel to "The Brothers Laughter" . It is called "After The Laughter" It's pretty darn funny!