As they say, only in America. Land of the free and the litigious. We take a look at some of the most outrageous and ridiculous lawsuits in music brought on by the musicians, their labels, and a couple of bat shit crazy fans. Enjoy.
Mattel v. Aqua
Aqua gained much publicity with their 1997 hit Barbie Girl, unfortunately toy giants Mattel were also paying attention as the name of their corporate creation was being plastered about all over radio. They were less than impressed with Aqua’s use of one of their most iconic brands and attempted to sue. The case was promptly dismissed however; with the judge officially stating ‘the parties are advised to chill’.
Slipknot v. Burger King
The only band to ever wear masks, Slipknot, threatened to sue fast food giants Burger King, when the franchise released the ad ‘Coq Roq’ featuring heavy metal chickens donning masks in promotion of a new burger.
Burger King responded in their own legal fashion, demanding they be exempt from any lawsuits related to the ‘Coq Roq’ stating that the Coq Roq band was fictitious, visually and musically bore little resemblance to Slipknot's style, and at best was a general parody of heavy metal bands that wear masks or try to achieve a mask-like effect, such as Mushroomhead, KISS or GWAR. Both suits were eventually dropped.
Broken Home v Fantasia
In 2010, American Idol runner-up Fantasia was sued by the wife of her lover for being a ‘home wrecker’. ‘Alienation of affection’ was the exact complaint issued by the scornful wife, a law in the Southern states that allows spouses to sue the other women in an unwarranted love triangle. The judge eventually found in favour of Fantasia.
Dawn Simorangkir v Courtney Love the Twit
Serial trouble-starter Courtney Love became the first person to be sued for defamation due to Twitter posts, after she angered fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir, who only wanted payment over some clothing. Love proceeded to call a Simorangkir ‘drug-pushing prostitute’ amongst other things, and was promptly taken to court. Love ended up settling out of court for $430,000. That’s over $3000 a character!
John Fogerty v. John Fogerty
Technically a lawsuit against Creedence Clearwater Revival’s record company, but former front man John Fogerty was sued after the label claimed one of his solo songs sounded to similar to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Yes, he was essentially sued for sounding too much like himself. Fogerty took to the stand during the trial and played each song for the jury. He won, and in turn sued Creedence Clearwater Revival's management to recoup his legal fees; he won that case too.
The Rolling Stones v. Richard Ashcroft
‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ became the best song Richard Ashcroft never wrote when he was sued for writing credits by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger because the songs iconic violin melody was taken directly from The Rolling Stones 1965 song ‘The Last Time’. While still considered one of the best songs of all time, all royalties go to Jagger and Richards; I guess it really is a bitter-sweet symphony that’s life, eh?
Baltimore resident v. Ja Rule
Rapper Ja Rule was sued for $25,000 in 2004 after Baltimore resident Tony Veanie claimed a music video the rapper shot months earlier caused Veanie to be ‘threatened, shot at, and stabbed’. The music video was shot in the Baltimore neighbourhood that Veanie lived in as a tribute to one of Ja Rule’s friend who was killed in a local nightclub. Reps for Ja Rule’s label claimed Veanie was ‘ sick in the head’ .
Diddy v. Crazy New York Resident
A woman sued Diddy for a trillion dollars for knocking down the Twin Towers in New York City, no need to re-read that, it’s exactly what it sounds like. She also sued Puff for $900 billion in child support payments and another $100 billion for loss of income. Even with all that money, we don’t think she could afford the help she truly needs.
RIAA v. Larry Scantlebury
Larry Scantlebury, a Vietnam veteran who liked to read books in his spare time and spoil his wife and grandchildren, was sued by the RIAA for allegedly stealing their content. The case was drawn out so long that Scantlebury passed away before it had been settled. However, instead of just dropping the case, Warner’s representatives told the mourning family that they had 60 days to grieve, before they would alter the lawsuit and come after them instead! Real nice.
Disgruntled bandmate v Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson was sued by a bandmate for using their earnings to buy Nazi paraphernalia, African masks made of human skin, the full skeleton of a 4-year-old Chinese girl, and Dita Von Teese's $150,000 engagement ring. There’s always the insanity plea, right?
Photographer v. Odd Future
Constantly in the headlines for the wrong reason, Odd Future were at it again when member Left Brain was sued for assault by photographer Amy Harris. The former allegedly slapped the snapper during one of their shows in 2011, knocking her camera to the ground in the process. Harris was reluctant to push the case further until Odd Future representatives continued to refute the story. Angered by their denial Harris decided to make an example of them. The case is still ongoing.
Unmarried David Lee Roth v. Someone Who Wasn’t His Wife
Pennsylvania resident Jo Ann Fonzone sought to get herself "unchained" from Van Halen singer David Lee Roth by launching legal action in 2010. She claimed to have started a relationship with a man named Cary Woods and then ten years later, after allegedly bilking her of a $50-million line of credit, she found out that Woods was actually Roth, despite having been to a Van Halen concert in that time. She was found to be bat-shit crazy with a history of contentious litigation.
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