According to a recent report in Rolling Stone, Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck’s new song “Sad Motherf*ckin’ Parade” from their new album “18” contains lyrics that are remarkably similar to “Hobo Ben,” but they have not credited Slim Wilson or Bruce Jackson. In the music scene, plagiarism has been a recurring topic of discussion for decades. Bruce Springsteen was accused of ripping off KISS, Nikki Sixx was accused of copying Guns N’ Roses, and Nirvana was accused of stealing a Sex Pistols album title. However, the circumstances of Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck appear to be somewhat distinct.
Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp have been criticized for failing to properly credit the author of their new song “Sad Motherf*cking Parade.” Rolling Stone drew readers’ attention to the number of lyrics that imitated the ‘Hobo Ben’ spoken word poem. Slim Wilson, an incarcerated armed robber and murderer, recited the poem. This poem appeared in the 1974 publication Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: African-American Narrative Poetry from the Oral Tradition. Bruce Jackson himself is the author of the book. Bruce Jackson stated that in his fifty years in the industry, he had never witnessed so much plagiarism. He added that the poem’s version by Slim differs by only two lines. According to him, Depp and Beck renamed the composition without crediting him or Slim Wilson.
Michael Lee Jackson, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and music, emphasized that this is unacceptable. According to him, these words could not have been written without reference to his father’s records or the book in which they appeared. Bruce Jackson on Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck’s alleged plagiarism of “Hobo Ben” lyrics: “The only two lines I could find that [Depp and Beck] contributed to the entire piece were ‘Big time motherf*cker’ and ‘Bring it down to my level.’ In my opinion, everything else stems from Slim’s performance. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’ve been publishing material for fifty years, and this is the first time someone has stolen my work and taken credit for it. Michael Lee Jackson’s words regarding the theft of his father’s lyrics:
“They do not accurately represent the actual authorship of these lyrics. It is implausible, in my opinion, that Johnny Depp or anyone else could have sat down and composed those lyrics without almost entirely lifting them from a version of my father’s recording or book in which they appeared.” Below, you can listen to “Sad Motherf*ckin Parade.”
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