John Lennon and Rod Stewart feud: What happened between Beatles star and Sir Rod?
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John Lennon, along with Sir Paul McCartney, were the main songwriters in The Beatles. The Lennon-McCartney partnership was prolific and full of brilliant songs, while Sir Rod Stewart was also writing music of his own. Before he died, John spoke out about whether one song of Sir Rod’s was very familiar.
John Lennon has spoken about his song, Don’t Let Me Down, and suggested there are similarities in it to another song but Sir Rod Stewart: The Killing of Georgie.
Speaking to David Sheff alongside his wife Yoko Ono, he said: “By the way, Rod Stewart turned that [Don’t Let Me Down] into ‘[Georgie] don’t go-o-o.’
“That’s one the publishers never noticed.
“Why didn’t he just sing ‘Don’t Let Me Down’? The same reason I don’t sing other people’s stuff: because you don’t get paid.”
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Sir Rod did open up about this in 2016 to The Guardian, pretty much admitting to making something similar.
He said: “It does sound like it. Nothing wrong with a good steal!
“I’m sure if you look back to the 60s, you’d find other songs with those three chords and that melody line.”
Talking about the song itself, Sir Rod said: “I used to camp it up something terrible when we played the songs.
“We used to have a lamp post come down onto the stage. I’d lean on it and sing.
“I used to wear a lot of make-up in those days. All the guys around me used to say: ‘Ding-dong! Avon calling!’”
In terms of songs from The Beatles being nicked, Sir Paul McCartney didn’t seem to mind too much, and has spoken about it himself.
In fact, he spoke about using a similar bass line to Chuck Berry’s I’m Talking About you in their 1963 song I Saw Her Standing There.
He said: “I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fit our number perfectly.
“When I tell people about it, I find few of them believe me. It’s OK to steal a bass line.”
While he may have said that, Chuck’s publisher did, ironically, sue John over a line used in Come Together, which caused some problem.
In the same 1980 Playboy interview, John said of the song: “It’s one of my favourite Beatle tracks, or, one of my favourite Lennon tracks, let’s say that.
“It’s funky, it’s bluesy, and I’m singing it pretty well. I like the sound of the record. You can dance to it. I’ll buy it!”.
Chuck’s publisher sued John for the song having similarities to You Can’t Catch Me, and it was settled out of court, though part of the settlement is believed to have included John recording a version of You Can’t Catch Me on his 1975 album of cover versions, Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Sir Paul, in Barry Miles’ book Many Years From Now, claimed to have recognised the melody straight away, saying: “He originally brought it over as a very perky little song, and I pointed out to him that it was very similar to Chuck Berry’s You Can’t Catch Me.
“John acknowledged it was rather close to it so I said, ‘Well, anything you can do to get away from that.’
“I suggested that we tried it swampy – ‘swampy was the word I used – so we did, we took it right down. I laid that bass line down which very much makes the mood.
“It’s actually a bass line that people now use very often in rap records. If it’s not a sample, they use that riff. But that was my contribution to that.”
When it comes to Sir Rod and John, however, other than this comment about plagiarism there has not been much of a feud between them, and given John’s history with Chuck, it seems musicians borrow from each other often.
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