A famous case is a judgment against George Harrison for his song “My Sweet Lord,” which was held to be a copy of the Chiffon’s 1963 hit “He’s So Fine.”
When you compare the two, you know the reason behind the judgment.
In 1955, Johnny Cash recorded one of his early compositions for the first time. He wrote it while in the Air Force while serving in Germany. The song, Folsom Prison Blues, was a hit twice for him. It hit number 4 on the country charts in 1956, and a live version, recorded at San Quentin Prison, hit number 1 on the country charts in 1968.
Gordon Jenkins was an arranger of popular music starting in the 1930’s. I guess he was not a big fan of country music, because he did not hear of Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash until after the 1968 version was a hit. Mr. Jenkins was not very pleased.
Imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery. The Beatles song “Ticket To Ride” was released on April 19, 1965 (and went on to be a number one record in May).
Brian Wilson demonstrably was a Beatle fan. On April 30, 1965, the Beach Boys recorded a song that was to be the B side of their hit “Barbara Ann.”
She’s got a ticket to ri-i-ide, girl don’t tell me you’ll wri-i-ite. Oh, and how about a jangly guitar lick in there as well.
Peter Townsend has written a number of great songs over the years, classic originals all of them. If you are a real Who fan, you may know this one from when the group was known as the “High Numbers.”
A real original by Pete Townsend from 1964.
Unless you know the US R&B charts from 1963
In 1968 the Grassroots had one of their biggest hits, a song called “Midnight Confessions.” (We’ll ignore the fact that it was really Carol Kaye who played the bass on the hit record.)
Imagine how bad the Grassroots may have felt a year and a half later when the Gentrys took the same basic sound and made a record with it.
But don’t feel too bad for the Grassroots.
Sometimes you get an idea. You don’t remember hearing it so you figure it was original with you.
But you could be wrong.