Coldplay deny living the life on 'copied' hit

British band defend accusation of copying Grammy-nominated song from veteran guitarist Joe Satriani
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The Independent Culture

One of the great battles in the history of rock 'n' roll is gearing up. In the one corner is Coldplay, the stadium-filling, unit-shifting, multiplatinum-toting British glum rockers. In the other stands Joe Satriani, the veteran guitar-noodler and über-session-musician who has wielded his wailing axe for some of the biggest names in the pantheon of rock. At the heart of the dispute, which looks set to wind up before a Los Angeles jury next year, is the melody and chord progression behind Coldplay's title track from their latest album, Viva La Vida, which by any stretch of the imagination bears more than a passing resemblance to Satriani's 2004 paean to his wife, "If I Could Fly".

So infuriated is Satriani, 52, that last week he filed a copyright suit in California demanding "any and all profits" from the track, which apart from being a worldwide hit, helped earn Chris Martin and his not-so-merry men seven Grammy nominations. But yesterday, after a series of unsubtle on-stage hints, members of Coldplay issued a statement on their website. In a typically gentlemanly but nonetheless defiant message, the band insists it is merely a coincidence. "If there are similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician but did not write or have any influence on the song 'Viva La Vida'. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances and wish him well with all future endeavours," said the band.

Satriani looks unlikely to be mollified. He said on first hearing the track: "I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much." His lawyer, Howard E King, said that while it was common for musicians to be influenced, and sometimes unconsciously copy, they should be prepared to acknowledge any unintentional overlap, preferably through royalties. "As far as the 'coincidence,' ultimately that's for a jury to decide," he added.

Listen and decide for yourself at independent.co.uk/mixtape

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