Gorillaz aped my song, says furious Eddy Grant
Reggae star demands full credit and apology from Damon Albarn's band
One is a Guyana-born musician who was at the forefront of the reggae scene in the 1980s and recently headlined the Womad festival for world music. The other is a virtual band composed of four animated characters, which was formed just over a decade ago by Damon Albarn from the Britpop band Blur.
So, despite being successful musical acts, they would appear to have little in common – apart from, that is, a melody that seems to appear on both their tracks.
Eddy Grant yesterday accused Gorillaz of "nicking" the music from his anthemic dance classic, "Time Warp", for their latest single, "Stylo", which features on their album Plastic Beach, currently at number two in the UK album charts,
Grant, 62, launched a broadside at the band, claiming their single was a "blatant rip-off" of his double A-side, released in 1982.
He accused band-members of infringing his song's copyright, suggesting that they used his composition knowingly, and he has now referred the case to his lawyers, vowing to "take it to God, let alone the courts".
"This is pure piracy, it is an obvious infringement of my song," he said yesterday. "Anyone who knows 'Time Warp' will know this is 'Time Warp' with people singing and rapping over it, [along] with funny little noises. 'Time Warp' is a very popular song and has been a staple of the DJ scene for many years and I feel total disrespect from Gorillaz and their management company."
Ironically, Grant's record company, Greenheart Music Limited, which published "Time Warp", is administered by EMI Publishing, which also published "Stylo".
Grant said he was also dismayed at EMI Publishing although he did not hold the company in any way responsible. "I am very angry that this was not picked up by our mutual publisher EMI's administration division," he said. "I do not blame my publishers but the state of the industry at the current time with all labels and publishers folding into one and becoming incestuous.
"It's such an obvious copy that from day one, the band and their management should have taken control of this situation with EMI Publishing.
"I would like the outcome to be that the band admits that they have lifted my song, that I have a full credit for the song and an apology from the band."
Dylan Jones, the vice-president of corporate communications and marketing at EMI Music Publishing, in New York, said: "This is a private matter between Eddy Grant and Gorillaz, and we're not intending to make any further comment."
He refused to confirm a report that EMI Publishing has enlisted a musicologist to analyse the two songs.
Music websites and the blogosphere were yesterday divided on the alleged similarity between the two songs. A comment on the Addict Music site speculated that Grant was being over-sensitive, while comments on YouTube's message board were more mixed, with one writer claiming that "Gorillaz is slower and the bass line is not even close", while another leaving a message under Eddy Grant's song said a "great tune (this), anyone else think that Gorillaz ripped it off a bit?"
Grant, whose family emigrated to north London from Guyana when he was young, rose to fame in the 1980s with a series of chart hits. In 1982, his solo recording of "I Don't Wanna Dance" spent three weeks at number one in the UK singles chart. A year later, the single "Electric Avenue" was both a British and American number two hit, selling more than a million copies. He now lives in Barbados.
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