Violinist wins fight for royalties after musical interlude in the High Court

A session musician won his claim for royalties yesterday after playing his violin in court to convince a judge he helped to write the biggest hit of the Eighties group the Bluebells.

Bobby Valentino won over Deputy Judge Christopher Floyd at the High Court in London by giving him a rendition of the violin section from "Young at Heart", which reached number eight in 1984.

He was paid £75 for adding the violin to the song after being given an idea of the style and rhythm required, but he received no royalties. The song was re-released in 1993 after it was used in a Volkswagen advert featuring a woman smiling at getting a divorce. It climbed to number one, and led to the Bluebells reforming to play on Top of the Pops, but again the violinist received no royalties.

Yesterday, 48-year-old Mr Valentino, a former member of the Hank Wangford Band who models as a Clark Gable look-alike, said he was "very happy" at the result. He will ask for £100,000 in royalties.

He now shares the copyright with Bluebells' founder member Robert Hodgens and Siobhan Fahey, a former member of Bananarama who was Mr Hodgens' girlfriend at the time, who co-wrote the song.

Mr Hodgens had opposed the claim, saying he wrote the violin part and Mr Valentino's contribution was no more than performing the piece in the studio. But the judge said: "Having heard the piece played, and reflected on the evidence given, I conclude that the violin part does make a significant and original contribution of the right kind of skill and labour to the Bluebells' version of the song. Thus Mr Valentino is a joint author of the copyright in that work."

The judge accepted Mr Valentino was not a member of the group and was hired as a session musician for the recording at the Red Bus Studios in London. But he said although Mr Hodgens gave Mr Valentino an idea of the style he wanted and the underlying chords and rhythm, that did not make him the author of the violin part.

The Bluebells split in 1986 after two Top 40 hits, one Top 40 album and touring America. Mr Valentino did not claim royalties from the success of "Young at Heart" in 1984.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor