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The Rolling Stones accused of song theft over 2020 track Living In A Ghost Town

By | Published on Monday 13 March 2023

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have been sued over allegations that their 2020 track ‘Living In A Ghost Town’ rips off not one but two earlier songs. The artist behind those earlier works alleges that the band got hold of his music via a member of Mick Jagger’s family.

When released in April 2020, ‘Living In A Ghost Town’ was the first new music from the Stones in four years, and their first original song since 2012. It was initially recorded the previous year, but Jagger amended the lyrics in early 2020 as the COVID pandemic started to surge, changing the words to reference the lockdowns.

Talking about the track at the time, Jagger told Apple Music: “Keith Richards and I both had the idea that we should release it. But I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to rewrite it’. Some of it is not going to work and some of it was a bit weird and a bit too dark”.

According to this new lawsuit filed with the US courts by musician Sergio Garcia Fernandez, not only did ‘Living In A Ghost Town’ contain lockdown themes, it also included “recognisable and key protected elements” from his 2006 song ‘So Sorry’ and his 2007 release ‘Seed Of God'”.

More specifically, the Stones song allegedly lifted “vocal melodies, the chord progressions, the drum beat patterns, the harmonica parts, the electric bass line parts, the tempos, and other key signatures” from ‘So Sorry’ and the “harmonic and chord progression and melody” from ‘Seed Of God’.

As for how Jagger and Richards might have been able to hear Fernandez’s little known songs, according to Billboard his lawsuit claims that he gave a demo CD to “an immediate family member” of the Stones frontman.

“The immediate family member … confirmed receipt … to the plaintiff via email”, the legal filing claims, “and expressed that the musical works of the plaintiff and its style was a sound The Rolling Stones would be interested in using”.

As with most song theft lawsuits of this kind, the legal claim seems somewhat optimistic, but we shall see. The Stones are yet to respond to Fernandez’s litigation.