Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Once again, multi-millionaire pop rockers Coldplay are having to keep a close eye on their wallets and, worse yet, vouch for their artistic credibility.

Once again, multi-millionaire pop rockers Coldplay are having to keep a close eye on their wallets and, worse yet, vouch for their artistic credibility. After their recent album VIva La Vida or Death and All His Friends dominated the chart’s upper ranks, a rather unknown American band, Creaky Boards, accused the U.K. stars of lifting the tune to the album’s title track after allegedly witnessing singer Chris Martin at a New York gig. While that incident was quickly squelched, the band is looking at yet another run for their money since guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has charged the band with lifting that very same tune from his oft-played song, “If I Could Fly,” released in 2004.

“Everybody assumes I’m trying to go after these guys in Coldplay, as if I’m doing this with malice,” Satriani told Music Radar. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I’m just doing what I need to do as an artist, to protect what’s mine, to protect those feelings I put down in song.”

Though Satriani claims to have tried to avoid going to court by speaking with Coldplay personally about the matter, he finally filed suit last week in a Los Angeles federal court for using “substantial original portions” of his instrumental song. The suit demands that Satriani accrue any and all profits from the song – a pretty penny, to be sure – for damages. No rebuttal has yet been made by the band.

For the hundreds of thousands of fans who have compared the two songs, the similarities are unavoidable. Even so, whether Coldplay did, in fact, use Satriani’s melody for their own purpse, or Satriani is merely looking for an easy hand-out is hard to tell. In all likelihood, with the endless amount of chord progressions and musical permutations being released by professional musicians every day, this could all be chalked up to unhappy coincidence. How any of this will fly in court, though, is another matter altogether. Until then, it looks like Coldplay’s recent seven Grammy nominations may be under some untimely scrutiny. C’est la vie …


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  1. I like all I have heard from Coldplay, but I don’t think anybody can write off the similarity between the work of a relatively new hitmaker and that of an established one. Most of us older wannabes recall the “doo lang” story, where George Harrison — of considerable talent and clout — paid out around a quarter million dollars after just THREE NOTES of “My Sweet Lord” were found to have been, let us say inspired by, the group Papa Do Run Run. This is no different.

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