Survivor vs. Gingrich, and 17 Other Musician vs. Politician Rumbles

More

The lawsuit against Newt from the "Eye of the Tiger" songwriter is the latest in a long tradition.

gingrich survivor.jpg

Reuters/Scotti Brothers

The prize-fight puns have been flying ever since the news broke earlier this week that Newt Gingrich is being sued over "Eye of the Tiger." The song's co-writer, Frankie Sullivan of the band Survivor, filed an injunction on Monday in Chicago seeking to stop Gingrich's campaign from playing the 1982 Rocky III hit at rallies and to collect an unspecified amount of damages. (His co-writer has said he's not on board with the suit.)

"Mr. Gingrich happens to be a presidential candidate, but it has nothing to do with that," Sullivan says of his lawsuit.

Sullivan tells The Atlantic that his lawyer first noticed that Gingrich was playing "Eye of the Tiger" at political events in 2009 and sent the politician a cease-and-desist letter then. Evidently, he says, it didn't take. The musician says that lately, it's been hard to miss Gingrich using the song at campaign stops.

"All you have to do is put the TV on or go on YouTube," he says. "It's all over the place. One time they played the whole song and then played it again. I thought, OK, nine minutes of 'Eye of the Tiger' is too much for me to hear for myself, much less for somebody else."

The musician stresses that the lawsuit is not politically motivated.

"Mr. Gingrich happens to be a presidential candidate, but it has nothing to do with that," Sullivan says. "It has to do with the actual use of my work. I'm pretty savvy because I own my own publishing catalogue, meaning all my songs. Where most people sign with a publisher, I did it myself. So I thought, 'I'd better have a good intellectual property attorney around.' I knew enough to know that there's sync licenses and sync fees and venue licenses. He never really got one.

"And I'm pretty passionate about protecting [my work]," he continues. "I'm a pitbull about it. I think that those laws are very clear. And in this case, it's the copyright for 'Eye of the Tiger.' Thirty years later, it's iconic. So, I would think that if they're going to use something that familiar, then you have to go through the right channels and do things the right way."

Gingrich is actually not the only presidential candidate that Sullivan has had to confront, according to Sullivan. "I sent [John] McCain a letter," he says. "He used "Tiger" one time. He said, 'Sorry, I won't do it again. No problem.'"

Sullivan joins a history of artists whose songs have built the unwilling mixtape of the electoral process. Below, we look back at every musician to enter the political ring and spar with a candidate.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jason Richards is a writer from Toronto who has contributed to New York Magazine, Gawker, and RollingStone.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In