Did The Red Hot Chili Peppers Rip Off Tom Petty?

Did The Chili Peppers Rip Off Tom Pett

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories, they take a look at the song The Red Hot Chili Peppers released in 2005 as part of their Stadium Arcadium double album ‘Dani California.’ It would be a number one hit on the rock charts, but it also came with accusations of ripping off Tom Petty’s 1993 hit ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance.’ Check out the full story below!

In 2006 the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their ninth studio album Stadium Arcadium. One of the biggest singles off the album and the Chili Peppers career was song dani california, but the band soon found themselves being compared to musician Tom Petty and it wasn’t in a way they had hoped. What happened? Stay tuned to find out! Dani California would become the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s 3 single of their career after Scar Tissue and Under The Bridge to be a top ten hit on the billboard hot 100. In addition to that Dani california became the second song (with the first being REM’s what’s the frequency kenneth, which I’ve also already done a video on.) to debut at number one on the billboard modern rock charts where it stayed their for 3.5 consecutive months. The song would also go on to win two grammy awards for best rock song and best performance by a duo or group with a vocal. There was a lot to celebrate The song tells a story of Dani who would be a poor girl from the south who lived in California had a child, while also lived a fast and dangerous life and evnetually dying. Dani would represent a composite of all of the women frontman ANthony Keidis had had relationships with in his life. Dani first appeared in the 1999 song “Californication” even though her name isn’t explicitly stated which includes the lyrics “Teenage bride with a baby inside/Gettin’ high on information.” A reference is also made to her in the band’s 2002 single “By the Way” as “Dani the girl”. Kiedis would reveal in an interview : “When this funky groove came up it struck me as a perfect place to actually tell a story. It sort of revealed itself to me that it’s been the same character, just kind of developing. At first I didn’t realize that I was writing about the same girl.”[7] While the song received much critical praise, a morning radio DJ in Deleware naed Dan Gaffney who worked for radio station WGMD 92.7 claimed the band plaigraized the Tom Petty and Heartbreakers 1993 hit Mary Jane’s last dance. They would play the songs side by side and state the chord progression, the key and even lyrical themes were very similar and they would ask their audience to decide for themselves. Soon enough other news outlets picked up on this and it became widely reported. Even though the chord progressions do sound similar they are in fact different. University of Chicago Musicologist Travis Jackson would tell Rolling Stone magazine that while the chord progressions were similar they were pretty standard groove in music and it didn’t necessarily mean it was evidence of plagiarism. Other people would point to the fact that tom Petty’s song mary jane’s last dance sounds eerily similar to the Jayhawks 1992 song Wiating for the Sun. The Jayhawks ironically enough were an opening act for Tom Petty in 1992 and the band’s keyboardist Benmont Tench played on both Waiting for the Sun and Mary Jane’s Last Dance. Also interesting was that Rick Rubin produced Dani California and Mary jane’s last dance. Soon enough the news story made it’s way all the way to Tom Petty. News stories at the time reported that the The Chili Peppers could be facing a huge plagiarism lawsuit as Tom Petty was made aware of the similarities. and was looking into legal ramifications. It was also interesting to mention that both bands were on the same label Warner Records and for the record label Stadium Arcadium was their biggest album of the year and if Petty were to file legal action it was reported that the album could’ve been pulled from shelves pending litigation. Petty’s rep, Heidi Robinson, said: “I am well aware of this situation. [The two songs] certainly do sound similar, don’t they? I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Tom doesn’t have a comment on this at all. I have no idea if he is going to sue the Chili Peppers, and am not prepared to make a comment on that.” Eventually Petty would comment on the matter when he was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine where he said the following The truth is, I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there,” “a lot of rock & roll songs sound alike.” When he was asked if he considered a lawsuit, Petty said nah. “I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

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