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Family of Tom Petty Demands Trump Stop Playing His Music

They sent a cease and desist letter after Trump played a Petty classic at his sparsely attended Tulsa rally

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jun 22, 2020

On Saturday, Trump headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a sparsely attended rally. Speaking to an arena that was 2/3rds empty, Trump’s team played Tom Petty’s hit “I Won’t Back Down.” Now the family of the late singer has filed a cease and desist notice with the campaign telling them to not use Petty’s music.

In a tweet, the family said “Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind. Both the late Tom Petty and his family stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”

This isn’t the first time Petty has asked a politician to stop using his music. In 2000, he threatened then Texas Governor George W. Bush with legal action if he didn’t stop using one of Petty’s songs.

Petty isn’t the only one who has asked Trump to stop using their music.

Neil Young: was one of the first to demand Trump stop using his song. Back in 2015, Trump used 'Rockin' in the Free World’ at his campaign announcement. Although Young is a Canadian, he said at the time that he was supporting Senator Bernie Sanders.

Rhianna: sent a cease and desist order to Trump in 2018 after she found out that her music was being played at Trump rallies.

Elton John: Trump liked to use ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Tiny Dancer’ as warm up songs at his rallies, but John asked him to stop. “I've met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it's nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, I'm not a Republican in a million years," John told The Guardian. "Why not ask Ted Nugent? Or one of those f------ country stars? They'll do it for you."

R.E.M: In 2016 the band sent Trump a cease and desist letter after their hit ‘It’s the End of the World’ was being used at Trump rallies.

Others that have asked Trump to not use their music include

  • Adele
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Queen’s Brian May as well as a separate request by the full band
  • Earth, Wind and Fire
  • Eddie Levert of The O'Jays
  • Paul Rodgers of the band Free
  • The Estate of George Harrison
  • Luciano Pavarotti’s family
  • Family of Prince
  • Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
  • Dee Snider of Twisted Sister

Although these musicians have threatened legal action against Trump, his campaign continues to use some of these artist's songs, most notably The Rolling Stones ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’

Petty’s family said that he wrote the song for everybody and Trump does not embody that ideal.

"We believe in America and we believe in democracy," the family said. "But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either. We would hate for fans that are marginalized by this administration to think we are complicit in this usage."

Benmont Tench III, a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, echoed the family's sentiment, tweeting: "Second. Absolutely." In an Instagram post, he said: "I in no way approve of Trump even whistling any piece of music associated with our band. I hope that's clear enough."

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