Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here

John Legend Accused of SONG JACKING

7/7/2011 4:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

John Legend is a no good song-stealer ... at least according to some unknown singer, who claims Legend listened to his demo tape and then ripped off his hard work for profit.

According to the lawsuit, filed earlier this week in New Jersey, songwriter Anthony Stokes passed his demo off to Legend back in 2004 ... after Stokes watched him perform at UNC.

Stokes claims Legend promised to listen to the song, but never heard back from him. Fast forward to 2006 ... Legend released a track called "Maxine's Interlude" -- and according to Stokes, it's a dead ringer for his track "Where Are You Now?"

Stokes wants to block Legend from selling the alleged rip-off -- and demands unspecified damages.

It's hard to hear the similarities if you listen to each song separately -- so we mashed them up ... the lyrics echo each other, and the key matches up nearly perfectly.

So we gotta ask ...


No Avatar


My speech teacher in college gave me the following tip:

Whenever you send your product out for people to view or listen to it, seal it, post date it, and mail a copy to yourself so that you can prove that it is yours in the future..

There are a lot of ruthless people out there that would jack your stuff and leave you high and dry.

1212 days ago


no both sounds are nothing alike

1212 days ago

Timmy Boy    

John Who?

1212 days ago

JulieN AZ    

The other guy sounds SO MUCH BETTER it is amazing. I do think it is a rip off. Hard to imagine that people still rip people off with lawyers that are musicians and the way they can easily figure out a rip off nowadays...he will pay up for this.

1212 days ago


I don't know if Legend ripped him off but the other guy's song is damn good. If nothing else, that Stokes cat should get a record deal out of this.

1212 days ago


Musically a rip-off? Yes. Legally a rip-off? No

1212 days ago

Jack Johnson    

TMZ should do some research, John Legend has stolen
music before and actually had to pay out. Can not believe
people (The public and Media) forgot about how Legend
ripped off the "Classics IV" song "Stormy" for his song
"Save Room".

John Mayer also ripped off Daughters and your Body Is A Wonderland from two unknown singers/songwriters and also
had to pay a settlement.,2933,217220,00.html#2

John Legend has a new permanent lifetime buddy, a man with whom he will now be linked in perpetuity.

That's because on his forthcoming album, "Once Again," Legend re-recorded a hit song from the '60...s with new lyrics, but the exact same music.

If you're over a certain age, you will certainly recall the hits "Stormy," "Spooky" and "Traces of Love" by Dennis Yost & the Classics IV.

Well, an Alabama songwriter named Buddy Buie wrote those songs with James B. Cobb Jr. Buie also co-authored the Atlanta Rhythm Section hit "So Into You."

But what Buddy wasn't into so much was John Legend (real name John Stephens) creating a new song from the memorable "Stormy" and renaming it "Save Room" for his album — unless he was paying Buie.

And now he is.

Buie and Cobb, in fact, are getting 50 percent of the publishing on "Save Room." Not just now, but forever.

"We wouldn't have accepted the deal otherwise," Buie told me last night from his Alabama home.

The other 50 percent will go to Legend and two collaborators — the Black Eyed Peas', aka Will Adams, and newcomer Jessyca Wilson, who allegedly helped Legend think up the new lyrics (and yes, they are far inferior to Buie and Cobb's refrain of "bring back that sunny day").

Now, don't get us wrong, Buddy Buie is very happy with John Legend.

"I'd like him to sample some of my songs!" he roared with laughter. "Bring 'em all back!"

Buie notes that he's been sampled before, but without permission.

"This time it was very easy," he said. "No lawyers were required."

Of course, it's the first time Buddy Buie has written a song "with" someone he's never met or spoken to.

"That is a little odd," he says.

Legend, despite appropriating "Stormy," hasn't bothered to call the veteran songwriter. But that's OK.

"I think he did a pretty good job with it," Buie says, "but I think the original is better."

By the way, Legend says in the press release accompanying "Once Again" that he'd never heard of "Stormy."

That might seem a little implausible, considering that Buie'*****s have been mainstays of pop radio for 40 years. But, you know, maybe he was living under a rock.

"I didn't even know the original." Legend writes. "I just knew it was a nice organ sound and wanted to write it."

And yet, he didn't write it. Someone else did.

In the past, when that happened, songwriters said "Whoops!" and went on to new material.

But not in this generation, where, to paraphrase, "imitation is the sincerest form of income."

So what's going on here?

John Legend, I'd say, is getting bad advice. He's a gifted musician and songwriter, but too much of "Once Again" sounds like it's the same sort of prepackaged pop-soul that's on Justin Timberlake's new album.

Read more:,2933,217220,00.html#2#ixzz1RStexbjQ

1212 days ago


Okay, I am a songwriter. With a hit or two under my belt. I am NOT a John Legend fan. But these two songs, from the posted clips, are NOTHING alike.

1212 days ago

Dan Frederiksen    

they are quite similar in that both are a similar flavor of bad.
both suck but within the genre of suction they are not the same at all. no more than all jazz is the same.

and who cares???

1212 days ago

Trevis Miho    

This has gotta be SOO frustrating. Someone gives a song/their soul to an established artist who everyone hears, only to have to fight the powers that be because it's been taken years later? That is BELOW THE BELT and should be taken very personally. I pray this doesn't happen to me, 'cause I'd be after someone's blood. Not sayin' this is John Legend's fault, but SOMEONE'S to blame. Someone KNOWS they jacked this and didn't give a dam about the person they got it from. What a spit in the face.

Also, as far as the "mail it to yourself" scenario - I heard that's just a myth, but I'm curious to know for sure..

1212 days ago


Not a rip-off. Many songs have similar themes, chord progressions, and are played in the same modes. There are only 12 notes max in the western note scales, and with popular music restricted to, basically, only the major and minor modes, there are bound to be similarities, especially between 2 artists of the same genre. Both are good songs, both have similar make-ups, but is John Legend trying to rip-off this unknown guy? Doubtful. John Legend doesn't need to rip-off anyone.

1212 days ago


The other guys song is better

1212 days ago


@Jack Johnson - that's some damn good reporting there!

1212 days ago


If you are a major recording artist you should NEVER take a demo tape through unofficial channels, or if you do have a contract on hand so that you have everything in writing. Otherwise something like this will happen.

1212 days ago


John Legend ripped it off...But I like the other's guys song better.

1212 days ago
| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web