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Elton John

Sued Over Hit Song --

You Jacked My Lyrics!!!

4/27/2012 3:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0426_elton_john_tmz
Elton John
is a no good dirty lyric stealer -- at least according to a self-proclaimed "award-winning" photojournalist and songwriter, who claims Elton coldheartedly ripped off the lyrics to the hit song "Nikita."

The man behind the accusations -- named Guy Hobbs -- filed the lawsuit in Illinois federal court, claiming he wrote a song called "Natasha" back in 1982 based on his affair with a Russian cruise ship waitress ... and three years later, Elton jacked his idea.

According to the lawsuit, Guy copyrighted the song and circulated the lyrics to multiple publishing companies -- including Big Pig, which solely publishes Elton John songs -- but he never heard back.

In 1985, Elton John released "Nikita" -- and Guy claims the lyrics bear "significant similarities" to "Natasha" ... even though "Nikita" is about an East GERMAN female border guard during the Cold War. Hobbs doesn't specify exactly which lyrics were allegedly stolen.

Now, nearly 30 years later, Guy is suing for copyright infringement -- demanding unspecified damages.

As for what took him so long to sue -- Guy says he's been living in Africa since 1984 ... and news travels slow over there.

update_bar

7:17 AM PDT -- A rep for Elton and Bernie have released a statement ... saying they "do not know the plaintiff, nor did they make use of any song lyrics he claims to have written when they wrote 'Nikita.'"

The rep continues, "In short, the suit is completely meritless. The fact that Hobbs has chosen to wait more than 26 years after the release of "Nikita" to bring this lawsuit calls his motives into question. Sir Elton John and Mr. Taupin fully expect to prevail against this baseless claim."

30 COMMENTS

No Avatar
16.

Anne    

Apart from the question "why after 25 years" one should mention that Elton doesn't write the lyrics, but only the music to his songs. So that dude would have to sue Bernie Taupin anyway.

854 days ago
17.

Johnny    

Elton John has sold more than 250 million records and this douche hasn't heard this song 'cause he was in Africa...

854 days ago
18.

Snooki'sHairBump    

Who waits 30 years to sue? What big ass rock you were living under in Africa that you're just now finding out that someone "stole" your song?

I hope his lawyer made him pay upfront. He's going to be real broke when this is over.

854 days ago
19.

Guy Hobbs    

Well done TMZ for breaking the story. My first job was as a photographer on a Russian cruise ship in 1982. I was an aspiring songwriter (lyricist) and wrote "Natasha" about impossible love between a Western man and a Russian during the Cold War - it was based on my relationship with a Russian waitress who was not allowed to leave the ship and was watched by an on board KGB officer.

The next year I was in London doing the "starving artist" thing trying to get a break as a songwriter or photographer. I sent 5 lyrics, including Natasha to "Big Pig" publishing after finding their address in a songwriting magazine. I would not discover until 16 years later that Big Pig was in fact Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I thought there was a publisher protecting my interests.

No one responded, so soon after I abandoned songwriting and went to Africa and became a photojournalist. 4 months later Nikita was written by Elton and Bernie and then released 11 months after that, at the end of 1985 (so that is about 25 years ago). It was Elton's 3rd most popular solo hit in his career according to international chart rankings - it has appeared on 200 albums and won an Ivor Novello award for "Best written song of the Year".

In 2001 I saw the lyrics of Nikita in a song book for the first time and was immediately stunned at the similarities with my Natasha lyrics. In fact, a forensic linguistic breakdown of the 2 songs shows that almost half of the lyric material in Nikita can be linked to my lyrics.

4 experts in forensic linguistics, forensic musicology, song writing and copyright law have confirmed the 2 lyrics are "Substantially similar".

Of course, what does a person of limited financial means do when they need justice from one of the richest pop stars in the business. That is what I have been trying to figure out for the last 11 years. Finally I have found a way forward and hopefully I will now get my day in court to get justice for past wrongs.

Bernie and Elton had a lucky break 16 years previous to 1985 when a kind music business insider connected them together and took Bernie from being a chicken farm labourer to a multi-millionaire songwriter. Had they then "Passed it Forward" and acknowledged my crucial contribution to the creation of Nikita, I would have been fast tracked into the world of professional songwriting, becoming a co-writer of a huge hit and getting an Ivor Novello award for my efforts. How my life would have been different.

Instead I abandoned songwriting thinking I couldn't make it happen. Only in recent years have I started songwriting again and I am now planning a project where I will be trying to repeat what I did 25 years ago and try and create another hit. If I succeed, some royalties and acknowledgement would be nice this time round.

What I can say, with 100% conviction, is if I hadn't written Natasha, Nikita would never have happened.

Has anyone else noticed that despite the huge success of Nikita, Bernie and Elton have never really talked about the song ?

For those with song copyright knowledge I have a solid case showing "prior creation", "access" and "substantial similarity".

And yes, Elton writes the melodies and Bernie the lyrics, but the end result is co-owned, so, any infringement would be against both the owners.

I thought I would bring some clarity to the issue seeing as TMZ.com is being quoted by everyone. Might as well get the facts correct at the source seeing as I have a media background myself.

Incidentally, it is interesting being the focus of a media story rather than being at the other end.

Guy Hobbs, Cape Town, South Africa

854 days ago
20.

IceGypsy    

Bernie is a brilliant lyricist. I highly doubt he needed this man's help to write a song. And Nikita of all songs? Might as well have tried to say they stole "Candle in the Wind" the end result will be the same.

854 days ago
21.

Canadasux    

As far as I've ever heard, Elton John doesn't write the lyrics to his own songs. He writes the melodies. People like Bernie Taupin write Elton John's lyrics. Besides,...30 years later, and this genius is first filing a lawsuit? Go suck an egg, DOPE!

854 days ago
22.

SLH    

Ah the 80's ... when Elton was still pretending to chase women

854 days ago
23.

buzz kill    

"A no good dirty lyric stealer", among other things.

854 days ago
24.

LittleJoe    

Copyright here...copyright there.
Please do not allow claims older than 10 years.
Does somebody have to live on the moon to not have recognized Nikita?

Sounds alot like Men at work -A land down under- (RIP Greg Ham) and this damn childs bird song "cookaboo or so "lawsuit not long time ago.
There too somebody sued after 30years....

854 days ago
25.

ScoutBubba    

Nikita is a GUYS name.

854 days ago
26.

David    

Well I guess the bitch is back after 25 years!

854 days ago
27.

Different-Time-Zone    

Not every name ending with an "A" is a woman's name.
Nikita is a man's name, like Sasha, Vanja, etc.

854 days ago
28.

Anne    

And not enough. I also wrote the "Song For Myself", which he also stole, especially the words I wrote "Making a fool of myself isn't everything". Or a song about astronauts, which not only Elton John but also David Bowie have stolen. Oh, and he also stole "My Song", where I mention the eyes of the adored one. And my hit "I'm Not Sitting", which he made a senseless "I'm Still Standing".

854 days ago
29.

Liiischen    

HAHAHA :D Do you really believe what you say? Come on 30 years in africa without listening to any music or radio?? Apart from this, what do you think you are?? I mean come on the world laughs about you, you make an ass of yourself. :D But anyway, I have my fun. Thanks for that stupid claim ;) You are even less than just pathetic.

854 days ago
30.

Marie    

A bunch of crap. Bernie Taupin is probably the finest lyricists there ever as, he doesn't need to copy anyone's songs.

852 days ago
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