Singer Neil Young has filed suit against President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign for its repeated use of his music at political events, despite the musician’s objections.
In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New York, attorneys for Young said the campaign has “willfully ignored” complaints about the use of his songs “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk,” which were recently heard at a June rally that Trump held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing," attorneys for Young wrote in the complaint. "However, (Young) in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate."
Attorneys for Young asked a judge to stop the Trump campaign from using any of the singer's music and requested statutory damages and attorney's fees.
Young previously considered taking legal action to stop the Trump campaign from using his music after his “Rockin’ in the Free World” played at the launch of Trump’s presidential campaign in June 2015, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, Young later confirmed a Trump campaign statement saying that officials had obtained a license before playing the song, Reuters reported.
In a post last month on his website, Young said that despite his objections, he wouldn’t sue Trump for using his music at a July 4 event at Mount Rushmore due to the president’s need to focus on the response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a subsequent blog post, Young said he had changed his mind because of Trump’s response to protests against police brutality and racism, particularly in Portland, Oregon.
“There is a long history to consider and I originally considered (suing), deciding not to pursue,” Young wrote on July 26. “But then President Trump ordered thugs in uniform onto our streets.”
He highlighted the case of Christopher David, a Navy veteran who was seen being beaten and pepper-sprayed by federal troops after joining protests in Portland, according to The Washington Post. David told the newspaper that he joined protests July 18 because he wanted to ask officers what they thought of the oaths they’d sworn to protect and defend the Constitution.
"Imagine what it feels like to hear 'Rockin' in the Free World' after this President speaks, like it is his theme song," Young wrote on his website. "I did not write it for that."
It's not the first time musicians have told the Trump campaign to refrain from using their music.
The band Linkin Park sent a cease-and-desist notice last month after their 2002 hit “In The End” was heard in a campaign video. In June, The Rolling Stones threatened to take legal action against the Trump campaign if it continued to use the band’s music, according to The Associated Press.