A British guitarist and songwriter is suing U2 and its front man Bono claiming that the famous band stole one of his songs for their 1991 album “Achtung Baby.”
Paul Rose said U2 lifted multiple elements of his song “Nae Slappin” for their hit song “The Fly” at a time when they were desperately searching for a new sound.
“An ordinary lay observer would reasonably find that the songs are substantially similar and that an infringement has occurred,” Rose claimed in his Manhattan federal court lawsuit.
He is seeking $5 million in damages, lawyers’ fees and songwriting credit for “The Fly.”
U2 heard Rose’s “Nae Slappin” after it signed on with record company Island Records in 1989 — the same year Rose had provided a demo tape to recording studio’s executives, who listened to it often in their offices, the lawsuit said.
At the time, U2 was trying to reinvent itself and the band was listening to lots of different music as inspiration, the lawsuit said.
“Although perhaps the most popular rock band in the world in the 1980s, by that decade’s end the band felt in need of reinvigoration,” Rose’s lawsuit claimed.
What they ended up coming up with was a new version of “Nae Slapping,” including “an elaborate and distinctive guitar solo nearly identical to” Rose’s song, the lawsuit said.
Rose’s lawyer, Thomas Mullaney, said his client is only coming forward now — some 26 years later — because he was just starting out at the time of the alleged theft and he didn’t want it to ruin his career.
Rose also only recently found an ex-Island Records employee who will corroborate his story, including that “Nae Slappin” was often played at Island records when U2 was looking for inspiration of “Achtung Baby,” Mullaney said.
A representative for U2 did not return a request for comment. Island Records, which was also sued, also did not return a request for comment.
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