While plenty of bands have been caught up in messy legal disputes over apparently-lifted riffs and stolen melodies, U2 have generally kept their noses clean. But now, a British songwriter is accusing the band of ripping off one of his tracks – and asking $5m USD for the privilege.
As reported by The Globe and Mail, a complaint was filed by one Paul Rose to the U.S. District Court of Manhattan alleging that Bono & Co. stole “signature elements” from his song ‘Nae Slappin’ for one of their Achtung Baby megahits ‘The Fly’.
The implication is that, when U2 made their sharp move towards the overblown, ironic output of their ’90s era, they were in need of some inspiration outside of their usual sources, and found it in Rose’s song.
Rose apparently gave a demo of the track to the label U2’s label Island in 1989, and so of course he feels that the ideas – particularly it’s guitar solo and “industrial-style” percussion – made their way into U2’s own track later on. He believes that the tracks are “strikingly similar” in parts, but he apparently didn’t notice these similarities in the decades between the release of ‘The Fly’ and now.
Conveniently, the track appeared on his personal YouTube channel just last year, so you can make the comparison yourself below. While there are some similarities there, it’s always hard to tell how these things will play out; everyone from Led Zeppelin to Tame Impala have been accused of ripping people off, but actually proving it is always the hardest part.