Johnny Depp accused of stealing lyrics from incarcerated man

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images)

In the “yeah, this guy sucks” new, rolling stone suggests that Johnny Depp and his collaborator Jeff Beck may have stolen the lyrics to their song “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” from Slim Wilson, an incarcerated man whose toasts were immortalized in the 1974 book Put your ass in the water and swim like me by folklorist Bruce Jackson.

“The only two lines I could find in the whole room that [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Big time motherfucker’ and ‘Bust it down to my level,'” Jackson tells the outlet. “Everything else comes from Slim’s performance in my book. I have never encountered anything like it. I’ve been posting stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time anyone’s ever ripped something off and put their own name on it.

Depp and Beck are the only credited writers on the song, and there has apparently been no acknowledgment of the duet from the original toast (entitled “Hobo Ben”, which Slim himself can be heard playing on the 1976 Get your ass in the water…album). Jackson’s son, Michael Lee Jackson, who happens to be a music and intellectual property lawyer, told the outlet that the credits “do not reflect actual authorship of these lyrics,” adding, ” It’s just not plausible, in my opinion, that Johnny Depp or anyone else could have sat down and created these lyrics without taking them almost entirely from a version of the recording and/or or from my father’s book where they appeared.

rolling stone shares fascinating background on the oral tradition of toasts and its connection to copyright law, which basically boils down to the fact that “the issue here may be more ethical than legal.” Jackson may have a case as the author of the book that “Hobo Ben” was published in, but it’s a cloudy problem since it is not the origin of words.

The folklorist himself reportedly donated much of the profits from his work to his incarcerated subjects or to a trust fund for inmates. “I don’t know if this record sells. I saw reviews that I would have been very embarrassed to have had if it was my album,” he says in a much-deserved snipe. “But if it sells, Johnny Depp makes a lot of money on it. Should he go to him, or should he go to a place that helps the people who produced this culture?”

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