Johnny Depp, Jeff Beck Accused of Stealing Lyrics on Their New LP
Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck released an album together in July titled 18. That album features a song titled “Sad Motherf—in’ Parade,” and it’s billed as a “Johnny Depp original.” However, it might not be as original as it claims.
Per Rolling Stone, the track’s lyrics are a near word-for-word rip-off from a poem titled “Hobo Ben.” (The outlet published and compared the very NSFW lyrics for comparison which can be read here.
The poem is featured in the 1974 book Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me by Bruce Jackson. Jackson’s book is a collection of “toasts,” which Rolling Stone described as “a wildly outlandish, funny, ribald form of narrative Black folk poetry.” (An album featuring recordings of these toasts was released in 1976.) “Hobo Ben,” in particular, was the original work of a man referred to as Slim Wilson. Jackson met Wilson while in the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1964.
Jackson told Rolling Stone, “The only two lines I could find in the whole piece that [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Big time motherf—er’ and ‘Bust it down to my level.’ Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book. I’ve never encountered anything like this. I’ve been publishing stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time anybody has just ripped something off and put his own name on it.”
Rolling Stone also shared a statement from a spokesperson for Depp and Beck’s album saying, “We are reviewing the enquiry relating to the song ‘Sad Motherf—in’ Parade’ on the ’18’ album by Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp. If appropriate, additional copyright credits will be added to all forms of the album.”
In the lead-up to the album's release, Beck said in a statement about Depp, “I haven’t had another creative partner like him for ages. He was a major force on this record. I just hope people will take him seriously as a musician because it’s a hard thing for some people to accept that Johnny Depp can sing rock and roll.”
As of publishing, neither Depp nor Beck have responded to the report about the lyrics featured on Sad Motherf—in’ Parade.”