26 years after its release, U2 have been slapped with a $5million (£4million) plagiarism lawsuit for ‘The Fly’.
British guitarist and songwriter Paul Rose alleges that the Irish rock juggernauts lifted multiple elements from his 1989 song ‘Nae Slappin’ at a time when the band were looking to expand into new musical realms.
Rose filed the lawsuit against Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. along with Island Records at Manhattan federal court on Monday (27th February). Together with the money he’s also seeking lawyers’ fees and a songwriting credit.
The suit says that Rose sent a demo of his song via his agent to several executives at Island Records and it was “played and repeatedly listened to” at the offices where U2 frequently used the recording studios.
Rose claims that U2 mimicked the guitar hook, solo and percussion beats on the song. 'The Fly' was the lead single for U2's critically acclaimed 1991 album 'Achtung Baby'.
"Defendants have knowingly been exploiting The Fly without crediting Rose as a writer for more than 25 years," the papers allege.
Elsewhere it states: "The Fly copied and incorporated substantial, distinct, important and recognisable portions of Plaitiff’s work. Any ordinary lay observer would reasonably find that the songs are substantially similar and that an infringement has occurred.”
Reflecting on U2 looking for inspiration for new sounds, it adds: “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.”
“(The) "dance beats, distorted vocals and hard industrial edge (of 'The Fly' sounded nothing like typical U2.”
Having recorded the ‘Nae Slappin’ demo in 1989, Rose copyrighted the song and officially released it in 1991.
The singer-songwriter, who has released 12 studio albums over the decades, uploaded the song to YouTube last week, which you can listen to and compare to ‘The Fly’ below.