Tonight Rod Stewart will arrive on BBC 2 at 8pm in a feature showcasing some of the star’s biggest performances over the years. While he has some legendary songs under his belt, like Maggie May, Sailing and Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? To name a few: In 1980, The Beatles star John Lennon caught him in a controversy. The Fab Four singer claimed that Stewart had “used” some of the band’s last recorded songs.
Lennon said that Stewart’s song The Killing of Georgie used the same melody as The Beatles’ hit Don’t Let Me Down. The star told journalist David Sheff in 1980: “By the way, Rod Stewart turned that [Don’t Let Me Down] in ‘[Georgie] do not go. That’s one the editors never noticed.”
He jokingly asked, “Why didn’t you sing Don’t Let Me Down? The same reason I don’t sing other people’s stuff: because you don’t get paid.”
Stewart eventually responded to these claims, but didn’t seem to think the song similarities were much of a problem.
Sir Rod showed no remorse while speaking to The Guardian in 2016. He said: “It sounds like that. There’s nothing wrong with a good robbery!” He later added: “I’m sure if you look back at the ’60s, you’ll find other songs with those three chords and that melody line.”
The platinum-selling artist later recalled how he performed the song in the 1980s. He said: “I used to camp something terrible when we’d play the songs. We used to have a light pole that would come down onto the stage. I’d lean against it and sing. I used to wear a lot of makeup in those days. All the guys around me used to say, ‘Ding-dong! Call Avon!'”
Although Lennon was furious about the stolen song, Paul McCartney didn’t seem to care at all.
McCartney previously spoke candidly about using snippets from other songs in his own work. He recalled using a bass line similar to Chuck Berry’s I’m Talking About You in his 1963 song I Saw Her Standing There.
He said, “I played the exact same notes as him and it fits our number perfectly. When I tell people about it, I find few believe me. It’s okay to steal a bass line.”
Lennon wasn’t the only star Stewart had a falling out with over the years. He once got on the bad side of Rocket Man himself: Elton John.
When Elton announced a long farewell tour, Stewart had something to say about it. He said the live shows were “dishonest” and “smelled of selling tickets.”
Of course, Elton was not happy. He responded, “I certainly didn’t feel like I needed a lecture on the wild spirit of rock and roll from someone who had spent the better part of the last decade crooning the Great American Songbook and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little.’ Christmas.'”
He added: “Also, I thought he had some fucking nerve, complaining that I was promoting a tour while he was sitting on a TV show promoting his own tour.”
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