The Song: John Fogerty “The Old Man Down the Road” (1985)
The Plaintiff: Fantasy Records
The Case: The distinctive singing and songwriter voice for ‘60s stalwarts Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty’s split from the band and their label, Fantasy Records, was so acrimonious he refused to sing any their iconic songs for nearly 20 years. When he reemerged into the public eye with the hit album Centerfield, its leadoff single “The Old Man Down the Road” raised the ire of Fantasy Records boss Saul Zaentz who felt it was a re-write of the Creedence song “Run Through The Jungle” which the label owned the publishing rights to and filed a copyright infringement suit.
The Judgment: After taking the witness stand with guitar in hand to show how the two songs were separate compositions the jury ruled in John Fogerty’s favor. Fogerty then countersued Zaentz to cover his attorney’s fees which he won in a precedent setting judgment by the U.S. Supreme Court after two lower courts had ruled against him.