After Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, Pharrell Joins Musicians Telling Trump He Can’t Rally His Followers With Their Songs
After the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre on Saturday, President Donald Trump held one of his rallies with an interesting choice of music: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams.
Williams, as a result, is not happy. His lawyer has sent the president a cease-and-desist letter that claims copyright and trademark infringement, as Williams had not approved its playing at the Illinois rally—a pre-midterms appearance on behalf of Representative Mike Bost.
The letter read: “On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”
Trump has a habit of playing tracks at his rallies without the permission of the artists behind them. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler has fired multiple cease-and-desist letters at Trump, over his use of “Dream On” during his campaign, and his deployment of “Livin’ on the Edge” following his election. Trump and his campaign also ignored a request from the surviving members of Queen to stop using “We Are the Champions” without their permission.
R.E.M. was deeply annoyed when candidate Trump took to the podium to the strains of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”—”Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign,” griped singer Michael Stipe in an expletive-laden statement. And Prince’s estate also told the president to stop using “Purple Rain” at his rallies. Those R.E.M. and Prince tracks are both about the Apocalypse, which makes them perhaps slightly more counterintuitive as rallying songs than “Happy” or “We Are the Champions.”