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1. Chrysler: "ZZ Top is Unoriginal!"
Highest Court W.D. Washington
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs ZZ Top
Defendants Chrysler Corp.
Other Greenbaum, Norman
Hooker, John Lee
Short Description Chrysler admitted to using parts of the much litigated ZZ Top song "La Grange" in promotional efforts for its Plymouth Prowler. They argued, however, that the ZZ Top song was not original and therefore unprotected. The song has similarities to John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" and Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky". The court granted ZZ Top summary judgment, and later determined that Chrysler would be able to deduct its overhead expenses from the damages calculation. - JMC


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2. ZZ Top Copied Hooker?
Highest Court Ninth Circuit
Year Ended 1997
Plaintiffs LaCienega Music
Defendants Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Ham, Bill
Music Producer(s)
Music Publisher(s)
Warner Bros. Records
Warner-Elektra-Atlantic
ZZ Top
Other Besman, Bernard
Hooker, John Lee
Short Description ZZ Top was by sued by the music publisher for Bernard Besman, co-author with John Lee Hooker of a song called "Boogie Chillen," claiming that ZZ's signature tune, "La Grange," infringed the copyright of Besman's composition. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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3. ZZ Top Copy Old Blues Band?
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 1995
Plaintiffs Nightcaps
Defendants ZZ Top
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description ZZ Top were sued by a 1950s and 60s band, The Nightcaps, for plagiarizing a song "Thunderbird". ZZ Top admitted that their version of the song, released in 1975, was sonically identical to the late, unlamented Nightcaps' version. ZZ Top was granted summary judgment due to preemption of all claims by federal statutes and the running of the statute of limitations. In an opinion full of musical puns, the appellate court affirmed the summary judgment finding that The Nightcaps knew in 1981 of ZZ Top's version. - JMC


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