Neil Young sues Donald Trump's campaign over song use at rallies

Neil Young
Neil Young (Image credit: Jo Hale/Redferns - Getty)

Neil Young is suing Donald Trump's campaign over the use of his music at political rallies.

Young previously revealed he was considering beginning legal proceedings against the administration for using his material without permission. Now he’s filed papers in New York for copyright infringement in relation to Rockin’ In The Free World and Devil’s Sidewalk.

The documents have been uploaded to Young's Archives website and say: “This complaint is not intended to disrespect the right and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing. However, Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.” 

Both songs were played at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June this year.

Young is seeking damages of up to $150,000.

Last week, Young released the anti-Trump protest song Lookin' For A Leader – a reworking of his 2006 track of the same name which appeared on his Living With War album.

In June, the Rolling Stones threatened to sue the Trump administration for continuing to use their music at campaign rallies – despite having received cease-and-desist orders in the past. 

The move came after the band’s 1969 hit You Can't Always Get What You Want was played at the same rally in Tulsa. Also at the rally, Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down was played, leading the late musician’s family to issued a cease and desist order to Trump’s campaign.

Last year, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne blasted Trump for using Crazy Train in a video, while Prince’s estate took offence at Purple Rain being played at a rally in Minnesota.

In November 2018, Axl Rose hit out at Trump’s campaign team for using Guns N’ Roses tracks during the midterm elections and also in 2018, lawyers representing Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler send a cease and desist letter to the White House to insist they stop playing Livin’ On The Edge

The estate of George Harrison and Queen have also objected to their music being associated with Trump.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.