Music News

Bon Jovi complains over Republican rally song

Singer Jon Bon Jovi speaks during the Service Nation Summit in New York, September 12, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rocker and Democratic supporter Jon Bon Jovi on Wednesday became the latest musician to complain about Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign using songs without the artists’ approval.

Bon Jovi, who threw a $30,000-per-person, fund-raising dinner for Democrat Barack Obama at his New Jersey home in September, said he was surprised to hear that his band’s song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” was used during rallies held by Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin this week.

“We wrote this song as a thank you to those who have supported us over the past 25 years. The song has since become a banner for our home state of New Jersey and the de facto theme song for our partnerships around the country to build homes and rebuild communities.

“Although we were not asked, we do not approve of their use of ‘Home,’” Bon Jovi said in a statement to celebrity Web site

The rock group Heart sent a cease and desist letter to the Republican campaign in September asking them not to use the song “Barracuda.” The song was the early unofficial theme song for Palin, playing off the “Sarah Barracuda” nickname the Alaska governor earned on the basketball court in high school.

In August, rocker Jackson Browne sued McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party, accusing them of using his 1977 hit “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad without permission.

Musicians often have little control over how their music is used because of the system that licenses songs for public performance under a blanket fee paid by venues to ASCAP, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of composers and copyright owners.

The Heart song “Barracuda” and Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” are both licensed for public performance on the ASCAP site.

Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Sheryl Crow and other musicians last month released an album of songs that have been used at Obama rallies. Called “Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement,” the album is being sold to raise money for Democrats before the November 4 election.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant