Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck have been accused of stealing lyrics on their new album from an incarcerated man on their new album 18. According to Rolling Stone, the lyrics to their new song “Sad Motherf*ckin” Parade,” were allegedly taken from the late Slim Wilson, a gambler, pimp, robber and murderer.
They are accused of stealing lyrics from a song called “Hobo Ben” by Wilson. While he was doing time in Missouri State Penitentiary for armed robbery in 1964, Wilson met folklorist Bruce Jackson, who featured the Wilson’s work in his 1974 book about toasts titled Get Your A** in the Water and Swim Like Me and a 1976 album of the same name.
“Hobo Ben” includes lyrics like “Ladies of culture and beauty so refined, is there one among you that would grant me wine? / I’m raggedy I know, but I have no stink / and God bless the lady that’ll buy me a drink” and “Heavy-hipted Hattie turned to Nadine with a laugh / and said, ‘What that funky motherf*cker really need, child, is a bath.'”
Those lyrics appear verbatim in “Sad Motherf*ckin’ Parade,” but the song is credited solely to Depp and Beck, with no mention of Wilson, Jackson or Get Your A** in the Water and Swim Like Me.
Jackson told Rolling Stone, “The only two lines I could find in the whole piece that Depp and Beck contributed are ‘Big time motherf*cker’ and ‘Bust it down to my level.’ Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book. I’ve never encountered anything like this. I’ve been publishing stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time anybody has just ripped something off and put his own name on it.”