Another political year brings with it another debate over unauthorized use of music in political rallies.
The latest offense, committed by Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and hundreds of opponents of same-sex marriage who rallied to support Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Davis had gone to jail for contempt after she willfully defied a court order that required her office to issue marriage licenses to all qualified couples, including same-sex couples. Citing her Apostolic Christian beliefs, Davis said she could not allow any marriage licenses to be issued if the documents bore her name and official title. U.S. District Judge David Bunning later released her from jail, saying he was satisfied that her deputy clerks would continue to issue marriage licenses in compliance with his previous order.
As Davis emerged from the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., rally organizers began playing “Eye of the Tiger,” the 1982 hit by the band Survivor. Davis then addressed supporters at the rally, saying, “I just want to give God the glory,” and urging cheering supporters to “keep on pressing” and “don’t let down.”
But Survivor was less than impressed by the use of their song. In a statement on the group’s Facebook page, band member and song co-writer Frankie Sullivan wrote: “No! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ‘My Tune -The Eye Of The Tiger.’ I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin! C’mom (sic) Mike, you are not The Donald but you can do better than that – See Ya really SoooooooonnnnnnN!!!!!!”
Sullivan later followed up those comments in an interview with Rolling Stone, adding, “I do not like mixing rock and roll with politics; they do not go hand in hand. What upset me most was that, once again, my song was being used to further a political agenda — and no one even bothered to ask for permission.”
Sullivan previously sued former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 2012 for using “Eye of the Tiger” as his entrance music at his campaign rallies. That lawsuit was eventually settled out of court. While the band members have not decided whether to take action against Huckabee or Davis, they did distance themselves from Davis’ stance opposing same-sex nuptials.
“I do not agree with Kim Davis’ stance and do not believe in denying gay rights and the freedom for all individuals to choose the lifestyle they want to live,” Sullivan told Rolling Stone. “Our Constitution, and the words of our Founding Fathers, stand tall for freedom, which is what America is all about. I find it ridiculous in this day and age that this fight against gay marriage has gone on, even after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Let’s stop!”
Fellow band member and co-founder of Survivor Jim Peterik, took to Twitter, writing, “I have not authorized the use of Eye of the Tiger for use by Kim Davis and my publisher will issue a C&D [cease-and-desist order]. This does not reflect my views.” He then elaborated on his tweet in an interview with Billboard, saying, “Thee song has motivated thousands through the years to reach beyond their limits. Its use for the release of Kim Davis does not support my views or my politics. I have contacted my publishers to make sure this usage is stopped immediately.”
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