More than 25 years on and Elton John is facing a lawsuit over the lyrics to his 1985 hit ‘Nikita’, which told the story of a star-crossed Cold War romance.

A federal lawsuit, filed in Chicago by (self-proclaimed) award winning photojournalist Guy Hobbs, alleges that Hobbs penned the lyrics during his time working on a Russian cruise ship in 1982, when he became romantically involved with a Russian waitress during the height of the cold war.

Hobbs also maintains within the lawsuit that he registered his copyright of the lyrics, which he called ‘Natasha’, and sought without success to find a musical composer in 1984, during which time he forwarded the lyrics to several music publishers including Big Pig Ltd, stating that he was unaware of Big Pigs ties to Elton John at the time.

Assuming the lyrics were never used for composition, Hobbs returned to his career as a photojournalist in Africa before eventually settling in Cape Town. It was in 2001 that Hobbs came across the lyrics to ‘Nikita’ in a songbook and was alarmed by the similarities with his original score.

The suit alleges that Elton John and long time collaborator Bernie Taupin had copied “substantial original portions” of ‘Natasha’ without proper accreditation.

In a telephone interview Hobbs lawyer Daniel Voelker, said that since the discovery of the similarities numerous attempts had been made to reach a settlement with John and Taupin.

After more than a decade since the discovery Hobbs’ attempts to contact John and Taupin remained unanswered, so he was left with no option but to sue.

Elton Johns publicist has not returned calls for any comment on the lawsuit, however a statement from Taupin on page 6 of The New York Post states that both Taupin and John were “disappointed to learn of the lawsuit for copyright infringment” and question Hobbs’ motives “that he has chosen to wait more than 26 years after the release of Nikita”.   

Write a Letter to the Editor