US MOR balladeer Tom Petty, also known as front man for, wait for it, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, has picked a fight with the US Republican party after one of its candidates began using one of his songs as her exit music during her campaign launch on TV. Michelle Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who is running on the Republican Party ticket as a Presidential Candidate, used his song ‘American Girl’ as the exit music after a press conference; but they didn’t seek Petty’s blessing. Had she done her research, she would have found that Petty is, like many musos, a bit of a leftie, and he has form for sending lawyers’ letters to Republican Party candidates who want to use his songs on the campaign trail.
Back in 2000, Petty had his lawyers send a cease and desist letter to one George W. Bush, who was then on the campaign trail for his successful bid to become President. Dubya had been using Petty’s song ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at his rallies. “This use has not been approved,” Petty’s lawyers informed the future president. “Any use made by you or your campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true.” However, perhaps indicating where his political sympathies lie, he granted permission for Hillary Clinton to use ‘American Girl’ in her unsuccessful 2008 Presidential bid.
It’s not the first time a conservative party political candidate has fallen foul of a lefty muso when wanting to use their songs. US rockers Heart had a stoush with failed Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, while MGMT took it to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and plodding MOR rockers Keane took it to UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Other recent examples have included The XX and Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr letting it be known that they were far from happy about the UK Conservative Party using their music.