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Stop Rockin': Neil Young Blasts Donald Trump for Using Classic Song Without Clearance

"Donald Trump's use of 'Rockin' in the Free World' was not authorized," Young's manager said in a statement released Tuesday.
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In kicking off his Republican campaign for president, real estate tycoon Donald Trump took the stage Tuesday to the Neil Young classic "Rockin' in the Free World."

But a statement later released by Young's longtime manager said the blustery billionaire wasn't free to use that song.

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement. Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States Of America,” manager Elliot Roberts said in an email to MSNBC. (Sanders is running for president as a Democrat.)

Trump did not immediately respond to Roberts' claim.

This wouldn't be the first time that a politician has hit a sour note with a musician or been publicly scolded for using their song on the campaign trail.

'I Won't Back Down'

In 2000, Tom Petty told George W. Bush to back down from using his 1989 hit.

Petty's music publisher sent a letter demanding the then-presidential candidate to stop using it at rallies because it gave "the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true."

'American Girl'

Tom Petty also didn't appreciate Michele Bachmann using another one of his songs when she was running for president in 2011.

Bachmann strode onto stage at one rally with the 1977 song "American Girl" playing. Petty's team later sent her campaign a cease and desist letter, Rolling Stone magazine reported.


Sarah Palin made her entrance at the 2008 Republican National Convention to Heart's 1977 hit. But sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were quick to pounce when the former vice presidential candidate used it.

"The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women," the sisters said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly at the time. "While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there."

'Our Country'

Palin's 2008 running mate, John McCain, got into his own clash with a prominent artist when John Mellencamp asked him not to use his 2007 song. (McCain's slogan at the time was, "Country First.")

Coincidentally, the song, which includes the lyrics, "Help the poor and common man," was also used by Democratic candidate John Edwards. Mellencamp had joined Edwards at one of his campaign rallies.

'I'm Shipping Up to Boston'

In another recent case of unhappy artists, the punk band the Dropkick Murphys tweeted to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to stop using the 2005 song, which was penned with folk singer Woody Guthrie.

Walker has time to figure out another tune before he is expected to announce his GOP candidacy for president next month.