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Petty fires back against ‘Last DJ’ lawsuit

California songwriter claims he wrote song
/ Source: Billboard

Veteran rocker Tom Petty has blasted as “a total falsehood” a claim that his 2002 song “The Last DJ” was ripped off a California songwriter.

In a $4.5 million lawsuit recently filed against Petty and Los Angeles radio personality Jim Ladd in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Jim Wagner claims he composed a song titled “The Last Great Radio DJ” which he sent to the KLOS-FM announcer as a demo in 2000.

According to the plaintiff, Ladd requested to use Wagner’s song as the theme song for his nightly radio program. Wagner agreed to give Ladd the song “without even requesting any form of compensation.” When both parties agreed the song would be used, it was believed the songwriter would be compensated should the song be used in any way outside of the radio show’s theme.

In 2001, Wagner claims Ladd gave the “demo” to Petty who quickly “took the idea, theme, title, and overall ‘feel’ of the song and wrote and recorded his ‘version’ of the song, which he entitled ’The Last DJ.”’ Wagner is suing both Petty and Ladd for $4.5 million in damages as well as royalties.

“My song, ‘The Last DJ,’ was written completely without any outside influence,” Petty responded in a statement posted on his official Web site. “It is a wholly original composition. Claiming that Jim Ladd ever gave me another piece of music or discussed the plaintiff or his song with me in any way whatsoever is a total falsehood. Nothing of the kind ever happened.

“I write my own music, and if I collaborate with anyone, I always share the credit,” he continued. “It’s been that way since I began writing 30 years ago and it will always be that way. That’s the way I work. To this date, I have never heard the recording the lawsuit claims influenced my song. The plaintiff is accusing me of stealing. I do not take kindly to such accusations, as the plaintiff and his attorney for hire will find out.”

“The lawsuit, which does not even allege that the songs have the same or similar words or music, will be strongly defended,” Petty’s longtime manager Tony Dimitriades added. “The allegation that Tom Petty and Jim Ladd somehow conspired to rob the plaintiff of a business opportunity is both ludicrous and insulting.”

Petty has spent most of the year in the studio working on the follow-up to “The Last DJ” as well as a greatest hits collection and a live album.