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Chuck Berry -- 'Maybellene'

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast and we’ll provide the jams.



Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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Back in the mid-80's when my dad was writing his novel “Circa 1957", loosely based on his life growing up as a hot rodder in the 1950's, he was contacting people that owned the rights to music of the era. He wanted permission to use the lyrics in his writing. Everyone he contacted said sure and either gave him permission for free or asked for a nominal fee.

Every person but one. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the owner of the rights to “Maybellene” via the mail, he called the number listed. He explained who was and what he was doing. The person who answered the phone handed it to someone else and dad explained everything again. After hearing my dads pitch the person on the phone said “Sure, you can use the song. For $20K.”

Needless to say, my dad was taken by surprise and asked, “Who am I talking to?” The voice on the other end of the phone replied “Mr Berry”.

“Mr Berry” explained to my dad that over the years he figured that he’d been screwed out of millions in royalties from his music and he wasn’t giving anything away for free. Dad said he understood and respected his decision and agreed not use the lyrics to “Maybellene” in his book.