From his presidential campaign to his current presidency, President Donald Trump has received disapproval from many musicians who don’t want their music played at his events – many artists have even sent cease and desist letters.
From Neil Young to Rihanna, here are all the artists or their representatives who have spoken out against President Trump using their music at his events and rallies.
Neil Young was one of the first musicians to tell Trump to stop playing his music.
Neil Young began his battle with Trump over the usage of his hit song, “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Trump was using his song during his official presidential campaign announcement. Rolling Stone obtained the statement from Young’s representatives, which stated:
“Donald Trump was not authorised 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.”
But despite disapproval from the artist, a representative for Trump’s campaign told Rolling Stone that the song was being used legally.
Rihanna sent a cease and desist letter to the White House.
The pop singer is one of the latest artists to send President Trump a cease and desist letter. She discovered her music was being played during one of his rallies via Twitter.
In response to a tweet from The Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker about her music being used, she tweeted, “Not for much longer…me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies, so thanks for the heads up philip!”
Shortly after Rihanna sent out a tweet in regards to her disapproval, her team sent out a cease and desist, Rolling Stone reports.
Elton John doesn’t want his music used in American election campaigns.
While running for president, Trump used Elton John’s songs “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” as warm-up music to his campaign rallies. But the iconic singer has made it clear his views are different from Trump’s and he doesn’t want his music involved in American politics.
“I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British. I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it’s nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, I’m not a Republican in a million years,” John told The Guardian. “Why not ask Ted Nugent? Or one of those f—— country stars? They will do it for you.”
R.E.M. sent a cease and desist letter to Donald Trump.
In 2016, when the band’s frontrunner Michael Stipe found out that Trump was frequently using R.E.M.’s hit song, “It’s the End of the World,” at his campaign rallies, the entire band sent him a cease and desist letter.
According to Vulture, they later confirmed the legal matter in a Facebook statement and also told the media and American voters to focus on the “bigger picture.”
Adele spoke out against Trump once he started using her music at rallies.
In 2016, upon finding out that Trump was playing her music at his events, Adele’s spokesperson announced that Adele never gave then-candidate Trump permission to use her music.
According to Vulture, she then went on to endorse Hillary Clinton during a concert on the US leg of her tour.
“Don’t vote for him,” she said of Trump. “I am English, but what happens in America affects me, too. I am 100% for Hillary Clinton. I love her, she’s amazing.”
The Rolling Stones sent out two statements against Trump’s use of their music.
The band sent out multiple statements calling for Trump to “cease all use” of their music, Vulture reports.
But Trump has continued to use the band’s hit song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” anyway, according to The Guardian.
Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses lashed out at Trump for playing the band’s music at rallies.
Recently, the Guns N’ Roses singer found out that President Trump was playing the band’s hit song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” during an event.
He said his band has formally requested that Trump not use their music at his events, and tweeted that “… the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues’ blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters’ consent.”
Pharrell Williams sent Trump a cease and desist letter.
After finding out that Trump played his song “Happy” at a rally just a few hours after the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Williams had his lawyer send the White House a cease and desist letter pertaining to the hit song and any of his other tunes, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,” the letter stated.
It also said Williams “has not and will not” give Trump permission to use his music.
Queen’s Brian May noted that Trump never asked permission to use “We Are The Champions.”
In 2016, Brian May released an unofficial statement saying “permission to use the track was neither sought nor given,” concerning the Queen hit “We Are The Champions” being used as Trump’s “theme song.”
May also added, “It has always been against our policy to allow Queen music to be used as a political campaigning tool.”
Queen asked Trump to stop using “We Are The Champions.”
The Queen classic “We are the Champions” played during the 2016 RNC as then-Republican nominee Donald Trump introduced his wife Melania. Queen then issued a tweet, saying that the use was against their wishes.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls Queen’s copyrights, released a statement regarding the use too, saying that they had previously asked Trump to stop playing the song.
“Sony/ATV Music Publishing has never been asked by Mr. Trump, the Trump campaign or the Trump Organisation for permission to use ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen,” the statement read, according to Forbes. “On behalf of the band, we are frustrated by the repeated unauthorised use of the song after a previous request to desist, which has obviously been ignored by Mr. Trump and his campaign.”
“Queen does not want its music associated with any mainstream or political debate in any country,” the statement continued. “Nor does Queen want ‘We are the Champions’ to be used as an endorsement of Mr. Trump and the political views of the Republican Party. We trust, hope and expect that Mr. Trump and his campaign will respect these wishes moving forward.”
But if Trump’s campaign paid to licence the song, they have no control over the usage, according to Forbes.
Earth, Wind & Fire slammed Trump for playing “September.”
Another song played at the RNC was the iconic song “September” by Earth Wind & Fire. After the song was played, the band’s Twitter account quote-tweeted Queen’s tweet about “We are the Champions.”
“Another unauthorised use (September) at the Republican Convention, against our wishes – Earth, Wind & Fire,” the tweet read.
Eddie Levert of The O’Jays took issue with Trump playing one of their songs.
The O’Jays’ song “For The Love Of Money” was used for Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.” But the band’s co-founder Eddie Levert told Billboard that when the Trump campaign used the song “Love Train” at his rallies, he took issue with it. And he says the Trump campaign wasn’t too happy about it.
“They got on me about it, said I got enough money from him so now I can kick dirt in his face,” Levert told Billboard. “But I have a right to like what I like. I have the right to pick the people I want to follow and want to be associated with. I’m for change, but I don’t think [Trump] is the guy who will take us to the change he was talking about. All I hear from him is ‘we’re gonna build a wall’ and ‘Hillary Clinton is a crook.’ What the hell? I never hear anything about how we’re gonna make America great again, just that we are.
“I wish him the best, but I don’t think he’s the man to run our country. So when he started using ‘Love Train,’ I called him up and told them, ‘Listen, man, I don’t believe in what you’re doing. I’m not with you. I don’t want you to use my voice. I’m not condoning what you’re doing.”
Paul Rodgers of the band “Free” got his lawyer involved.
When Trump’s campaign used the song “All Right Now” by the band Free during the RNC, member and co-writer Paul Rodgers took to Twitter to take issue with it.
George Harrison’s estate said the use of “Here Comes The Sun” went against their wishes.
At the same RNC, The Beatles classic “Here Comes The Sun,” written by George Harrison, was played. His estate issued a tweet saying that the use of the song was against the wishes of the estate.
But they also were sure to get a dig in.
“If it had been Beware of Darkness, then we MAY have approved it! #TrumpYourself,” the tweet read.
Luciano Pavarotti’s estate said his values don’t match Trump’s.
Luciano Pavarotti’s family asked Trump’s campaign to stop playing his rendition of Giacomo Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” during campaign events. His widow Nicoletta Mantovani Pavarotti and three daughters even told the New York Times “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”
Prince’s estate demanded that the Trump campaign stop using “Purple Rain.”
Trump was apparently using one of the late singer Prince’s most iconic songs, “Purple Rain,” at his pre-Midterm rallies in 2018. Omarr Baker, Prince’s half-brother, released a statement on behalf of the family asking Trump to stop playing the song.
“The Prince Estate has never given permission to President Trump or The White House to use Prince’s songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately,” the statement read.
It was unclear at the time if a formal cease and desist had been filed, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Steven Tyler sent a cease and desist concerning Aerosmith’s music.
Since 2015, Steven Tyler has been requesting that Trump not use Aerosmith’s music during his campaign. But in August of this year, Trump played the Aerosmith hit “Livin’ on the Edge” at a rally.
Tyler then sent out a formal cease and desist.
“By using ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ without our client’s permission, Mr. Trump is falsely implying that our client, once again, endorses his campaign and/or his presidency, as evidenced by actual confusion seen from the reactions of our client’s fans all over social media,” the letter reads, according to CBS News.
He later clarified in a tweet that his decision was not about Democrats versus Republicans, he just does not want his music being used without permission for political purposes.
Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider ended his musical relationship with Trump over conflicting political views.
Dee Snider originally granted Trump permission to use “We’re Not Gonna Take It” during his campaign trail, saying, “The song ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ is a song about rebellion, and there’s nothing more rebellious than what Donald Trump is doing right now.”
But Snider had a change of heart once he heard more about Trump’s ideologies and political positions.
“It’s very upsetting to me, ’cause I strongly don’t agree with his extremist positions,” Snider said in an interview with Loudwire.
“I have to call Donald. I have to speak to him, as a friend. He was respectful enough to call me and say, ‘How do you feel about me using this?’ And I’ve gotta be – as a friend – respectful enough to call him and say, ‘Listen, man, this has gotten wildly out of control, and I really have a problem with it.’ It’s really gotten ugly.”
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.