Johnny Depp and the guitarist jeff beck were accused of copying lyrics from a poem called “Hobo Ben” for their single “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade”: the script was created by Slim Wilson, a man who served time in jail for murder in 1974.
“Hobo Ben” is a black folk poetry and was documented in the book “Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me” by American folklorist Bruce Jackson (1974), who knew Wilson. The book also contains texts from other prisoners.
According to an article in “Rolling Stone” magazine, “Sad Montherfuckin’ Parade” contains lines similar to those written by Slim, since they begin with the following words: “Ladies of culture and beauty so refined, is there any among you give me wine? I’m ragged, I know, but I don’t smell bad, and God bless the lady who’ll buy me a drink,” he later continues, “Hattie, wide-hipped, turned to Nadine with a laugh and said, “What that motherfucker funky really needs girl it’s a bath”.
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The actor and Beck’s theme also uses the same phrases, “I’m ragged, I know, but I don’t smell bad,” “God bless the lady who’ll buy me a drink,” and “What that funky f… you really need, boy, it’s a bath.”
Jackson explained that in all the lines of the duet’s song he only found two phrases that they contributed, while the rest were entirely Bruce’s.
“Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book. I have never come across anything like this. I’ve been posting stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time someone has copied something and put their own name on it,” he is quoted as saying.
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In the song, credits of both the prisoner and Jackson were not added.
What is known, so far, about Slim Wilson whose real name is Willie Davis is that he was 50 years old when he met the folklorist, served his sentence in the Missouri State Penitentiary for armed robbery and was, in Jackson’s opinion , one of the best narrators of poetry.
Regarding the accusation of the singers, the magazine reported that the representative of Deep and Beck, has not given any statement.