Lifestyle & Belief

Elton John stole lyrics to 'Nikita,' South African songwriter says


Channing Tatum and Elton John perform during the 2012 Concert for the Rainforest Fund at Carnegie Hall on April 3, 2012 in New York City.


Jamie McCarthy

A South African has claimed in a US federal lawsuit that singer Elton John stole the lyrics of the 1980s hit "Nikita."

Guy Hobbs, described in various media reports as a songwriter and award-winning freelance photojournalist, filed the suit in Illinois federal court claiming he wrote a song called "Natasha" back in 1982 based on his affair with a Russian cruise ship waitress, TMZ reported.

Three years later, Hobbs said, John and lyricist Bernie Taupin copied ''substantial, original portions'' of his song, even though Hobbs had registered his copyright of "Natasha."

John's song is ostensibly about a German female body guard. According to Britain's Daily Mail, it reached number three in the UK chart in 1985 and made the top 10 in countries across the globe.

According to the suit, Hobbs had sought without success to find a music composer and in 1984 forwarded the lyrics to music publishers, including Big Pig Music. 

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Daniel Voelker, Hobbs' lawyer, said attempts to reach a settlement went unanswered, so he decided to sue.

John and Taupin's representative told the New York Post that the suit was without merit and that John was "surprised and disappointed."

A statement read: "Sir Elton and Mr. Taupin do not know the plaintiff, nor did they make use of any song lyrics he claims to have written when they wrote 'Nikita.'

"In short, the suit is completely meritless. The fact that Hobbs has chosen to wait more than 26 years after the release of 'Nikita' to bring this lawsuit calls his motives into question.

"Sir Elton John and Mr. Taupin fully expect to prevail against this baseless claim."

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