Nearly 27 years after Elton John released his Cold War-inspired single “Nikita,” the music legend and his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, are being sued for allegedly stealing the 1985 song’s lyrics. A songwriter named Guy Hobbs has filed a lawsuit through the Illinois federal court suing John and Taupin for an undisclosed amount of money, alleging copyright infringement of a song he wrote in 1982, titled “Natasha.”
However, John and longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin are not taking this matter lightly, calling the claims “baseless” and “meritless.”
John’s rep released this statement to CBS Local regarding the lawsuit: “Sir Elton John and Mr. Bernie Taupin were surprised and disappointed to learn of the lawsuit for copyright infringement brought against them by Guy Hobbs concerning the lyrics of their 80s hit ‘Nikita.’ 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.”
In his lawsuit, Hobbs claims that the lyrics of “Nikita” bear a striking resemblance to those of his “Natasha.” Hobbs’ song was supposedly inspired by an affair he had with a Russian waitress on a cruise ship, while on “Nikita,” John and collaborator George Michael sing about an East German border guard he has a crush on but can’t meet because he’s not allowed to enter the country. According to the lawsuit, Hobbs copyrighted “Natasha” before sending it out to various music publishing companies, including Big Pig, which has worked with John.
The lawsuit comes long after after the song’s original release in 1985 and subsequent top-10 chart status in both the U.K. and U.S. Hobbs alleges that he only waited this long because he has been living in Africa since 1984.
“Nikita” was released on John’s 1985 album, Ice on Fire.
–Jillian Mapes, CBS Local