Californian songwriter Jim Wagner is continuing his battle against Tom Petty. Wagner claims Petty based his 2002 song 'The Last DJ' on his 2000 copyrighted song 'The Last Great Radio DJ'.In an exclusive heartfelt statement to Undercover, Wagner would like to tell his side of the story.
He writes ...
"This is the biggest cover-up and conspiracy in music history. No case in history remotely approaches this degree of wrongdoing regarding a copyrighted song".
"I wrote "The Last Great Radio DJ" about Jim Ladd, DJ at KLOS in Los Angeles. I sent him a demo of the song in July of 2000 after attaining a federal copyright. In October of 2000, Ladd led a panel discussion at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills inviting his longtime friend, Tom Petty. Ladd introduced Petty to speak. Petty said, "I always refer to Jim Ladd as the last DJ.""
"Upon release, Petty blatantly lied stating that "The Last DJ" wasn't based on anyone. In an article by the San Francisco Chronicle dated October 6, 2002, he said, "This is a fictional song. It's not based on anyone." He lied again in a Westwood One Radio interview on release date stating, "It's a fictional song, although there's some people lately that seems to think that, you know, I aimed it at them or something." It is blatant lying to identify Ladd as "the last DJ" and subsequently write a song called "The Last DJ" claiming that he didn't base his song on Ladd. In addition, Petty gave Ladd credit in album liner notes stating, "Thanks to Jim Ladd for his inspiration and courage.""
"Ladd was a party to the same lie in a letter to me dated December 4, 2002, saying, "The Tom Petty song is not about me as a person, but is written about a fictional character." Ladd's lie is proven by his own official website that states, "Or as Tom Petty calls him, 'The Last DJ.'""
"Petty responded to a Superior Court lawsuit, L.A.S.C. #322570, in a press release. He said, "I have never heard the recording the lawsuit claims influenced my song." Dr. Gerald Eskelin, a Petty musicologist, stated, "I understand your disappointment when your song was replaced by Petty's. I agree with you that it would appear that Petty knew of and likely heard your song before he wrote his." Dr. Katherine Powers, a Fulbright music scholar and Professor of Musicology, said, "I certainly can see why you reacted with the notion that Petty had heard your song." Dr. Charles Tumlinson, Director of Jazz Studies, said, "I do suspect that Petty appropriated some of your material." It is blatant lying for Petty to state that he never heard my song before writing his".
"Ladd was a party to the same lie. In his letter to me, he said, "The Tom Petty tune was actually written well before you sent me your song." There is no record of Petty writing "The Last DJ" before I sent my song to Ladd. My copyright date was July 24, 2000. His copyright was in 2002 as confirmed in album liner notes."
"There was a high degree of direct access to my song from Ladd to Petty. In addition, I fully agree with Dr. Powers in her statement comparing "The Last Great Radio DJ" and "The Last DJ." She said, "There are certainly some striking similarities, both on the level of overall artistic design as well as the level of specific events.""
"Petty said in his press release, "The plaintiff is accusing me of stealing." Blatant lying is clear indication of wrongdoing. No song was ever copied becoming a hit song, hit album, national tour, pay per view, public television broadcasts, live satellite broadcast to radio stations and theaters, broadcasts on "The Music Choice" concert series to more than 24 million cable homes nationally, CD's for sale in multiple formats, "Live at the Olympic" DVD, "The Last DJ Sessions" DVD, memorabilia and performances of Petty's song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The David Letterman Show, The Conan O'Brien Show and The Today Show. No song in history was ever infringed to this degree with Petty and Ladd blatantly lying to cover up wrongdoing."
"Ladd was immersed in Petty's project and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as "the last DJ" that Petty wrote about in "The Last DJ." Petty changed from "The Golden Circle" to "The Last DJ" just before release".
"I copyrighted "The Last Great Radio DJ" on July 24, 2000. Petty copyrighted "The Last DJ" in 2002 as confirmed in album liner notes, "All songs written by Tom Petty c 2002 Adria K Music ASCAP. I wrote my song before Petty wrote his. He copied my song rendering my work a dead commercial property now and forever. He devastated me psychologically, physically and financially. There is little left of me at 56."
The world now awaits a response from Tom Petty and Jim Ladd.