Donald Trump can get away with almost anything—except using the wrong music.
The Rolling Stones threatened Trump with a cease and desist order in 2018 after he used two of their songs during his victory. Last week they had to do it again when he used “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for his walk-off song at his rally in Oklahoma.
The Tom Petty family also sent a cease and desist order to the Trump campaign because he used “Won’t Back Down” at the same Oklahoma rally. The Petty family stated that the late musician would never support a “campaign of hate” that “leaves too many Americans and common sense behind.”
Surely Trump must be kidding us right now. Did he really think Rolling Stones, the band whose guitarist literally pulled a knife on Trump in 1989, would allow this? Or Tom Petty, the man whose last album, the 2014 Hypnotic Eye was dense with songs about political injustices like unchecked greed of the one percent and the Catholic church’s sex scandals, would let his campaign use his music?
It’s simply laughable.
However, we have recently discovered that many fans tend to overlook the true meanings of certain songs or completely ignore the lyrics altogether. We saw it with Black Sabbath fans were disappointed that the band “suddenly” became political when they printed Black Lives Matter shirts; or when a fan of Rage Against The Machine called out the frontman Tom Morello on Twitter for expressing his leftist political views on social media even though he is an ardent activist.
If the president even is a fan, he definitely falls into that ignorant-fan category.
From the start, Trump’s campaign has been riddled with artists telling him to keep their music out of his rallies. Below is a list of musicians who did just that—and you should be a fan if you aren’t already.
In 2015, Neil Young, R.E.M., and Aerosmith all gave Trump the big F-U when the president used their music during his campaign. Trump used Young’s song “Rockin’ In the Free World” to announce his presidency, and Young immediately posted that Trump was “not authorized” to use it and that he himself was a Bernie supporter. Then when Trump used R.E.M.s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” at his rally to oppose the Iran deal, the group issued a cease and desist and the frontman literally told Trump “go fuck yourself” via Twitter. Then Trump played “Livin’ On the Edge” at his West Virginia rally, to which Aerosmith instantly sent a cease and desist order for.
Then 2016 rolled around and Trump had the audacity to play music from Adele, Elton John, Queen, Earth Wind & Fire, The Beatles, and again, the Rolling Stones at his rallies. Each of the artists and their representatives stated they do not support Trump and denied ever giving permission for his campaign to use their music.
In 2017, Twisted Sister’s guitarist and one-time Celebrity Apprentice contestant Dee Snider personally asked Trump to stop using their song “We’re Not Gonna Take It”—one of the only times Trump actually complied.
In 2018, Pharrell, Rihanna, and Guns N’ Roses all told Trump to get his greedy fingers off their music. With both Pharrell and Rihanna sending him a cease and desist. Gun N’ Roses even explained the illegality on Twitter.
In 2019, Trump tweeted a version of Nickleback’s famous song “Photograph” manipulated to be about former Vice President Joe Biden’s ties to Ukraine, which the band worked to remove from the platform. Then Trump played the late Prince’s song “Purple Rain” at his Minneapolis rally and, of course, the high priest of pop’s reps weren’t having it.
That leads us all back to 2020. You already know about Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones condemning the president. But did you also know Panic! At the Disco literally tweeted “fuck you” to the Trump Campaign after they used “High Hopes” at his Phoenix rally earlier this month?
Who is Trump going to try next? Maybe he should look into The Strokes, Soccer Mommy, or other groups who played at Bernie Sanders rallies. It would be funny to see him try.