On Monday, we reported that South Florida musician Bobby Kent was suing for royalties for the anthem, which he copyrighted in 1980 and claimed was being used by stadiums around the country without his permission. NBC 6 even ran a segment on Kent.
One problem: University of Southern California student Tommy Walker (pictured) dreamed up an identical song more than two decades before Kent's composition. Walker-- who died in 1986 at age 64--and buddy Dick Winslow copyrighted "Trojan Warriors, Charge!" back in 1955.
"If this guy is claiming that he wrote it, he's lying," says Tony Fox, director of the USC Trojan Marching Band. "USC has been using it since the 1950s. He's full of you-know-what."
"If he's copyrighted it, then he's violated Tommy and Dick's copyright," says Milo Sweet of Sweet Music, Inc., the record label which filed for the original license. "His copyright is worthless."
According to the lawsuit he filed against the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP), Kent came up with the tune-- which he called "Stadium Doo Dads"-- when he was the musical director for the San Diego Chargers in 1978. At the time, Kent was going by Ira Brandwein, according to the suit. He since changed his name.
Confronted by Riptide, Kent seemed a bit stunned. "I never knew it," he said of Tommy Walker's song. "I have no clue."
His lawyer, Richard C. Wolfe, jumped in on the conference call. "Except here's what we got. We have a registered copyright with a properly-documented certificate that has gone unchallenged for thirty years. We have years of ASCAP paying us small amounts of money, and years of the Tonight Show paying us for its use. What's this guy got? Nothing."
But Tommy Walker's invention of the theme hasn't been a well-kept secret. In 1990, Sports Illustrated wrote a story on the subject. According to SI, Walker, a World War II veteran who would go on to become director of entertainment at Disneyland, first blasted the trumpet call at a USC band practice:
"I played a few notes on the trumpet--Da-da-da-DAH-da-DAH--and the band yelled, 'Trojan warriors, charge!' " he said. "It seemed kind of effective, so we decided to try it that Saturday."
The tune was a hit on campus. Walker granted USC its rights in "perpetuity", says Tony Fox. Its popularity exploded when it was first used at Los Angeles Dodgers games. From SI:
In the spring of 1959 the Dodgers put on sale, at $1.50 apiece, 20,000 toy trumpets, all of which played one tune: "Da da da DUT da DUH." The song really took off after NBC's broadcasts of Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 1959 World Series, between the Dodgers and the White Sox.
In case you're wondering if these songs are definitely the same, here are two versions of Bobby Kent's "Stadium Doo Dads":
And here is Tommy Walker's "Trojan Warriors, Charge!" (via Flutetunes.com)
ASCAP, which represented both artists, has yet to respond to requests for comment. Of course, the natural question now is: Will there be another lawsuit thrown into the mix, especially considering that Kent has been collecting money for the song?
Asked if his university might have a legal interest in defending "Trojan Warriors, Charge!", Tony Fox says: "He doesn't want to battle USC, let me put it that way."
We've embedded sheet music for "Trojan Warriors, Charge!" with the now-famous notes circled. Note the 1955 copyright on the bottom.