Toots moves to secure royalties

Monday, August 10, 2020

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TOOTS Hibbert — frontman for Toots and the Maytals — said he has instructed a team of intellectual property managers to investigate who has been collecting publishing and royalties for his 1966 Jamaica Festival Song, Bam Bam.

Hibbert, 77, said he has never collected royalties for the song.

“Not a cent... I am the writer, the arranger, the composer, the singer and the producer of the original song,” he told Jamaica Observer.

According to Hibbert, he is listed as the principal songwriter in the US Copyright Office in Washington DC.

Cabel Stephenson, manager of Toots and the Maytals, said the singer has also instructed his publishers to do a thorough forensic accounting of all those who have covered his song without giving him credit.

“It is well established and cannot be dispute that he is the owner of his song and it was also registered in the House of Congress in the United States of America, so all who have been using his copyright without contacting him will soon discover who is the true intellectual copyright owner of this song. It's a matter of long run, short catch,” he told the Observer.

The copyright law of the United States grants monopoly protection for “original works of authorship”. The exclusive rights are subject to a time limit, and generally expire 70 years after the author's death. In the United States, any work published before January 1, 1925, is generally considered public domain.

Sister Nancy's 1982 version of Bam Bam has gained worldwide popularity. Produced by Winston Riley, it borrows heavily from the chorus of the 1966 festival song.

Riley, 68, died on January 2012 from a gunshot wound he received to the head two months earlier.

Sister Nancy's version made it to the soundtrack of the 1998 film Belly.

Lauryn Hill interpolated it in her song, Lost Ones, from the 1998 album, 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Kanye West featuring Rihanna sampled Bam Bam on the 2016 song Famous from The Life of Pablo.

Beyoncé used a sample of Bam Bam interpolated with her live performance of Hold Up from her 2016 album Lemonade.

Jay-Z, sampled the song in Bam from the 2017 album 4:44. Jay-Z actually travelled to Jamaica to record the music video for Bam. While on his visit, he met Sister Nancy, who is featured in the video.

Hibbert said that he met Sister Nancy in the backstage area at a festival backstage in Europe years ago.

“She came to me and told me she never know that it was my song, and the song was done before she was born. At the time, I respected her as an artiste trying to help herself and this song provided a lot of help for her career. So there's no ill will, just the business,” he said.

Hibbert was a contestant in this year's Jamaica Festival Song Competition, which was won by Buju Banton. His upcoming project, Got To Be Tough, is slated for release on August 28 on the Trojan Jamaica/BMG Records imprint.

Bam Bam is a very dear project to me, because it was my first festival song winner. When I saw what was going on in the world , what the world was coming to...I came up with what a bam bam, to talk about what I saw around me, the fighting, the taking things that was not theirs, the killing. It's a bam bam, what a bam bam, it has several meanings. Even a sexy girl walking down the road, you can appreciate her and say: 'What a bam bam!',” Hibbert added.

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