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Coldplay Sued Again: Unknown Singer Claims Band Stole Songs

January 14, 2010 12:00 AM ET

Coldplay have weathered copyright infringement claims over the past two years, when Joe Satriani, Cat Stevens and an obscure indie band all claimed authorship of "Viva la Vida." Now, Chris Martin and Co. are facing their most preposterous lawsuit yet, via a man named Sammie Lee Smith who claims the band ripped off his music for their hits "Clocks," "Trouble" and "Yellow," according to TMZ. In the lawsuit, Smith claims that since 1976, he's recorded roughly 4,000 songs on 100 tapes, and three selections from these private sessions wound up on Coldplay albums. Smith is asking the group to stop performing those songs, plus requesting some monetary compensation, of course.

Go backstage with Coldplay on their Viva la Vida tour.

We were able to suspend our disbelief when it came to the Satriani lawsuit because, however unlikely it was that Coldplay actually heard Satriani's "If I Could Fly" before penning "Viva La Vida," it still was marginally conceivable. When the Brooklyn indie band Creaky Boards alleged that Coldplay ripped off their song "The Songs I Didn't Write" for "Viva" after Chris Martin supposedly saw the band in concert, it was similarly unlikely but minutely possible. But Smith is alleging that Coldplay stole songs off cassette tapes that the band couldn't have heard. We're no lawyers but we're going to chalk this up to a "well-talented but unknown" Smith just trying to direct some attention his way after 35 years of recording.

More on Coldplay's legal troubles:

Satriani's "Viva La Vida" Copyright Suit Against Coldplay Dismissed
Joe Satriani Says Coldplay "Figured This Little Guitar Player Guy Will Leave Them Alone"
Coldplay Respond to Satriani Plagiarism Suit: "Just As Surprising To Us"
Yusuf Backs Off Claims Coldplay Violated His Copyright With "Viva"
New York Band Claims Coldplay Stole "Viva La Vida" Melody

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Song Stories

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Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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