Johnny Cash Label Sends Cease-and-Desist to White Nationalist Radio Show

Universal Music and American Recordings accuse Stormfront Radio of "unlawfully exploiting" singer's Tom Petty cover

A white supremacist website will stop using Johnny Cash's cover of "I Won't Back Down" after being hit with a cease-and-desist letter. Credit: David Redfern/Redferns

A white supremacist website will stop using Johnny Cash's cover of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" as the theme of its weekly radio broadcasts after Universal Music and American Recordings sent a cease-and-desist letter to the hate-based organization.

Stormfront Radio, the weekly radio show for the white supremacist site Stormfront, stopped using Cash's version of the Petty tune in early September after receiving legal action from the labels, NPR reports.

In the cease-and-desist letter, obtained by NPR, Universal Music accused Stormfront Radio of "unlawfully exploiting" the song; since Cash's "I Won't Back Down" is the show's theme music, it features in hundreds of archived and downloadable episodes of Stormfront Radio.

Universal Music and American Recordings reiterated in the letter that they "have not licensed, granted permission, or otherwise authorized" Stormfront Radio's use of the song.

On September 6th, after the cease-and-desist letter was sent to Stormfront Radio, the show's host Patrick Slattery assigned blame for the legal action.

"These Jews are trying to crack down on us every way they can," Slattery said (via NPR). "Who else is going to go after our theme music, really? The music industry is an industry they [Jewish people] have been dominating since Tin Pan Alley... they dominate the music industry today, that's for sure."

"There aren't 'two sides,' there are no 'decent' or 'fine' Nazis and we will not tolerate any such group using our dad's work for their purposes," Rosanne Cash tells Rolling Stone on behalf of the Cash family.

A rep for Rense Radio Network, the organization that distributes Stormfront's content online, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In August, the Cash family issued a blistering statement where they vehemently condemned white nationalist groups like neo-Nazis and the KKK after a white supremacist at the Charlottesville, Virginia protests was filmed wearing a Johnny Cash shirt.

"We were sickened by the association," the Cash family wrote. "To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology. We Choose Love."