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White Stripes Threaten 'Strong Action' Over Air Force's Super Bowl Ad

February 9, 2010 12:00 AM ET

The White Stripes and their management have accused the Air Force Reserve of swiping "Fell in Love with a Girl" for a recruitment commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. "We believe our song was re-recorded and used without permission of the White Stripes, our publishers, label or management," the band writes in a statement on their official Website. "We have not licensed this song to the Air Force Reserve and we plan to take strong action to stop the ad containing this music." Watch the offending commercial on the Air Force Reserve site. UPDATE: The video and page housing it have both been pulled from the Air Force Reserve site and the songwriter has responded to the band's complaint.

A short history of rock stars in Super Bowl ads

A comparison of the White Blood Cells single and the Air Force Reserve commercial reveals that the music is nearly exactly the same, with Jack White's guitar riffs firmly intact and another guitar replicating the cadence of the original vocal medley. The commercial initially seems like an X Games ad until three fighter jets fly into frame during its final seconds. The "Grab Some Air" recruitment spot "features the high-octane thrills of action sports at its best. This is sure to capture the interest of even the most enthusiastic sports fan," the Air Force Reserve site writes while listing two-dozen television markets where the ad will air. The Air Force Reserve makes no mention of the White Stripes.

"The White Stripes takes strong insult and objection to the Air Force Reserves presenting this advertisement with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war we do not support," the Stripes write. "The White Stripes support this nation's military, at home and during times when our country needs and depends on them. We simply don't want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict, and hope for a safe and speedy return home for our troops."

The "Fell in Love with a Girl" saga is the latest chapter in a long history of rockers lashing out against government officials and agencies for using their music without permission. As Rolling Stone reported last week, Joe Walsh engaged in a battle of open letters against a politician also named Joe Walsh after the rep re-recorded Walsh's James Gang track "Walk Away" for a campaign video. That video has since be taken off YouTube "due to a copyright claim by Joe Walsh," though it's unclear which Walsh had it removed.

Related Stories:
Joe Walsh Vs. Joe Walsh: Rocker Battles Politician Over "Walk Away"
"Stop Using My Song, Republicans!": A Guide to Disgruntled Rockers
Jackson Browne Settles With GOP Over "Running on Empty" Ad Use

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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