Thom Yorke vs David Cameron and the musicians who said "don't use my songs!"

The Radiohead singer has threatened to "sue the s***" out of David Cameron if he used his band's songs in an election campaign - but he's not the first rock star to say no to a political fan

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Thom Yorke vs David Cameron and the musicians who said "don't use my songs!"
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Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke has threatened to “sue the living s***” out of David Cameron if the Prime Minister uses any of his music in a future election campaign.

"I can't say I love the idea of a banker liking our music, or David Cameron.

“I can't believe he'd like [2011 album] King of Limbs much. But I also equally think, who cares? … As long as he doesn't use it for his election campaigns, I don't care. I'd sue the living s*** out of him if he did," he told Dazed and Confused. 

Strong words indeed. Especially as Cameron reportedly introduced US President Barack Obama to Radiohead’s scintillating sounds during a meeting at Westminster in 2008…

But Mr. Yorke’s hardly the first musician to express horror at the idea of our political overlords using their art to win votes. So, as we wait for the writs to start flying, let’s take a look back at some other infamous muso/politico disagreements from years gone by:

This Charmless Man

Back in 2010, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr made headlines when he publicly ordered David Cameron to stop claiming to be a fan of the Mancunian indie band. Following the Tory leader enthusing about The Smiths on Desert Island Discs, Marr wrote: “Stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don't.” In fact, he went so far as to tell the PM: “I forbid you to like it.”

Things Didn’t Get Better

D:Ream, the ‘90s pop band that famously featured TV heartthrob Professor Brian Cox on keyboards, provided the soundtrack for New Labour’s electoral campaign in 1997 with their song Things Can Only Get Better. But the group’s relationship with the party soured as the years went by and Labour’s opinion poll rating fell through the floor, leading singer Peter Cunnah to say in 2009: “If Gordon Brown called me today I wouldn’t sing for them again.”

Looking Back in Anger

While Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher was once so chummy with Tony Blair that he claimed to have taken cocaine in the Downing Street toilet reserved for the Queen, his opinion of the then-PM changed quite radically over the decade Blair spent in office. He blasted Blair in 2007 for “acting like a President” and then joked that he was sick of “taking flak” from people after Blair professed to be an Oasis fan. Mind you, Noel doesn’t like David Cameron much either - he once described the Tory leader as “a songwriter who's eternally ripping off someone else's song”.

Not so Keane

Piano-based posters Keane took to Twitter in 2010 to reveal how “horrified” they’d been to learn that the Tories had used one of their songs as the soundtrack to the Conservative Party’s election manifesto launch. Drummer Richard Hughes wrote at the time: “told the tories played keane at their manifesto launch. am horrified. to be clear - we were not asked. i will not vote for them.” 

No Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones got into a spat with Angela Merkel in 2005, when the future German Chancellor used their song Angie (which contains the refrain “Angie, you’re beautiful”) as part of her election campaign. While the politician claimed she had obtained permission to use the track, a Rolling Stones rep said that no such right had been granted and said: “We are surprised that nobody has asked us. We would probably have said 'no' if they had.”

It breaks your Heart…

Across the Pond, Canadian rock veterans Heart publicly urged Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin to stop using the group’s 1977 single Barracuda as part of their 2008 election campaign. At the time, the band released a statement saying “The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music.” Though front-woman Nancy Wilson was more direct during an interview with EW, in which she said: “I think it's completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely f***** over."