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Standells rock group says Budweiser plays `Dirty'

June 12, 2006|Andrew Ryan | The Associated Press

BOSTON — The song "Dirty Water" blares at Fenway Park after every Red Sox victory and has become part of the winning soundtrack of baseball-crazy Massachusetts.

But the band that wrote the 1966 hit says it is also used in Budweiser commercials, and for that the rock 'n' rollers are none too happy.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 14, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 77 words Type of Material: Correction
Standells lawsuit: An article in Monday's Calendar said the Standells wrote the 1966 hit "Dirty Water." The song was written by Ed Cobb, the rock group's producer. Also, the article said a lawsuit filed by the group claims that the use of the song in an Anheuser-Busch commercial without the band's permission violated copyright law. The suit argues that the use of the group's recording violated an American Federation of Television and Radio Artists collective bargaining agreement.

The Standells filed a federal lawsuit last week claiming that Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. used "Dirty Water" without permission in commercials to try to tap into the song's connection with the team.

"An advertiser decided to turn an artist into a pitchman without their consent," the Standells' attorney, Steven Ames Brown, said Friday. "That's morally wrong."

The Standells are seeking more than $1 million in compensation from the St. Louis-based beer maker.

Anheuser-Busch said in a written statement Friday that it has yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit and will not comment until it reviews the complaint.

The Los Angeles-based Standells had its first taste of fame with "Dirty Water," which hit No. 11 on Billboard's Top 40 chart. The song is an ode to Boston and its once infamously polluted waterways.

"Down by the banks of the River Charles," drummer Dick Dodd sings in a guttural wail. "I love that dirty water.... Oh, Boston, you're my home."

The Standells learned of the Budweiser commercials when its record company received a "substantial" royalty payment for use of the song, according to the band's attorney.

Royalties are one thing, Brown said, but copyright law requires that advertisers receive permission before using a work in a commercial.

It has not been established where or how often any Budweiser "Dirty Water" commercials have appeared. Anheuser-Busch has not been forthcoming with those details, which will have to be determined in court, Brown said.

The relationship between the Standells and the Red Sox, however, has been amicable. Members of the band, which broke up in the 1970s, embraced the enthusiasm for "Dirty Water."

The band even performed the song live at Fenway Park before Game 2 of the 2004 World Series.

Oh, and the Red Sox won.

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