Sweet Little Sixteen vs. Surfin' USA

Sweet Little Sixteen vs. Surfin' USAChuck Berry released Sweet Little Sixteen in 1958. The Beach Boys released Surfin' USA in 1963. They're essentially the same song.

Here's Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen:

Here's The Beach Boys' Surfin' USA:

The sole songwriter credited by The Beach Boys on Surfin' USA was Brian Wilson. Chuck Berry had to sue to get a co-writing credit. Even then, Murry Wilson turned the copyright over to Berry without ever informing Brian.

There are plenty of good examples of songs copying other songs without crediting the original songwriter, but I don't believe there's an example as obvious as this first top ten hit by The Beach Boys.

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!

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Mississauga Phil

I'd say Dani California by the Chilli's is as blatant a rip off of Tom Petty as this example.

Love RHCP, but it is pretty bad....

July 3, 2012 @ 11:26 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mississauga Phil

Dani California is most definitely a rip-off of Last Dance for Mary Jane, but it's not as blatant as The Beach Boys ripping off Chuck Berry IMHO.

The Offspring ripping off The Beatles with Why Don't You Get a Job? is also pretty bad...

In 2004 I wrote about a few more: http://www.torontomike.com/2004/01/similar_sounding_songs.html

July 3, 2012 @ 11:31 AM

Mississauga Phil

@ Mike - In the case of the Offspring, I've never actually checked, but I'd have to Imagine (get the pun) that they have given credit to Lennon/McCartney...there's no claiming that is was a "sonic coincident" on that one.

As far as Dani California goes, Tom Petty was a complete class act about it, I watching/reading (can't remember) an interview where he basically said that he couldn't see a band as talented and successful as RHCP intentionally ripping him off. That's class right there folks, taking the high road (again with the puns...)

July 3, 2012 @ 1:11 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mississauga Phil

"Why Don't You Get a Job?" is solely credited to Dexter Holland I believe. No writing credit to Lennon/McCartney.

July 3, 2012 @ 1:14 PM

Mississauga Phil


I can't believe whoever owns the rights to "Life Goes On" let that slip without a lawsuit.

I'd guess that whomever owns the rights got paid and could just care less about writing credits. Since The surviving Beatles (and the estates of the dead ones) don't own the rights to a lot of the Beatles catalog.

July 3, 2012 @ 1:25 PM

Javed Jafri

well to kind of bring this post full circle there's a song by Dave Lowry and Camper Van Beethoven called Northern California Girls that's not a rip but more of a homage to the Beach Boys "progressive" period and albums such as Holland also a nod in the title to California Girls.

Here's what Dave Lowry said about the song:
It's like Camper Van Beethoven leaning towards the Beach Boys' Big Sur period and the Grateful Dead. There's this Beach Boys album called 'Holland' that we have long had a fascination with in Camper, and we sort of ended up paying tribute to it by accident." The track "Northern California Girls," he says, also takes a page out of the Beach Boys' songbook; "Instead of 'California Girls' I started fucking around and singing about northern California girls," he says. "Then I very quickly developed a story to it and finished it off."


Homage or rip it's part of the rock tradition and remember the high profile case of George Harrison and My Sweet Lord and it's basis in a Chiffon's song. Granted not exactly the same song as with SUSA and SLS.

March 19, 2017 @ 3:57 PM

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