A founding member of the band Survivor has sued Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for playing the hit song “Eye of the Tiger” at a September rally for controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
The lawsuit — filed in federal court Wednesday by Rude Music, Inc., which is owned by guitarist and songwriter Frankie Sullivan — alleges the former Arkansas governor violated copyright law when his campaign played the 1980s song following Davis’ dramatically publicized release from jail earlier this year. Davis had spent five nights behind bars for defying a federal judge’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Survivor members immediately distanced themselves from Davis after the rally and blasted Huckabee for using their song, which is best known from the 1982 movie “Rocky III.” In a statement on the band’s Facebook page, Sullivan said they did not grant Davis any rights to use “Eye of the Tiger” and issued a veiled threat to Huckabee: “See Ya really SoooooooonnnnnnN!!!!!!”
This isn’t the first time a politician has run afoul of a musician for unauthorized song use. Earlier this year, Republican front-runner Donald Trump drew the ire of Neil Young when the real estate mogul played the song “Rockin’ in the Free World” during his presidential campaign launch.
It’s also not the first time this particular band has taken legal action against a Republican presidential candidate. In 2012, Survivor sued former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for playing “Eye of the Tiger” at his campaign rallies. Gingrich eventually settled.
Survivor’s latest suit seeks unspecified damages and a judge order that Huckabee’s campaign stop using their song. In an emailed statement to MSNBC, Huckabee's senior communications adviser Hogan Gidley said the campaign would not "be bullied."
"Mr. Sullivan is demanding an amount of money that exceeds the average yearly salary of a hard-working American simply because a snippet of his song was played briefly at a rally," Gidley said. "The campaign offered Mr. Sullivan fair compensation, but that offer was rejected. We refuse to be bullied."