Johnny Marr Confronts Trump Campaign Over Use of Smiths Song at Rallies

Artists Battle Misuse of Songs in Political Campaigns.

by Nouman Rasool
Johnny Marr Confronts Trump Campaign Over Use of Smiths Song at Rallies
© Cassandra Hannagan/Getty Images

Johnny Marr, the esteemed guitarist and co-songwriter of the iconic band The Smiths, has taken a firm stance against former President Donald Trump's use of the band's music during his political rallies. This bold declaration comes after a Trump rally in South Dakota in 2023 featured the Smiths' song "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" as the crowd anticipated Trump's appearance.

Marr's reaction was swift and unequivocal. Responding to a video clip of the rally shared on social media, he expressed his disbelief and resolute opposition: "Ahh…right…OK. I never in a million years would’ve thought this could come to pass.

Consider this shit shut right down right now."

Trump's Unauthorized Song Use

The use of the Smiths' music at Trump's events is not an isolated incident.

Similar instances were reported at a recent rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, highlighting a recurring trend of Trump's campaign utilizing songs without artists' consent. This practice has drawn criticism and legal challenges from numerous artists and their estates, including Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Pharrell Williams, and the estates of Prince, David Bowie, and Tom Petty.

Notably, the Rolling Stones and Prince's estate have taken legal steps, issuing cease-and-desist orders to prevent the Trump campaign from playing their music. Despite these efforts and pledges to refrain from using certain tracks, Trump's campaign has occasionally continued to feature their songs.

The Guardian has reached out to Marr's representative for further comments on potential actions to prohibit the Trump campaign from using Smiths' tracks. Marr, who co-created "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" with Smiths frontman Morrissey in 1984, has consistently voiced his opposition to right-wing politics.

This stance starkly contrasts with Morrissey's support for Brexit and the far-right political party For Britain. Marr's disapproval of conservative figures embracing The Smiths was notably expressed when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron claimed to be a fan of the band.

Marr publicly forbade Cameron from liking their music, underscoring the ideological gap between the band's ethos and conservative politics. This recent episode further highlights the complex relationship between musicians' political beliefs and the unauthorized use of their art in political arenas.