Now, the members of the band who recorded that song, the Standells, are suing Anheuser Busch Inc. for allegedly using the song in a commercial without the band's permission.
The Standells, which includes Lawrence Tamblyn, Dick Dodd, Gary Lane and Emilio Bellisimo, filed the lawsuit May 31 in the Massachusetts district of the federal court seeking $1 million in damages from the beer maker.
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The band's San Francisco attorney, Steven Ames Brown, said the lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts because the commercials were aired there. However, he didn't know exactly when the commercials aired.
"It's wrong to use somebody's voice to sell merchandise without their permission," Brown said. "Nobody likes to be turned into an involuntary huckster."
The four-page lawsuit states that "Dirty Water," which was the band's first single, reached No. 11 on the Billboard music charts and that the performance "became classic Americana and is recognizable to a large portion of the general population."
Also named as a defendant is the advertising agency for Anheuser Busch, DDB Chicago Inc.
According to the complaint, the Standells were subject to a collective bargaining agreement between the
Under that agreement, advertisers are prohibited from using any portion of any sound recording subject to the AFTRA agreement "without separately bargaining with the principal performer and reaching an agreement regarding such use prior to any utilization of such sound track."
The agreement also allows artists to sue in court if they don't receive advance consent from an advertiser which uses their material. The advertiser also must pay fees to the record label and music publisher.
Attempts to reach representatives at Anheuser Busch were unsuccessful. The company, based in St. Louis, brews Budweiser and Michelob, among other beers. It was the top spending television sports advertiser in the nation in 2005.
Brown last year won a federal court judgment against PepsiCo Inc. on behalf of two surviving members of the 1950s band The Flamingos.
The Flamingos had alleged that their song "I Only Have Eyes For You" had been used in a commercial without permission.
A judge awarded the Flamingos $250,000.