Eric Clapton, the Warner Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, EMI Mills Music Inc., Rhino Entertainment, Viacom, Folkways Music Publishers, Hal Leonard LLC, and J.W. Pepper & Sons have each been named in a federal copyright suit in Nashville.
The suit, which was filed by Miles Floyd, the step-grandson of the late blues artist Armenter “Bo Carter” Chatmon, alleges that Clapton improperly credited “Corrine, Corrina” to Lead Belly on the 2013 re-release of his 1992 CD, Unplugged. Clapton’s version is listed as “Alberta,” one of several titles that “Corrine, Corrina” has been recorded under through the years.
Floyd seeks more than $5 million for royalties and for failing to give Carter his due credit, according to multiple sources.
“Corrine, Corrina,” which was reportedly licensed by Carter in 1929, has been covered numerous times by a vast array of artists, including Dean Martin, Steppenwolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Big Joe Turner, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Leo Kottke, Conor Oberst, Muddy Waters, and Bill Haley and His Comets, among others.
“I didn’t realize how important it was until I started looking at it the last couple of years,” Floyd told Nashville’s The Tennessean newspaper. “This song is a well-known song. I was really surprised.”
“This is a situation where you have the estate, the rightful owners of Bo’s intellectual property, just trying to get what’s rightfully theirs and get credit where credit is due,” Floyd attorney Barry Shrum said in the Tennessean article. “Bo created this song and started, in essence, a genre in music and influenced many performers in the future, and he deserves that credit.”
In July 2015 Rod Stewart was also named in a copyright suit over this song by Carter’s heirs, but that suit was ultimately dropped a few months later.