MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) – Elton John did not lift the story for his hit song “Nikita” from a South African photojournalist who had a romance with a Ukrainian waitress in 1982, a US court said.
Guy Hobbs, who met the waitress on a cruise ship at the height of the Cold War, put his brief love encounter into song he called “Natasha,” the Courthouse News Service said Thursday.
The lyrics were rejected by all record labels Hobbs sent them to, including Big Pig Music, which worked with Elton John at the time, the report said.
In 1985, Elton John put out his own Cold War Romeo-and-Juliet story in “Nikita,” where he sang about his hopeless love for a female border guard in East Germany. The song was a top-10 hit in 11 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
Hobbs, who first read the lyrics to Elton John’s song in 2001, found them infringing on unique elements of his intellectual property and sued after unsuccessfully seeking compensation from the pop star and his co-writer Bernie Taupin, according to court papers cited by the Courthouse News Service.
The lawsuit was thrown out by a US district court in Illinois last October, and that verdict was confirmed by an appellate court on Wednesday.
The initial ruling confirmed similarities between the songs, including mentions of a woman’s pale eyes and letter exchanges by mail, as well as the use of repeated phrases, “you'll never know,” “to hold you” and “I need you.”
But the songs “tell different stories,” with Hobbs’ tune being a story of a brief romantic encounter and Elton John’s “the tale of man who sees and loves a woman from afar” while the two “are separated by ‘guns and gates,’” according to the latter ruling.