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  • Flamingos Take a Bite Out of Pepsi

    Wed, 01 Feb 2006 14:10:43

    Flamingos Take a Bite Out of Pepsi - Soft drink giant forced to pay doo-wop group for unlicensed use of "I Only Have Eyes For You."

    PepsiCo Inc. and its advertising company have been ordered to pay $250,000 to The Flamingos for using the band's hit song, "I Only Have Eyes For You," in a commercial that ran nationwide during 1997. The money will be paid to Tommy Hunt and Terry Johnson, the two surviving members of the group, and to the estates of the deceased members.

    A collective bargaining agreement makes it necessary for advertisers to receive permission and typically pay fees to publishers, labels and performers alike for the use of their songs. A Pepsi spokesman said that, in this case, the failure to seek permission from the performers was an oversight. Winning attorney Steven Ames Brown, however, makes a much more serious charge.

    "Pepsi routinely pays the Caucasian performers who appear on camera, but refuses to pay the African-American singers whose voices are used in the soundtrack unless they sue," Brown said.

    "That's completely inaccurate," countered Pepsi's Dave DeCecco. "We have a long history and strong track record of supporting diversity in our advertising." A number of African-American singers and athletes have been prominently featured in Pepsi commercial campaigns, including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé Knowles and Shaquille O'Neal.

    "I Only Have Eyes For You" is a signature song of the doo-wop era, and provided The Flamingos with their biggest chart success. The group split apart in the early 1960s, with both Hunt and Johnson pursuing solo careers. The Flamingos were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

    --The ARTISTdirect Staff

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