Rick Astley is suing rapper Yung Gravy for millions, claiming that he used an unauthorized imitation of his signature deep voice on the single “Betty (Get Money).”
According to Deadline, Astley, the singer behind the hit ’80s classic “Never Gonna Give You Up,” filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit in Los Angeles Thursday (January 26). The suit claims only the instrumentals on the song were licensed. Astley’s distinctive voice is a resource that needs to be licensed separately, and he didn’t give permission for that.
“In an effort to capitalize off of the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr. Astley,” Yung Gravy and his producers are accused of conspiring “to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song.” Astley is also suing Nick Seeley (aka Popnick), the vocal impersonator on the “Betty” track.
“The public could not tell the difference. The imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful the public believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing,” the documents read. Astley’s lawyers added that the singer-songwriter is “extremely protective over his name, image, and likeness.” They say the unauthorized use of the soundalike voice had caused him “immense damage.”
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Astley, 56, claims permission was never granted to use or impersonate his voice. The legal documents claim Astley was looking for a way to incorporate his voice in a future project in collaboration with another artist. He feels that prospect has now been ruined.
Last year, Yung Gravy, real name Matthew Raymond Hauri, said in an interview with Billboard that he had spoken with Astley. The 26-year-old rapper said he had not only approved of the song but that he “f—s with” it.
Back in August, Astley recreated his iconic “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video for car insurance company AAA. On recreating the original music video, Astley said it “has been an amazing trip down memory lane. The song has been so good to me, and I’m thrilled to be working with another iconic brand that has certainly stood the test of time.”
He added, “Listen, let’s face it, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ has sort of become something else. The video and the song have drifted off into the ether and become something else, and I’m ever so grateful for it.”