Just hours after a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” was played at a Donald Trump political rally in Indiana. The songwriter says he did not authorize use of the song and a cease-and-desist letter sent by the musician’s lawyer, Howard King, outlined the specific horror the musician felt given the context.
Dear Mr. Trump,
We write to you an behalf of our client, Pharrell Williams, composer and performer of the hit song, “Happy.” On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged “nationalist,” you played his song “Happy” to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing “happy” about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.
Pharrell Williams is the owner of the copyright in “Happy,” with the exclusive right to exploit same. Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music.
Williams, a Grammy winner, Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and a supporter of arts education, is not the first musician to object to use of one of their songs at Trump rallies and campaign events. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Neil Young, R.E.M., Queen, Prince’s estate, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones have all protested.