The Los Angeles Times profiled Eddie Johns, a struggling LA resident whose story reflects thorny issues behind sampling and music publishing.
Eddie Johns, whose 1979 track "More Spell On You" was sampled by Daft Punk for the Discovery hit "One More Time," has never seen royalties from the hit track.
The Los Angeles Times tracked down Johns in LA, where he's been living in a supportive housing facility after struggling with houselessness for over a decade. Johns, who recorded the disco track in late '70s Paris, suffered a stroke ten years ago which left him unable to work.
"I help Eddie use the computer sometimes, and he showed me some of his music," Johns' case manager Alyssa Cash told the Los Angeles Times. "He showed me his album cover, and when I found this video talking about how it was sampled by Daft Punk, it was like a lightbulb went off. That's Eddie, this is his song.'"
The profile, written by August Brown, delves into some of the knottier issues behind sampling. Daft Punk officially licensed the track and has been paying royalties since its release in the year 2000. "Daft Life LTD. is paying royalties twice a year to the producer and owner of 'More Spell on You,'" a Daft Punk representative told the paper.
However, the rights to the recording are now owned by a French label and publishing company, GM Musipro, whose specialty is reissuing vintage French records.
"We have not heard from [Johns] since the day we acquired in 1995 a catalog from another label that featured this title," GM Musipro founder George Mary wrote in an e-mail. "We have tried to do research on him, but without any result. For our part, we are going to study his file and do the accounts to his credit. We will get back to him immediately on this subject, at the same time as we will inform him of his rights."
Johns is listed as a writer and performer on "More Spell On You," with Gérard Salesses listed as the song's composer. "I was so caught up in everything that I didn't get legal protection," the Liberian-born Johns says on his time in Paris when he was cutting records like the 1979 More Spell On You full-length.
Check out the full profile via the Los Angeles Times. We'll report on any further developments.
Watch a video demonstrating how "More Spell On You" was used in "One More Time."