Before Britney Spears was born, there was this really great singer-songwriter named Tom Waits. Known for his delivering his saloon songs in an easily identified gravelly voice, he would go on to be one of the most creative artists of our time. He’s also really funny, as numerous appearances on Letterman have shown.
Anyway, he’s suing General Motors over ads featuring a sound-alike that have appeared in Northern Europe. Read all about it in Harp magazine.
“Apparently,” Waits said, “the highest compliment our culture grants nowadays is to be in an ad–ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car. I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor. Currently accepting in my absence is my German doppelganger. While the court can’t make me active in radio, I’m asking it to make me radioactive to the advertisers.”
It’s not the first time this has happened to Waits. In 1988 Frito-Lay similarly used a Waits impersonator to sell its SalsaRio Doritos corn chips to radio listeners. The advertisement used a jingle based on Waits’ own “Step Right Up” and employed a dead-on Waits impersonator named Stephen Carter. Waits successfully sued Frito Lay and its ad agency, Tracy-Locke, Inc. for $2.6 million. In 1999 Waits told Newsweek, “Two and a half million bucks. Spent it all on candy. My mom told me I was foolish. I’ve always been foolish when it comes to money.”
He’s kidding about the candy. See, I told you he was funny.