You know at a stadium, when they play that "Charge!" thing over the PA? It's the kind of annoying tradition that people never stop and think about -- and certainly people never wonder who first came up with it.
Well Bobby Kent (pictured), co-owner of Pompano Beach's Hollbrand Music Publishers, says he invented that shit in 1978, when he was the musical director for the San Diego Chargers. And now he wants to get paid.
In a lawsuit filed last week in Miami-Dade County against the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Kent claims that the licensing corporation negotiated "blanket licenses" including his song to the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA and NASCAR, without payment or his permission.
Kent says he copyrighted "Stadium Doo Dads" in 1981, and received $10,000 to $20,000 a year from the San Diego Chargers for its use, according to the suit. (At the time, Kent was going by Ira Brandwein. He since changed his name.) "The operative and most commonly known part of Kent's Composition goes 'da da da da da da... CHARGE!' the suit says. ASCAP has "collected millions of dollars" from his creation, Kent claims, and failed to track "performances" of the song that could have netted millions more in royalties.
In preparation for the suit, Kent's Brickell-based attorney Richard C. Wolfe says he wrote letters to major sports teams demanding information on their use of the song. The worst offender: the Texas Rangers. By the attorney's count, "they used it 31 times during the World Series."
But wait, it's not simple. A little bit of digging from Gus Garcia-Roberts at Miami New Times shows that a University of Southern California student named Tommy Walker dreamed up an identical song more than two decades before Kent's composition. Walker -- who died in 1986 at age 64 -- and buddy Dick Winslow copyrighted "Trojan Warriors, Charge!" back in 1955.
"If this guy is claiming that he wrote it, he's lying," says Tony Fox, director of the USC Trojan Marching Band. "USC has been using it since the 1950s. He's full of you-know-what."
"If he's copyrighted it, then he's violated Tommy and Dick's copyright," says Milo Sweet of Sweet Music, Inc., the record label which filed for the original license. "His copyright is worthless."
Tommy Walker's invention of the theme hasn't been a well-kept secret. In 1990, Sports Illustrated wrote a story on the subject. According to SI, Walker, a World War II veteran who would go on to become director of entertainment at Disneyland, first blasted the trumpet call at a USC band practice:
"I played a few notes on the trumpet--Da-da-da-DAH-da-DAH--and the band yelled, 'Trojan warriors, charge!' " he said. "It seemed kind of effective, so we decided to try it that Saturday."
The tune was a hit on campus. Walker granted USC its rights in "perpetuity", says Tony Fox. Its popularity exploded when it was first used at Los Angeles Dodgers games. From SI:
In the spring of 1959 the Dodgers put on sale, at $1.50 apiece, 20,000 toy trumpets, all of which played one tune: "Da da da DUT da DUH." The song really took off after NBC's broadcasts of Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 1959 World Series, between the Dodgers and the White Sox.
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Asked if his university might have a legal interest in defending "Trojan Warriors, Charge!", Tony Fox says: "He doesn't want to battle USC, let me put it that way."
To hear the different version of the Charge! song, go here.