Bobby Valentino

Bluebells court case press (Evening Standard)

Musician wins plea to judge with a serenade
By Harriet Arkell

A MUSICIAN who serenaded the judge with a violin from the witness box today won a copyright battle over a pop song entitling him to £100,000 in royalties. Bobby Valentino said he was “absolutely delighted” with the judge’s decision that he was joint author and copyright owner of The Bluebells’ version of Young At Heart, which topped the charts in the eighties and again in the Nineties after it was used as the theme for a major TV advertising campaign. Mr Valentino - real name Robert Beckingham - claimed he was entitled to a share in the copyright of the song and sued former Bluebells member Robert Hodgens and former Bana-narama member Sioban Fahey, the pair co-wrote the song originally recorded by Bananarama in 1983. At the opening of the case at London’s High Court last month Mr Valentino said he wrote the famous violin riff for the Bluebells’ version of the song when he worked as a session musician with the band in February 1984. Mr Valentino, 45 - once a member of the Fabulous Poodles and the Hank Wangford Band - said he made a sig-nificant and original contribution to the work and therefore was entitled to a share of the copyright proceeds of the recording re-released in 1993 following it’s use as the background to a hugely successful Volkswagen television campaign. To prove his point, he gave Deputy Judge Christopher Floyd QC a live performance of parts of the song in the courtroom, complete with violin, acoustic guitar and amplifier.

The unusual testimony worked and today the judge upheld Mr Valentino’s claim and said he was entitled to a share of the royalties.

The musician, who also works as a model and Clark Gable lookalike, said afterwards: “I’m absolutely delighted with the outcome. It is probably fair to say this is my biggest ever pay day, but I wish the case never had to come this far:

“It was the oddest venue I’ve ever played in but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the acoustics weren’t bad at all.”

Universal Music/Anxious Music Ltd, Clive Banks Music Ltd, Universal Music Publishing Ltd and London Records 90 Ltd were also defendants to the action but today’s award was only against Mr Hodgens.

Mr Hodgens denied that Mr Valentino wrote the violin part, and argued that the session player simply had to play under the direction of a pre-existing musical part of the song.

Alternatively he claimed that, even if Mr Valentino did more than that, his composition was neither original nor substantial enough to attract a share of the copyright.

Now Mr Valentino’s lawyers will be seeking details from the recording companies of the sales of the 1993 version of Young At Heart to draw up a claim which will be heard by a High Court official in a attempt to reach agreement before any further court action. Mr Valentino will be seeking about £100.000 in damages for the unpaid royalties.

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