AP, YouTube

Eric Clapton Hit With Lawsuit Raising Questions About the Origin of the Blues

Oct 28, 2016  •  Post A Comment

The heirs of a pioneering Mississippi blues musician have filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against rock guitarist Eric Clapton, saying he credited the wrong artist with writing the song “Alberta” on his “Unplugged” album.

Clapton reportedly credited Huddie Ledbetter — aka Lead Belly — with writing the song, but the heirs of Bo Carter say he should have received the credit, the AP reports.

“Clapton’s song was actually a cover of Carter’s ‘Corrine, Corrina,’ which was first licensed in 1929 and over time became interchangeable with ‘Alberta,’ said Miles Floyd, Carter’s step-grandson,” the AP reports.

Barry Shrum, a lawyer for Floyd, is quoted saying: “This is a situation where you have the estate, the rightful owners of Bo’s intellectual property, just trying to get what’s rightfully theirs and get credit where credit is due. Bo created this song and started, in essence, a genre in music and influenced many performers in the future, and he deserves that credit.”

“Carter sometimes performed with his brothers as the Mississippi Sheiks, considered one of the most prominent African-American string bands of the 1930s,” the AP reports. “The Sheiks covered the song using ‘Alberta, Alberta’ instead of ‘Corrine, Corrina’ and called it ‘Alberta Blues,’ according to the lawsuit.”

The report notes that Lead Belly recorded a song called “Alberta” in 1940, but it was a different song.


  1. On the one hand, pay up. Rockers pillaged the works of the great blues pioneers for years, often without acknowledgement. Whatever they ask is not enough.

    On the other hand, US copyright law is out of control. The intent was originally to allow an artist to profit for a while, but with an end date, encouraging further creation. Instead we now have a copyright that lasts 70 years after the artist’s life! All because Mickey Mouse was going to be public domain. That just encourages corporate sloth and greed. The founding fathers had it right the first time– let’s go back to it.

    • “On the one hand, pay up.” I’m only going by the story, but it sounds like your comment isn’t altogether fair to Clapton. It sounds like he DID pay royalties … just to the wrong party. And certainly Clapton would be one of the least apropos examples you could find of rockers failing to acknowledge blues pioneers.

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