Gotye pays royalties to dead guitarist for ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

"Somebody That I Used to Know" comes from a song that not many people know, but Gotye gave credit where credit was due.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” comes from a song that not many people know, but Gotye gave credit where credit was due.

Gotye could have just pillaged a riff from Luiz Bonfa and not many people would have been the wiser. Bonfa, a Brazilian guitarist and composer, has been dead for 12 years.

Copyright cases often end up in court long after a song gets so popular (read: When the composer who had been living under a rock for decades finally hears the song that some young gun ripped off from him or her.)

But Gotye was proactive, and when he borrowed a rhythm and chord change that amounts to about four seconds of Bonfa’s 1967 song, “Seville,” he made an agreement with Bonfa’s estate to pay a percentage of the royalties.

In February, Gotye told Billboard that “That Luiz Bonfa sample directly prompted the first line of lyrics. … The back and forth left me thinking about these different breakups and different relationships over the years, and the lyrics flowed from there.”

It was revealed WEdnesday that the agreement has so far netted Bonfa’s estate more than $1 million. Check out the clips below.


While we’re on the topic, this writer recently heard the disco classic “More More More” on the radio and was reminded of how a tiny part in a song can be such a big part of another song. See below. Also, what the hell ever happened to Len?



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