One day after the estate of Isaac Hayes threatened legal action against twice-impeached one-term president Donald Trump for unauthorized use of a song, one of the former reality TV star’s most vocal supporters got a similar do not play request.
“The Tom Petty estate and our partners were shocked to find out that Tom’s song ‘I Won’t Back Down’ was stolen and used without permission or a license to promote Kari Lake’s failed campaign,” the estate of the late rock icon tweeted on Thursday night (Nov. 17) after Lake released a campaign video cued to the beloved 1989 single.
Lake, one of a raft of prominent Trump-endorsed election deniers who failed in their bids in the midterm elections, dropped the ad on Wednesday. The two-minute spot features a montage of Lake posing with Trump, wielding a rifle while hunting, smashing TVs playing CNN and speaking to Arizonans with no voice-over or sound beyond Petty’s track.
“This is illegal,” Petty’s camp continued. “We are exploring all of our legal options to stop this unauthorized use and to prohibit future misappropriations of Tom’s beloved anthem. Thank you to all of the fans who brought this to our attention and who help us protect his legacy every day.”
On Friday evening (Nov. 18), Wixen Music Publishing, which administers song compositions by Petty, sent a cease and desist letter to Lake over her use of “I Won’t Back Down” in the ad.
“Tom sang ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit for concert for the victims of 9/11 attack. Not backing down to hatred violence and an attack on our democracy,” said the letter, signed by Wixen president Randall Wixen. “The opposite of what you stand for. Using this song to promote your warped values is not only illegal as outlined above, but an insult to Tom’s memory, his lyrics and music, and the tens of millions of fans who cherish his legacy.”
Petty’s ex-wife, Jane Benyo Petty, also issued a statement condemning Lake’s unauthorized use of the track.
“Tom Petty would not ever let Kari Lake, an election denier, use his great anthem ‘I Won’t’ Back Down’ to not concede a legitimate election,” she said. “Her alliance with Trump makes it even worse. She is getting a cease and desist letter. I would like to thank all the fans on Twitter for telling me about the video.”
Former local Fox news anchor Lake lost her bid for the Arizona governorship to democrat Katie Hobbs, but in keeping with her election denialism stance has so far refused to concede the race while offering up baseless, unproven allegations of voter fraud. Petty’s estate had a similar reaction when then-president Trump used “Won’t Back Down” at a June 2020 campaign rally.
Over the five years of his campaigns and presidency, artists ranging from Adele to Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, R.E.M., Aerosmith, Panic! at the Disco, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Rihanna and the estates of Leonard Cohen, Petty and Prince vociferously objected to Trump playing their music at his rallies. At press time a spokesperson for Lake could not be reached for comment on the Petty estate’s tweet.
Hayes’ estate said it was exploring all legal options after Trump played Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Coming” — co-written by Hayes — at his Tuesday campaign event, in which the legally embattled real estate developer announced his third bid for the White House.
See the Petty estate’s statement below.