The extremely shy and usually elusive Irish born singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan made a rare public speaking appearance over the weekend and addressed his landmark court case against Biz Markie that forever changed the direction of hip-hop music. Fielding questions Sunday afternoon at the Branchage Film Festival in Jersey, UK, following a screening of the Aidan McCarthy directed bio-doc Out On His Own: Gilbert O'Sullivan, the artist, who scored a series of hits in the UK (and to a slightly lesser degree in the US) in the early 70's including "Nothing Rhymed," "Alone Again (Naturally)," "Clair," and "Get Down," gave his side of the story of the notorious 1991 court case that he won but also gained the ire of countless hip-hop artists and fans alike.
Gilbert O'Sullivan "Alone Again (Naturally)"
The landmark case, settled in a New York court, was the first sampling lawsuit to go to court and became historic because it forever altered the course of recording hip-hop music. Up until then hip-hop artists were accustomed to freely borrowing snippets of previous recordings, and pretty much sampled whatever they wanted to. If challenged they tended to settle out of court, or in many instances the rap artist would ask permission (sometimes offering money) right before using a particular sample. This was actually the case with Biz Markie and Gilbert O'Sullivan, but things did not go as hoped for by the Biz and his O'Sullivan sampled song, "Alone Again (Naturally)."