October 13, 2021
THE legal team representing an executor of Toots Hibbert’s estate is making moves to pursue redress for the late singer’s rights to the song Bam Bam.
Debra Archer, attorney-at-law who represents co-executor Cressida Rattigan, said the legal team was instructed to “research the situation”.
“Since this has been brought to our attention that must change as that [Bam Bam] is a Toots original that the estate must protect. The executor I represent has instructed us to pursue this matter further. We are currently researching this situation,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Sister Nancy’s rendition of Bam Bam is one of 47 tracks on Netflix’s new 10-episode series, Maid, which premiered recently.
Rattigan, granddaughter of Toots Hibbert, said she recently learnt that Bam Bam was part of the Netflix series.
“I won’t comment right now… But I know that the Bam Bam royalty has been a decades-long debate,” she said.
Bam Bam, recorded by The Maytals in 1966, won the Jamaica Festival Song Competition that year. Hibbert was lead singer for the group.
In an August 2020 exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer, Hibbert shared that he wrote and arranged the song. At the time, he said he had instructed a team of intellectual property managers to investigate who had been collecting publishing and royalties, as he had never collected anything from the song.
“Not a cent… I am the writer, the arranger, the composer, the singer and the producer of the original song,” he told Jamaica Observer at the time.
According to Hibbert, he is listed as the principal songwriter in the US Copyright Office in Washington DC.
Toots Hibbert died on September 11, 2020 of COVID-19 complications. He was 77.
Sister Nancy’s 1982 version of Bam Bam has gained worldwide popularity. Produced by Winston Riley, it borrows heavily from the chorus of the 1966 festival song by Toots Hibbert. It used an instrumental which samples Ansell Collins’ 1974 song Stalag 17.
Riley, 68, died on January 2012.
Sister Nancy’s version made it to the soundtrack of the 1998 film Belly.
Lauryn Hill interpolated it in her song, Lost Ones, from the 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Reebok used the song in a 2014 commercial.
Kanye West featuring Rihanna sampled Bam Bam on the 2016 song Famous from The Life of Pablo.
Beyoncé used a sample of Bam Bam interpolated with her live performance of Hold Up from her 2016 album Lemonade.
Jay-Z sampled the song in Bam from the 2017 album 4:44. Jay-Z actually travelled to Jamaica to record the music video for Bam. While on his visit, he met Sister Nancy, who is featured in the video.
Under the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) rules, musicians must seek permission from the original copyright owners or their agents, such as their record company or music publishing company, before covering or sampling the work of others.