Vanilla Ice has long been under pressure to come clean about the controversy over his sampling of the 1981 Queen and David Bowie single, “Under Pressure.” The telltale bass line from the classic Bowie-Queen collaboration is featured prominently in the rapper’s 1990 hit “Ice Ice Baby,” and it has been the subject of controversy for years. Now, Vanilla Ice says it’s no big thing because he claims he purchased the original song from David Bowie and Queen more than 25 years ago.
In a new interview on the Dan Patrick Show radio show, Vanilla said he went directly to Queen founder Brian May and bought the song instead of hashing things out in court.
“I actually own the song,” Vanilla Ice said to the radio host.
“Like Michael Jackson owns the Beatles. It was cheaper than a lawsuit.”
Vanilla Ice’s only No. 1 hit blatantly features the very familiar bass line from the Queen-Bowie classic. At the time, Vanilla brushed off the similar melodies, saying the two songs were different because he added a beat between notes in the bass line. You can see Vanilla Ice’s very weak defense of his “Under Pressure” sample below, in which he insists “it’s not the same.”
According to Rolling Stone, Vanilla Ice later said that rationale was a joke, but Queen and Bowie handlers threatened a copyright infringement suit after the rapper failed to credit “Under Pressure” songwriters Bowie, May, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
The case was settled out of court, and Vanilla forked over an undisclosed sum of money to the “Under Pressure” songwriters. In addition, Bowie and members of Queen all received songwriting credits on the chart-topping rap-pop crossover track. Vanilla later explained his rationale for using the sample, saying he didn’t blame the other musicians for going after him.
While this is where Vanilla’s claim that he actually bought the song plays in, a rep for Queen told Ultimate Classic Rock that Vanilla Ice’s statement about the settlement is not accurate.
“An arrangement was made whereby the publishing in the song was shared,” the Queen spokesperson confirmed to UCR.
Brian May hasn’t spoken out directly about Vanilla’s latest claims, but in a 1993 interview with Howard Stern, May said he had “no hard feelings” towards the rapper because they “settled up.” May even admitted the controversy benefited Queen because it got their song in front of a new generation of listeners.
“In the end, it was very good for us because a lot of people went ‘ah, so that’s where that comes from,'” the Queen legend said of the “Under Pressure” sample. “So a lot of people who never would have heard of Queen heard of Queen because of that.”
You can hear the differences (or similarities) between the two songs below.
[Featured Image by Mark Davis/Getty Images for TV Guide]