When Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke released the hit song “Blurred Lines” in 2013, nobody thought it would send the duo to court. Neither did they foresee that they would lose millions of dollars’ in damages or almost half of the profit the song had earned from a lawsuit filed by the family of the late Marvin Gaye.
Thicke and Williams were accused of infringing on Gaye’s classic hit “Got to Give It Up” to produce “Blurred Lines” and were eventually declared guilty by a jury early this year. According to sources, the musicians copied some musical elements of Gaye’s track and incorporated it into their song.
— People Magazine (@people) March 11, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter has obtained video footage of the depositions of both Thicke and Williams in 2014.
In the video, Williams looked unhappy with the questions being thrown at him and told Gaye’s attorney, Richard Busch, “I’m not here to teach you music” when asked to explain some music terminologies. He also refused to answer some questions and replied with “I can’t answer you at this time.” He also stated that he wasn’t “comfortable” several times when he was repeatedly challenged to share his knowledge of music.
When was asked to name the chords used in bluegrass songs, Williams replied in a passive-aggressive way, “You should check it out.”
Busch tried to make Williams explain pentatonic harmonies, but the music producer managed to dodge the question once again and told the lawyer to ask the musicologist beside him instead.
Gaye’s attorney further interrogated Williams, asking if he was aware that the baseline in “Blurred Lines” sounds similar to the baseline in Gaye’s classic “Got to Give it Up.” Williams explained that while people think the baselines sound the same, “Blurred Lines” was not ripped off of Gaye’s music. When asked if Gaye’s song ever crossed his mind during the production, Williams answered “No.”
Williams admitted that he wrote most of the lyrics and owned the creation of the words “blurred lines,” “good girl,” and “hey, hey, hey.”
“I did not go in the studio with the intention of making anything feel like, or to sound like, Marvin Gaye,” the musician said as he answered the questions of the lead attorney.
Gaye’s lawyer asked Williams if he tried to pretend he was Marvin Gaye when he created “Blurred Lines,” to which Williams also said no.
“At that particular time, no. But as I look back, I feel that feeling,” the producer admitted.
On the other hand, Thicke, who was deposed in April 2014, confessed he was drunk and high on Vicodin, a painkiller, while promoting “Blurred Lines” on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
“With all due respect, I was high and drunk every time I did an interview last year,” Thicke said during his deposition.
The lawsuit was filed by Gaye’s children Frankie, Nona, and Marvin Gaye III. They inherited the copyright to Gaye’s music after his death.
Thicke and Williams will soon be ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $5 million dollars’ worth of damages, after which the case will proceed onto the next stage – focusing on the weight of the evidence, statements from musicologists, and jury instructions.
Thicke admitted that during the 2014 deposition, he was dealing with other personal issues that prevented him from focusing on the trial.
At the time, the singer broke up with actress Paula Patton and was dealing with divorce-related matters.
“I didn’t give my all to the trial,” Thicke revealed to the New York Times. “It simply wasn’t as important to me as what was going on in my personal life. I was lost at the time. I had lost my way.”
[Photo by Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images]