It might be one of their biggest hits, but the main hook in Daft Punk’s One More Time is powered by a brass sample from a little-known disco record.
However, it turns out that Eddie Johns, the artist who wrote the song that was sampled, has never received any royalties from the French electronic music duo.
The sampled track, More Spell On You, was taken from a 1979 album of the same name. Once you’ve heard it, its importance to One More Time’s success becomes clear - the song’s lead hook is made up pretty much entirely from chopped up and rearranged slices of the brass riff in Eddie Johns’ track.
Daft Punk have never made a secret of this, and recreations that that show how One More Time was created are all over YouTube, but while band members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are credited as songwriters - as is the late Anthony Wayne Moore (AKA Romanthony), who provided vocals for the track - Eddie Johns’ name is missing.
The LA Times recently caught up with Johns, who had a stroke 10 years ago and has fallen on hard times. Although housed now, at times he was forced to sleep on the streets and in shelters.
It turns out that, while Daft Punk have been paying royalties for the use of the sample, these have been going to a French label and publishing company called GM Musipro - known for reissuing vintage French rock and pop - and no payments have found their way into Johns’ pocket.
Speaking to the LA Times, Georges Mary, the company’s founder, said: “We have not heard from [Johns] since the day we acquired in 1995 a catalog from another label that featured this title [More Spell On You].
“We have tried to do research on him, but without any result. For our part, we are going to study his file and do the accounts to his credit. We will get back to him immediately on this subject, at the same time as we will inform him of his rights.
“We ask you in the meantime to convey our sympathy to him,” said Mary.
It remains to be seen if Johns will now receive payment, but Erin Jacobson, a Beverly Hills attorney who specialises in music industry intellectual property, believes that he could be owed a significant amount.
“Generally, a song with that amount of streams would be earning in the high six- to seven-figure range on streams alone,” she told the LA Times.
Discussing how he found out about his unwitting influence on One More Time after its 2000 release, Johns said: “My daughter told me about Daft Punk, but I didn’t pay attention to what she said at the time because I was no longer in music.
"But one time, I was at the library in Pasadena, I was listening to a song from my album, and I found a video of engineers talking about how Daft Punk transformed More Spell on You, how they were changing the sound.”
Asked by the LA Times what he thought of One More Time, Johns replied with a smile: “I liked More Spell on You more.”