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Russian Rocker Accuses Radiohead Of 'Ripping Off' His Video: 'I Think We Were First'

  • Tom Balmforth

Russian rock musician Andrei Makarevich (file photo)

MOSCOW -- Veteran Russian rock musician Andrei Makarevich has accused British rock band Radiohead of "ripping off" its new music video from a 16-year-old clip by his band Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine).

But Makarevich, a poet and singer-songwriter famous in Russia since the Soviet period, then told RFE/RL that while there were "more than obvious" similarities, he was not taking legal action and was unsure whether the perceived parallels constituted intellectual property theft.

Writing on Facebook on September 13, the 63-year-old People's Artist of Russia honoree said: “The group Radiohead has very crudely ripped off their video 'Lift' from our video 'The Place Where There Is Light’ -- which we filmed with 'Machine' on September 11, 2001.”

He included a link to his video -- Mesto Gde Svet, in Russian -- for comparison.

“Similar?” he wrote simply, linking to the official video of Radiohead's Lift, which dropped on YouTube on September 12:



The next day, contacted by telephone and seemingly softening his tone about Lift, Makarevich told RFE/RL, "I simply saw the similarity."

"The similarity is more than obvious," he added. "Some of the shots plainly coincide. As we filmed this video 20 years earlier, I think we were first. That's it."

Makarevich's Time Machine is one of Russia's oldest active rock bands.

Both clips show the bands' front men -- Thom Yorke, in Radiohead’s case -- as they take long elevator rides, with people coming and going as the lift visits different floors. There are similarities in some of the camera angles, but the story lines and secondary characters differ considerably.

Radiohead first performed Lift in 1996, but it was only released this summer as part of a 20th-anniversary reissue of the group's OK Computer album. The lyrics describe someone being “stuck in a lift.”

A fan of The Beatles, Makarevich founded Mashina Vremeni in the Soviet Union in 1969 and has been its front man ever since.

In 2008, he performed on Red Square at a concert in support of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.

More recently, however, he has been marginalized in Russia for his outspoken criticism of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which two years ago saw him branded a “traitor” by members of parliament. A string of his concerts and public appearances was subsequently canceled.

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    Tom Balmforth

    Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics. He can be reached at balmfortht@rferl.org

     

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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