Monday, May 27, 2024

Alicia Keys: “Hey There Lonely Girl” Writer Is Very Much Alive And Wants His Money


Earl Shuman called me yesterday. Who is Earl Shuman? He wrote the lyrics to “Hey There Lonely Girl,” the classic hit from 1970 sung by Eddie Holman and still heard daily on oldies stations all over the world. Earl is 89 years old and very much alive and with it. He lives right here in Manhattan. And he’s unamused that Alicia Keys is singing two lines from the chorus of his song in the middle of “Girl on Fire,” her new hit. Don’t get him wrong: he likes “Girl on Fire.” He just wants to be paid for use of his song, along with the estate of his late collaborator Leon Carr.

Shuman is still writing music and very active. He’s working on a song right now with Michael Feinstein, in fact. But he’s best known for “Hey There Lonely Girl” plus, he said, many movie themes, and hit songs by the legendary Patti Page from the 1950s. He has 317 credits on the ASCAP data base. He liked the word ‘lonely.’ In 1953, one of his first big big hits was “Seven Lonely Days” by Georgia Gibbs, the Taylor Swift of her day.

Shuman and Carr also wrote the 1964 off Broadway musical of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a little gem that should be revived.

Earl told me that this has happened before with “Hey There Lonely Girl.” Both Anita Baker and the Beastie Boys helped themselves to a portion of the song. In the end, they paid. “We worked it out, got credit,” he said. Why Alicia Keys, who helps herself to samples from the buffet of the musical canon often, didn’t just clear the rights to “Hey There Lonely Girl” instead of, uh, appropriating it, is anyone’s guess. But rest assured, Earl Shuman has a good lawyer, and he’s on the case.

Earlier story:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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