A web-based white nationalist organization called Stormfront has been blocked from using Johnny Cash’s music. This comes after the organization used Cash’s version of the Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne song “I Won’t Back Down” as its radio station’s theme song.
NPR reports that Stormfront received an official cease-and-desist letter from labels associated with Cash. These organizations are Universal Media Group (UMG) and American Recordings. UMG handles the pressing and distribution of Cash’s music. American Recordings has ownership over the specific recording of “I Won’t Back Down” used by Stormfront.
Rense Radio Network was the first of two recipients of the cease and desist. The network deals with publishing Stormfront’s web content. Also addressed was Stormfront founder and former Ku Klux Klan leader Don Black.
UMG/American Recordings’ letter establishes a claim that Stormfront Radio is abusing Johnny Cash’s music. Stormfront included Cash’s tune in “hundreds of archived and downloadable copies” of its broadcast. Cash’s work is not licensed to Rense Radio or Mr. Black.
This comes around a month after a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi wore a Johnny Cash shirt at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally. As a result, Cash’s family condemned his wearing the shirt in an open letter on Facebook.
“To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you,” said Cash’s children Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, Tara and John Carter. “We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.”
Earlier this week, Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter, spoke with Rolling Stone about the issue.
“Please, let his actions speak for who he was: A simple, loving man who never supported hate or bigotry,” said Carter. “He was non-political, and a patriot with no public political party affiliation.”
Stormfront has also received backlash from web hosts. Both GoDaddy and Google refuse to host their website.
Johnny Cash was more than just a country music icon. He was a philanthropist who fought for the rights of Native Americans, prisoners and other underprivileged groups. His ideals could not be any more different than Stormfront’s.