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Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck have been accused of taking a prisoner's song lyrics

People say that actor Johnny Depp and British guitar legend Jeff Beck stole a poem from a prisoner from the 1980s and used it in their new song together.

Depp, 59, and the 78-year-old former Yardbirds guitarist released an album called "18" last month, just a few weeks after the actor won his shocking defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Rolling Stone says that on one of the record's tracks, Depp says lines that were said by a convicted murderer and thief named Slim Wilson in 1964.

Slim Wilson, whose real name was Willie Davis, was a pimp who hopped from train to train and cheated at gambling. He also recited a series of dirty poems.

Folklorist Bruce Jackson recorded the poems, which are called "toasts," while Wilson was in Missouri State Penitentiary, the outlet said.

Bruce Jackson recorded Wilson reading a toast called "Hobo Ben," and in his 1974 book "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me," he put a transcription of the piece.

Lines from "Hobo Ben" were used almost word-for-word in "Sad Mother—–n' Parade," a new experimental spoken-word song by Depp and Beck for which they are the only credited songwriters.

Depp’s use of the lyrics might not result in legal trouble for the actor because the poems were part of an oral tradition and did not have a definitive author.
Kelley McCall/AP

“The only two lines I could find in the whole piece that [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Big time motherf—-r’ and ‘Bust it down to my level,’” Jackson told Rolling Stone.

“Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book. I’ve never encountered anything like this. I’ve been publishing stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time anybody has just ripped something off and put his own name on it.”

Jackson’s son, Michael Lee Jackson is a lawyer who specializes in music and intellectual property, according to the outlet.

“They do not reflect the actual authorship of those lyrics,” Michael reportedly said. “It’s just not plausible, in my opinion, that Johnny Depp or anybody else could have sat down and crafted those lyrics without almost wholly taking them from some version of my father’s recording and/or book where they appeared.”

Michael is reportedly exploring legal action against the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor and the “Going Down” guitar slinger.

Legal action would be murky because “Hobo Ben” was part of an oral tradition and didn’t have a definitive author, according to the article.

Bruce Jackson
The poems were recorded by Bruce Jackson (pictured) while Wilson served time in Missouri State Penitentiary.
Louis MONIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Jackson, who is a SUNY Distinguished Professor and the James Agee Professor of American Culture at the University at Buffalo, reportedly said the stolen lyrics are more of an ethical issue than a legal one.

“I don’t know if this record is selling. I’ve seen some reviews that I’d be very embarrassed to have gotten had they been my album. But if it is selling, Johnny Depp is making a lot of money on it. Should it go to him, or should it go to some place that helps the people who produced this culture?”

Beck and Depp did not respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.

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