They may not have needed “no education,” but they still deserve to be paid.
That’s the feeling of a Scotland-based royalties agent who filed a legal claim on behalf of the schoolchildren who took part in singing the chorus of Pink Floyd’s chart-topping 1979 single, “Another Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2.”
Peter Rowan, of Edinburgh’s RBL Music, is looking to secure as much as ₤6,000 ($11,650) for the 23 students of Islington Green School, more than 25 years after they recorded their vocals, according to the European wire service Agence France-Presse. Rowan filed his first claim last week, on behalf of former student Peter Thorpe, though he said he hopes to add other students to the claim.
The back royalties, calculated at a rate similar to that of session musicians, wouldn’t be paid by the band or its label, EMI, but by the Performing Artists’ Media Rights Association, an organization that collects money from broadcasters each time a song is played on the air, similar to the U.S.’s ASCAP or BMI. A spokesperson for the group had no comment.
The song’s famous anti-authority chorus — “We don’t need no education/ We don’t need no thought control” — was actually recorded without the permission of the headmistress of the school. After being approached by Pink Floyd’s management, music teacher Alun Renshaw led his pupils, aged 13 to 16, to Britannia Row, a nearby recording studio, where the band was recording the song for its album, The Wall.
When the headmistress finally heard the recording, which also includes the lines, “No dark sarcasm in the classroom/ Hey! Teachers, leave them kids alone,” she forbade the students from appearing on television or radio, making Rowan’s job of identifying the students more difficult.
Rowan found Thorpe through the British Web site Friends Reunited. Some others he contacted weren’t interested in joining the claim.
While the students received no compensation for their vocals, the school, however, was paid ₤1,000 ($1,860) and given a platinum record.
The Wall has sold more than 23 million copies and is the third best-selling album of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Korn recently covered “Another Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2″ for their Greatest Hits Vol. 1. The tune was also updated in 1998 for the soundtrack to “The Faculty” by Class of 1999, a supergroup that featured Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.