African musician helped create Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ but has never been paid

Liberian disco pioneer Eddie Johns says he has not earned anything from a song that was sampled by Daft Punk. 

Liberian singer Eddie Johns is responsible for a good portion of the groovy, upbeat hooks we know from the electric duo Daft Punk’s hit “One More Time.”

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The instantly-recognizable song by the now-retired electric disco duo consisting of French producers and singers Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, was released in 2000.

The song garnered numerous accolades including being ranked #5 on Pitchfork’s top 500 songs of the 2000s and peaking at number one on the French singles charts.

59th GRAMMY Awards -  Show
Music group Daft Punk performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

In February, following their retirement announcement, Rolling Stone also reported that Daft Punk’s music sales increased by 2,650 %.

However, 70-year-old Johns, who wrote the 1978 single More Spell On You” which provides the horn sections for Daft Punk’s “One More Time” said he hadn’t earned anything from the song, per an interview with the Los Angeles Times. 

“I just hope I can get some credit, you know? I’d like to have something to give to my daughter,” said Johns. 

Johns spent most of the late 70s and early 80s tending to his music career in France but did not find mainstream success. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 2000s, and struggled to find employment after enduring a stroke which led to being unhoused, according to the LA Times.

In 2019, he found shelter through a program with People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) a nonprofit organization, and lives in a one-room apartment sponsored by the organization today. 

A YouTube video demonstrates how the horns of a repeatedly chopped and modified “More Spell On You” turns into the hook for Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” Daft Punk’s Discovery, the album that includes the track, was certified triple-platinum in France and gold in the U.S, with over 500,000 copies sold. 

A representative for Daft Punk confirmed to the Times that the group has paid royalties to GM Musipro, the French label that has the rights to “More Spell On You” but no one has paid anything to Johns. 

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GM Musipro founder Georges Mary said that they are reviewing Johns’ file.

“We have not heard from [Johns] since the day we acquired in 1995 a catalog from another label that featured this title,” Mary told the Times. “We have tried to do research on him, but without any result. For our part, we are going to study his file and do the accounts to his credit. We will get back to him immediately on this subject, at the same time as we will inform him of his rights.”

For Johns, the compensation related to those rights are long overdue. 

“I did always wonder if the song was a success or not. I went on with my life in another direction. But I wish I had gotten paid,” Johns said. “I would have been in a better state of mind. My mother would have been very happy. I always just wanted to impress her.”

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