Pharrell Williams tells president to cease and desist after ‘Happy’ plays at Trump rally on day of synagogue shooting

Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams, through his attorney, sent President Trump a cease-and-desist letter after Williams’ hit song “Happy” was played at a Trump rally on Saturday following a mass shooting that day at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP)

An attorney for pop star Pharrell Williams on Monday sent a cease-and-desist letter to President Trump for playing Williams’ song “Happy” at a political rally on the same day as a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana,” attorney Howard E. King wrote. “There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”

Eleven people — ranging in age from 54 to 97 — were killed Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue, where three separate congregations were holding services.

The suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh is charged with 29 federal counts, including murder with a firearm and several hate crime charges.


Trump spoke that evening at a political rally at an airport hangar in Murphysboro, Ill.

“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe and frankly something that is unimaginable. Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief,” Trump said at the event, where he called the shooting anti-Semitic.

Trump joked at the event that he considered canceling because he was having “a bad hair day.”

In his cease-and-desist letter, King, who is Williams’ Los Angeles-based attorney, wrote that the singer is the owner of the copyright to “Happy.”


“Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music,” King wrote. “The use of ‘Happy’ without permission constitutes copyright infringement.”

Twitter: @haileybranson

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