We Asked Rocky Composer Bill Conti About Donald Trump Using His Music

And the conversation somehow wound around to Mozart and the Third Reich. Go figure.

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

“Gonna Fly Now,” otherwise known as the Rocky theme, is easily one of the most iconic pieces of film music ever written, right up there with the Godfather theme and Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” made popular by 2001: A Space Odyssey. So when Donald Trump co-opted the Rocky tune for his entrance music during a rally last week, we decided to get Rocky composer Bill Conti on the phone.

After all, there’s a long history in the United States of rock stars and songwriters crying foul over the use of their music at rallies and other political events.

Bobby McFerrin didn’t like George Bush the Elder using “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” and Bruce Springsteen objected when Ronald Reagan wanted “Born in the U.S.A.” for his re-election campaign.

More recently, it has been Trump who has felt the wrath of musicians, eliciting condemnation from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Adele, R.E.M., Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Neil Young, and, er, Twisted Sister.

But Conti (that’s him conducting in the photo) couldn’t be happier that Trump is walking out to “Gonna Fly Now,” which the candidate also used for his entrance music at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland:


“I think it’s great,” Conti tells us from his California home.

Now, some might assume this means that Conti is an ardent Trump supporter, a staunch critic of Hillary Clinton. But that’s not the case.

“I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy,” says Conti, 74. “The song is my creation. And anytime something I create is used, I am happy about that. Music has no politics attached to it. The Third Reich loved Mozart. Would Mozart have a problem with that?”

Um … OK.

At the end of the day, the composer explains, it’s all about the money, money, money. Conti confirms that he still gets a check for his royalties on “Gonna Fly Now.”

“Me, my children, my grandchildren all make money off of this,” he says. “So thank you.”

But, c’mon, Bill. Really. Who are you going to vote for on Election Day?

“If I were to vote for one of them, it would be the first time that I ever voted in my life,” he says. “I’m a bad citizen. But it’s OK. Whoever you vote in will be fine with me.”

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