A woman who claimed she penned one of the world’s most famous ballads on a napkin says she has missed out on royalties for 40 years – leaving her millions out of pocket.
Singer-songwriter Lori Lieberman, 60, says she came up with the idea for love song ‘Killing me Softly’ at the age of 19 after going to a Don McLean gig.
The teenager we so overcome by the 70’s American singer-songwriter’s performance she penned a poem about how she felt McLean was reading from her diary on a napkin.
Lori says she naively then showed her poem to older boyfriend lyricist Norman Gimbel who used it as the inspiration for the lyrics and tune written by Charles Fox.
But despite also being the first artist to record and release the love song Lori’s name never appeared in the credits and she has missed out on royalties over 40 years.
Lori yesterday (Weds) said she is not worried about the missed millions, but would like “recognition” for the part she played in making the hit – originally called ‘Killing Me Softly With His Blues.’
The mother-of-three said: “I was so moved by Don McLean’s performance at the Troubadour in LA that I wrote this poem on a napkin.
“When he was singing ‘Empty Chairs’ it killed me. I really felt like he was singing about me and my life.
“I felt like he was reading my diary. He was a total stranger to me, but his songs were the absolute essence of how I was feeling.
“It was the inspiration for the song. Norman asked me where I was sitting, how I was feeling. They even altered the melody so I could sing it.
“The title was originally ‘Killing Me Softly With His Blues’ which they had got from a book and we changed that to ‘…With His Song.’
“They never offered to credit me and I never thought I should ask for it. I was naive. It was my first record and I was in a personal relationship with Norman.
“Now Norman says that is not how the song was composed. But I met Don McLean last year and he validated my story.
“It is not about the money for me. I just want recognition.
“It is amazing to have been part of such a historic moment in music. It is crazy to think that the song would never have been written if my friend had not invited me to that gig.”
Amazingly Lori, who only took a break from the music business to bring up her three children, is still touring at the age of 60.
Lori, who has just finished her fourteenth studio album, added: “It is so weird I am 60. I remember every single moment of every year.
“My music has matured over the years. I feel like this album is my best – I have lots of things to say and experience to draw from.
“One of my songs ‘Cup of Girl’ is about a young naive singer – a bit like I was when Killing Me Softly was written – who has the voice to sing, but not a voice to speak.”
‘Killing Me Softly’ was voted one of the greatest all time songs by Rolling Stone Magazine and has been covered by Roberta Flack, The Fugeees and Frank Sinatra.
Lori has released thirteenth albums from Capitol to V2 Records and she has toured worldwide with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman and The Jayhawks.
The singer-songwriter’s fourteenth studio album ‘Bricks Against the Glass’ is released on March 4.
Lori is returning to the UK for two concerts at Green Note in London on February 28 and Anvil Arts/The Forge in Basingstoke on March 1.
Don McLean is best-known for his album American Pie, containing the songs ‘American Pie’ – which was covered by Madonna – and ‘Vincent’.
Both Gimbel and Fox initially claimed that Lieberman had had no involvement in the creation of the song.
But Don McLean validated what Lieberman had said and articles later unearthed from the early 1970s all vindicated her claims.