Published May 23, 2019The Verve's 1997 single "Bitter Sweet Symphony" is fondly remembered for both its sweet string melody and its landmark copyright case, in which the Rolling Stones' management sued frontman Richard Ashcroft and won 100 percent of the songwriting royalties and publishing rights. Twenty years later, those credits will change.
A press release from Ashcroft reveals that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have agreed to give their songwriting credits and publishing rights for "Bitter Sweet Symphony" back to the Verve frontman.
In a statement, Ashcroft called Jagger and Richards' decision a "remarkable and life affirming turn of events," adding that the pair of Stones "are happy for the writing credit to exclude their names and all their royalties derived from the song they will now pass to me."
The 1997 lawsuit concerning "Bitter Sweet Symphony" took issue with the song's instrumental, which partially samples a five-note sequence from a symphonic cover of the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time," recorded in 1965 by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra.
The Verve initially agreed to license said five-note segment in exchange for 50 percent of the royalties, but former Stones manager Allen Klein claimed the band used a larger sample section than initially decided, effectively voiding their agreement.
Klein's company ABKCO Records then filed a plagiarism suit on behalf of Jagger and Richards, and sought all songwriting royalties and publishing rights. It was followed by a second suit from former Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham (who owned the sampled recording) seeking $1.7 million in mechanical royalties.
You can read Ashcroft's complete statement below:
It gives me great pleasure to announce as of last month Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agreed to give me their share of the song Bitter Sweet Symphony. This remarkable and life affirming turn of events was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith, who have also agreed that they are happy for the writing credit to exclude their names and all their royalties derived from the song they will now pass to me.
I would like to thank the main players in this, my management Steve Kutner and John Kennedy, the Stones manager Joyce Smyth and Jody Klein (for actually taking the call) lastly a huge unreserved heartfelt thanks and respect to Mick and Keith.
Music is power.
Jagger, Richards and their Rolling Stones bandmates will play outdoors in Ontario next month.