Rolling Stones hand over 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' royalties to Richard Ashcroft
British musician Richard Ashcroft at the Hop Farm music festival in Paddock Wood, Kent, United Kingdom, on July 1, 2012. (Ben Stanstall / AFP)
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 8:04PM EDT
The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has announced that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones have granted him all future royalties from the 1997 hit "Bitter Sweet Symphony," which samples a version of a Stones song.
"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," he said in a statement.
The announcement puts an end to one of the most famous copyright disputes in British pop history. Shortly after the song's release, longtime Stones manager Allen Klein famously sued Ashcroft over the songwriting royalties from "Bitter Sweet Symphony."
The song samples an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones' 1965 "The Last Time," whose copyright was owned by Klein's company ABKCO Records. The portion sampled, written by arranger David Whitaker, is not part of the Stones' original song though.
The Stones agreed to license a five-note segment, but Klein later claimed that the Verve voided the agreement as they used a larger portion of "The Last Time."
As a result, Ashcroft had to sign over his songwriting royalties to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards -- who were both mentioned in the song's credit.
Following the decision, the Verve frontman stated that "Bitter Sweet Symphony" "is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years."
Speaking as he received a lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft thanked everyone involved in the deal: "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."