One of the great copyright controversies of the ’90s has reached a conclusion more than two decades later.
The Rolling Stones have reportedly given songwriting credits and royalties back to Richard Ashcroft for The Verve’s massive 1997 hit, “Bittersweet Symphony.”
The song, featured on The Verve’s Urban Hymns album and regarded as one of the defining tracks of the Britpop era, infamously used a four-second sample found on Andrew Loog Oldham’s orchestral recording of the Stones’ ’60s single “The Last Time”.
Permission to use the sample on “Bittersweet Symphony” to complete the Urban Hymns album was denied, and Ashcroft was forced to relinquish songwriting credits after a lawsuit from former Stones manager Allen Klein. Credits, and the royalties from the song, were handed over to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, even though they had nothing to do with the string sample Ashcroft used. Jagger and Richards even appeared on The Verve’s GRAMMY nomination as the track’s songwriters.
Earlier today (May 23), Ashcroft released a statement after accepting a lifetime achievement award at the Ivor Novello Awards, which honors British and Irish songwriters, stating that Jagger and Richards gave him back the credits that were taken from him in the ’90s, as well as money earned from sales and the song’s excessive commercial use.
“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 ‘Bittersweet Symphony’”, Ashcroft says. “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.”
Ashcroft adds: “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.”
The entire situation involving the Stones and Ashcroft back in the ’90s was quite convoluted, but this Middle8 video breaks it all down.