One of the spiteful copyright disputes in British pop history, between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, has ended. Richard Ashcroft will be receiving all future royalties from his 1997 song “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, performed by the Verve.
Talk about a Rolling Stone!
“Bitter Sweet Symphony” is known as one of the ultimate British singles of the 1990s, using a distinctive string motif. The four seconds of strings were from a sample orchestral
recording of the song “The Last Time”, but the rights were not fully cleared before releasing the song.
The Verve group broke up in 1999, but later reformed in 2007 and released the album “Forth.” Since, Richard has five solo albums, with the most recent album, “ Natural Rebel” released in 2018.
ABKCO, owned by Allen Klein Rolling Stones manager, disputed that the Verve had used a larger portion of the sample than was agreed. Following a lawsuit that was settled
out of court, forced Richard to surrender the song’s royalties and produce a new songwriting with credits: Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft. Following the decision, Richard
quipped: “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years.” But following a proposition to Mick and Keith from Richard’s management company, the two immediately agreed to hand over the royalties.
Robert revealed this great news the same day he won an Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music.
“Bitter Sweet Symphony reached No 2 in the UK and No 12 in the US, where it was also nominated for a Grammy for best rock song. It was the lead track from the album Urban
Hymns, which reached No 1 in the UK and went 10-times platinum, eventually selling more than 10m copies worldwide. It remains the 19th highest-selling album of all time in
the UK, ahead of the likes of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, and Ed Sheeran’s x.”
Richard then gave thanks to 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.”