After 22 years Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have given Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft Bitter Sweet Symphony royalties back and removed their writing credits after receiving all profits from the popular Verve song.
It’s a great outcome for Ashcroft as he announced the news as he received his lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, “as of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for Bitter Sweet Symphony, which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do.”
However, it wasn’t necessarily the Stones’ legends fault for the whole situation as their late manager Allen Klein ignited the trigger. According to Rolling Stone magazine, in 1997 the Verve requested permission to sample Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra’s symphonic version of the Rolling Stones song The Last Time, recorded in 1965. It was a done deal as they were licensed to a five-note segment of the recording for 50 percent of the royalties, but Klein through his holding company ABKCO Records, filed a plagiarism case against the Verve claiming they used a larger portion of the song. The Greater Manchester band were forced to relinquish all their royalties and publishing rights to ABKCO, and song credits to Jagger and Richards.
It would be extremely difficult to have a dispute with a legendary band especially over a song you wrote. “I never had a personal beef with the Stones,” Ashcroft told the BBC. “They’ve always have been the greatest rock and roll band in the world” which clearly shows as he supported the Stones in Edinburgh on their No Filter tour.
It’s a shame that it’s taken all these years to resolve the issue. A lot of fans will have mixed emotions about the situation but Ashcroft’s fight for Bitter Sweet Symphony is finally over and he can listen to his song with pure easiness.
Written by Alicia Ogley