Rolling Stones Give Royalties to the Verve’s Richard Ashcroft

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After more than two decades, Rolling Stones frontmen Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have finally relinquished their rights over The Verve’s legacy, their singular hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” which has been part of a legendary copyright dispute since the song’s release in 1997.

“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,” says Verve songwriter Richard Ashcroft in a statement released on the same day the artist took home an Ivor Novello award for his outstanding contribution to British music.

But in a statement released today after Ashcroft received the PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music award at the Ivor Novello Awards earlier today (May 23), Ashcroft announced that he has regained his royalties from the song.

“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’,” the statement reads. “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 [Abkco CEO] Jody Klein (for actually taking the call) lastly a huge unreserved heartfelt thanks and respect to Mick and Keith. Music is power.”

The signature hook in “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is a four second orchestral sample lifted from Rolling Stones song “The Last Time.” ABKCO Records, owned by Stones’ manager Allen Klein, had claimed that the rights had never fully cleared upon the track’s release, arguing that the portion used in the song was longer than they’d agreed. A lawsuit was settled out-of-court, and Ashcroft was forced to share writing credit — placing his own name last in line.

 

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