It appears the long legal saga over the sample which The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was built around has come to a conclusion. In a short note that lead singer and principal songwriter Richard Ashcroft released, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have agreed to exclude their names from the writing credits for the ’90s hit single. Further, they’ve agreed to pass all future royalties to Ashcroft.
The heart of the issue was a short sample of an Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording of “The Last Time,” a song by The Rolling Stones (Oldham was their original manager and producer). While The Verve were cleared to use a six-note sample, the current manager of The Rolling Stones, Allen Klein, claimed the sample was larger than what had been authorized. This disagreement led to a lawsuit between The Verve and Klein’s holding company, ABKCO Records. The matter was settled out of court, with Ashcroft
This is a massive turn of events for Ashcroft, who previously had to agree to give all royalties to Jagger and Richards in the settlement. They were also added to the songwriting credits with Ashcroft. Now, he is the sole songwriter for “Bittersweet Symphony.” The song was released in 1997 and became a massive hit for the band, who were well-known in Britain but relatively unknown in the United States. It won them song of the year from, of all publications, Rolling Stone and being nominated for a Grammy.
A press release pointed out that Ashcroft supported The Rolling Stones at their shows in Edinburgh and Manchester, the only artist two open for them at two shows. Today, Ashcroft also received the Ivor Novello Award today for Outstanding Contribution To British Music.
Read the full statement below:
“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. 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 Jody Klein (for actually taking the call) lastly a huge unreserved heartfelt thanks and respect to Mick and Keith.”