Rolling Stones return the songwriting royalties to Richard Ashcroft for "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

The year was 1997 and The Verve release what would go on to be their signature single, “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” The engine that drives the song is a sample of an orchestral cover “The Last Time” by the Rolling Stones. The cover was arranged by David Whitaker and the band negotiated for the rights to use the sample. They failed however to get the publishing rights from the Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones previous manager, Allen Klein owned the publishing rights of all the Stones pre-1970 songs with his company ABKCO Records and sued The Verve. The band settled out of court with ABKCO Records receiving the publishing the song-writing credit changed to Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft.

In an interview with, bass player Simon Jones said,”we were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing. They rung up and said we want 100 per cent or take it out of the shops, you don’t have much choice.’

Lead singer Richard Ashcroft added, “obviously at first my reaction . . . I wanted to smash a few doors down. But then you think at the end of the day that song, whoever owns it, we know it’s us . . . We’ve got to go beyond that and realize that song has opened up many doors around the world for us, where people don’t know our story about breaking up, they just connected with it.”

Now, after a direct plea from Ashcroft, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have agreed to return the songwriting credits to Ashcroft.

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.

Music is power.

© 2019 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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