Richard Ashcroft Gets the Rights Back to “Bittersweet Symphony” From The Rolling Stones | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Richard Ashcroft Gets the Rights Back to “Bittersweet Symphony” From The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards Have Finally Agreed to Give the Former Frontman of The Verve His Due

May 23, 2019 The Verve Bookmark and Share

One of the bigger music industry injustices of the 1990s has finally been rectified: Richard Ashcroft has been given back the songwriting credits and publishing rights to his most famous song “Bittersweet Symphony,” by his former band The Verve, returned to him by The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It is one of the most beloved songs of the era and even though Jagger and Richards had nothing to do with its creation they received songwriting credit and have been receiving publishing royalties for the last two decades. Now Ashcroft will finally get his due.

The song has a complicated legal history. The dispute arose from a four-second sample of an Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral recording of The Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time,” which was looped as the backing track for the song. The label got permission to use the sample, but failed to get the publishing rights from The Rolling Stones to the original song. By the time this was discovered, copies of The Verve’s album Urban Hymns had already been manufactured and the label figured they could cut a deal after the fact. Alas longtime Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, the owner of ABKCO, who owned the copyright to “The Last Time,” was only interested in Ashcroft signed away all of his rights to the song, including the lyrics. Thus Ashcroft has lost out financially for years, as the song has continued to get airplay and placement in movies and TV shows. On top of that, the song was credited to Jagger and Richards, even though they didn’t write the lyrics. Klein passed away in 2009 and now Jagger and Richards have done the right thing.

Ashcroft issued this press release statement: “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.”

Ashcroft released a new solo album, Natural Rebel, last year via Ashcroft’s own label, RPA, and BMG. Ashcroft was just awarded outstanding contribution to British music at the Ivor Novello Awards.

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