Rolling Stones return ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ royalties, rights to Richard Ashcroft of The Verve

The widely-regarded Britpop era reached its pinnacle in the mid to late 1990s, with Bitter Sweet Symphony serving as one of its most defining songs outside of the works from music giants like Oasis and Blur.

Now, after 22 years of dispute and reaping no rewards from writing it, The Verve frontman, Richard Ashcroft, has had the rights and royalties to the 1997 U.K. anthem returned to him.

The 48-year-old singer shared a press release regarding the matter to Twitter on Thursday.

Although Bitter Sweet Symphony was, for the most part, written by Ashcroft, its famous string arrangement was sampled from a 1965 Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording.

The sample was actually a cover of The Rolling Stones hit single, The Last Time (1965), which was co-written by frontman Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards.

The Stones’ former manager, Allen Klein, owned rights to the song and allowed Ashcroft and co. to sample six notes of the song, however, upon its release in 1997, Klein sued The Verve as they supposedly broke their contract by using more than initially agreed.

As a result, Klein ended up with 100 per cent of the royalties. Subsequently, the songwriting credit was changed to Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft.

(L-R) Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform onstage during the No Filter tour at The London Stadium on May 25, 2018, in London, England.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, The Verve bassist Simon Jones revealed that the initial plan was an even split. “We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split,” he said. “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,’” he added. “‘You really don’t have much choice.’”

A truly Bitter Sweet situation perhaps?

According to the BBC, Ashcroft first announced the news during his lifetime achievement prize acceptance speech at the Ivor Novello Awards.

“As of last month,” he said, “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,” he added.

In his tweet, Ashcroft revealed that all royalties derived from the song would be returned to him. Jagger, 75, and Richards, also 75, were reportedly “happy for the songwriting credit to exclude their names.”

“I never had a personal beef with the Stones,” he told the BBC. “They’ve always been the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.”

“A huge unreserved heartfelt thanks and respect to Mick and Keith,” concluded the singer. “Music is power.”

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