22 Years Later, Richard Ashcroft of the Verve Was Granted Royalties to ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ By the Rolling Stones

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Rock Cellar Magazine

The 1997 single “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is how much of the world discovered The Verve, the English rock/experimental band fronted by songwriter Richard Ashcroft. The song, from the band’s album Urban Hymns, was one of the most ubiquitous singles of the late ’90s, and is still in heavy rotation today on satellite radio and FM dials:

What wasn’t a reality until this week, though, was Ashcroft having access to any of the royalties that went along with the track’s success. As you may already have known, the song featured a sample of an Andrew Loog Oldham symphonic rendition of the Stones’ “The Last Time,” which was not cleared by the Stones’ camp prior to the song’s release.

That meant, legally, that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were credited as songwriters behind “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” and all royalties went to them instead of Ashcroft.

Per the NME, that’s finally been changed, as the Stones granted Ashcroft royalties and rights to the track. Said Ashcroft in a statement passed along by the NME:

“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’,” Ashcroft said. “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.”

More from Ashcroft’s statement:

“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.”

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