The Rolling Stones and The Verve seem to be more sweet on each other than bitter after resolving a 20-year dispute over songwriting credits for The Verve smash hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft announced on Twitter Thursday that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Stones had agreed last month to give him full writing credit and all the royalties for the song.
“This remarkable and life-affirming turn of events was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith,” Ashcroft said on Twitter.
But the situation was different last November when Ashcroft explained the dispute in an interview on Consequence of Sound’s Kyle Meredith With … podcast.
“I’m coming for that money,” Ashcroft told the outlet. “Someone stole God-knows-how-many million dollars off me in 1997, and they’ve still got it.”
The Verve, a Britpop band who last performed in 2008, first broke into the musical big leagues in 1997 on the back of “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” a hit in the U.S. and across Europe. We named it one of the best Britpop songs of all time back in 2014.
Disputes about the song’s authorship sprung up before the song even hit the mainstream.
Ashcroft had written the lyrics, but the instrumental elements of the song borrowed from an orchestral version of The Stones’ “The Last Time.” Ashcroft had permission from Decca, the record label that released the orchestral version of “The Last Time,” to use some of the instrumentals in exchange for half the royalties of “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
But Stones manager Allen Klein sued The Verve for plagiarism just after “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was released because he thought they had used more of “The Last Time” than they’d agreed on.
A 1997 settlement gave Jagger and Richards songwriter credits, and handed over royalties to Klein’s ABKCO Records.
“‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life,” the song begins. “Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money, then you die.”
But now that money matters have been set aside, Ashcroft can rest easy, rake in some new royalties and perhaps listen to “Bitter Sweet Symphony” in peace.
You can join him down memory lane and give “Bitter Sweet Symphony” a listen below.