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Mick Jagger And Keith Richards Give Their Share Of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ Royalties To The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft

ET Canada logo ET Canada 2019-05-24 Brent Furdyk
Richard Ashcroft, Keith Richards are posing for a picture: Rex/Shutterstock Rex/Shutterstock

Richard Ashcroft, former frontman of The Verve, will now receive royalties to his biggest hit — and it's all thanks to the generosity of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Released in 1997, The Verve hit gold with the Ashcroft-penned anthem "Bitter Sweet Symphony", which remains a classic-rock radio staple.

However, Ashcroft has not seen a dime in publishing royalties, because of a legal dispute involving a brief snippet of a five-note segment of a orchestral version of The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time", which the band licensed in exchange for 50 per cent of the royalties.

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Things went off the rails, however, when the Stones' former manager, Allen Klein, and ABCKO Records, the holding company that held the rights to that song, filed a plagiarism lawsuit alleging the band used a larger piece of the song than was negotiated. This led the publishing rights to revert to ABCKO, and the songwriting credit for "Bitter Sweet Symphony" to go to Jagger and Richards.

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Understandably, the band was not thrilled with the outcome, particularly when the song received a Grammy nomination — for supposed songwriters Jagger and Richards

"We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split," Verve bassist Simon Jones told BBC News.

"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,'" he added.

Asked to comment back in 1999 on whether he felt The Verve had been treated fairly, Richards quipped: "I'm out of whack here, this is serious lawyer [stuff]," adding: "If The Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money."

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Finally, however, the issue has been resolved. In a tweet issued on Thursday, Ashcroft announced that the Glimmer Twins have turned over their share of the song to him.

"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 will not pass to me," he wrote in a statement.

Speaking with reporters after receiving a lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft declared: "As of last month, 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."

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Ashcroft acknowledged that it was Klein (who passed away in 2009 and whose bitter split with the Stones in 1971 was followed by years of litigation) who caused the situation, not the musicians.

"I never had a personal beef with the Stones," Ashcroft told the BBC. "They've always have been the greatest rock and roll band in the world."

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