The Britpop anthem, which famously features a four second sample of an orchestral arrangement of The Rolling Stones’ ‘The Last Time,’ has been a source of major discontent for Ashcroft for the better part of twenty years despite its enormous success. While Ashcroft initially sought to clear the sample at the time of release, The Rolling Stones’ former manager Allen Klein and record company ABKCO Music & Records Inc, who owned the rights to the band’s catalogue, pursued legal action against The Verve; a move which eventuated in Ashcroft forcibly relinquishing his rights to the song and adding Richards and Jagger as songwriters on the track.
Due to the mass media usage of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ The Rolling Stones and their former label and manager ended up making millions from the lawsuit, while Ashcroft copped nothing short of a penny, vowing last year that he was “coming for his money” in an interview with Consequence Of Sound.
Now, it looks like the money’s indeed come to Ashcroft, with news emerging today that Richards and Jagger have returned their songwriting credits and royalties back to The Verve, with a press statement reading “In the future all royalties that would have gone to them for ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ will now go to Richard,” reads a press release. “But in many ways even more importantly they have said that they no longer require a writing credit for ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, kindly acknowledging that as far as they are concerned it is Richard’s song.”
In a statement of his own, Ashcroft expressed his happiness at having the rights to his song returned, gushing that “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.”