The Rolling Stones Return "Bitter Sweet Symphony" Credits to The Verve

May 23, 2019

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" by UK rock band, The Verve, is one of the biggest hit songs of the late '90s. The song even landed them a Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Song." But until today, the band, nor the song's writer, frontman Richard Ashcroft, have never earned a single dollar from the song.

The song features a sample by Andrew Loog Oldham's orchestral cover of "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones. Despite receiving permission to use the sample, former Stones manager Allen Klein and ABKCO Music & Records Inc., which owns the rights to the Rolling Stones' entire musical catalogue, pursued legal action against Ashcroft.

As a result, Ashcroft had to surrender all rights and royalties from "Bitter Sweet Symphony" to Klein and ABKCO, as well as change the songwriting credits to add both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The song would go on to make millions, with none of it going to Ashcroft.

But rather than get caught up in more legal action against ABCKO, Ashcroft made his case to Jagger and Richards himself. The duo "unhesitatingly and unconditionally" returned all royalties back to Ashcroft.

“In the future all royalties that would have gone to them for ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ will now go to Richard,” the band wrote in a statement. “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.”

Ashcroft added in his own statement, “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.”