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17 Jun 2019 15:19
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  •   Home > News > International

    The Verve's Richard Ashcroft gets royalties to Bitter Sweet Symphony after row with The Rolling Stones

    The 90s classic never made British band The Verve much money because they had sampled a Rolling Stones song. Now, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have signed over their rights.

    You can probably whistle the melody, and you probably remember the video clip.

    The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony is not just a 90s classic; it's a key data point in the history of British pop music.

    "Would any other rock band in the world make a track like this?" the band's singer Richard Ashcroft, famously immune to self-doubt, asked an interviewer around the time of its release in 1997.

    The answer to that question, for many years at least, was: actually, yes.

    In fact, they had.

    Shortly after the song's release, The Rolling Stones sued The Verve for copyright infringement because the younger band's track was based on a sample from an orchestral version of the Stones' song The Last Time.

    Before the release of their album Urban Hymns, The Verve had secured permission to use a five-note section of The Last Time.

    The deal, brokered by the Stones' longtime manger Allen Klein, would see the songwriting royalties split 50-50 between The Verve and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.

    But the deal broke down when Klein accused The Verve of using more than had been agreed to.

    "We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing," Verve bassist Simon Jones said.

    "They rung up and said we want 100 per cent or take it out of the shops, you don't have much choice."

    The Britpop act relinquished their rights. For two decades, The Verve — who broke up in 1999 and then again in 2008 — made no publishing royalties from what was probably their most famous song.

    That ends now, thanks to Mick and Keith

    Overnight, Ashcroft revealed on Twitter that the dispute — one of the more unbelievable in the canon of music copyright disputes — had been put to bed.

    Jagger and Richards had decided to hand him the rights to Bitter Sweet Symphony, Ashcroft said.

    In a tweeted statement, Ashcroft thanked numerous people, including Jody Klein, Allen Klein's son, who took over his father's business ABKCO, a record label and music publisher.

    Ashcroft did not mention the particulars of the deal.

    It is not clear what will become of all the money the Stones duo have already made from the song, given it was released 22 years ago and has been streamed 346 million times on Spotify alone. Urban Hymns has sold more than 10 million copies.

    ABKCO has been contacted for comment.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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