Richard Ashcroft regains rights to Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve

26 May 2019, 08:00 | Updated: 26 May 2019, 08:06

The singer-songwriter has regained control of the classic track after Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agreed to give up their shares in the song.

Richard Ashcroft has regained the rights to The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony, after Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agreed to give up their shares in the song.

The 47-year-old singer and songwriter penned the track in 1997 and was the lead single from The Verve’s album Urban Hymns.

The instrumental backing to the track was sampled from a symphonic version of The Rolling Stones' The Last Time, which was recorded in 1965 by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra.

The Stones originally agreed to license a five-note segment of the recording in exchange for 50% of the royalties, but this was apparently voided when The Verve were accused of using more of the track than they had agreed.

Former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein filed a lawsuit on behalf of himself (under his holding company ABKCO Records), and songwriters Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In the end, The Verve had to forfeit all songwriting royalties for Bitter Sweet Symphony and publishing rights to ABKCO, with Jagger and Richards added to the songwriting credits, and Ashcroft losing composer credit.

After enduring the loss of his song for more than two decades, Richard has now finally regained the rights to the track, after his management appealed to Rolling Stones members Mick and Keith directly.

The pair have agreed to give Ashcroft back the rights to the song, meaning all future royalties made from the track will go to Richard.

But more importantly, Mick and Keith have said they no longer require a writing credit for Bitter Sweet Symphony, as they acknowledge that as far as they are concerned, the song belongs to Richard.

In a statement given after he received the Ivor Novello Award on Thursday (23 May) for his contributions to music, Richard said: "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."

As proof of their newly formed bond, The Rolling Stones invited Richard to support them at their huge outdoor shows in Manchester and Edinburgh last year, making him the only artist to join them at more than one show during their 2018 European tour.