There's an "unseen" Bitter Sweet Symphony video where Richard Ashcroft gets beaten up

16 June 2023, 14:04

[ALTERNATE VERSION] / The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony

You'll be amazed when you see this rather violent alternate ending to the classic Verve clip.

Radio X

By Radio X

Occasionally, the internet will throw up some of the most amazing things.

About three years ago, someone uploaded an incredible version of The Verve's iconic Bitter Sweet Symphony video - one which sees Richard Ashcroft beaten up on the street by some thugs.

And it's genuine - not one of the many parodies that have come along since the single was first released in June 1997.

Instead of Ashcroft making his way relentlessly down the East London street oblivious to all around him, in this version of the memorable clip, the singer crashes into a trio of men who subsequently attack him.

The bruised and bloody frontman then continues his walk in pain, well into the darkness of night!

The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony

The alternate video (which is admittedly in rough shape) runs identically to the most commonly-seen version: Ashcroft walks over the car's bonnet and the female driver has a go at him. However, after Richard makes his way through the marketplace and another girl has looked him up and down, the clip takes a different, darker turn.

In unfamiliar footage, Ashcroft makes his way across another road, and a car whizzes by, just narrowly missing him (a special effect? Let's hope so). He then encounters three men and walks straight into the one in the middle who is blocking his way.

Look out! Richard Ashcroft barges into a group of men.
Look out! Richard Ashcroft barges into a group of men. Picture: YouTube

The men immediately retaliate, viciously punching Ashcroft, who hits the deck. The thugs then kick the Verve frontman as he lies on the floor.

Argh! The men set about Ashcroft, punching and kicking him.
Argh! The men set about Ashcroft, punching and kicking him. Picture: YouTube

As the men walk off into the distance, the singer painfully gets to his feet, where he sees the other members of the band warily watching the fracas from a distance.

The other members of The Verve watch on as their lead singer receives a kicking.
The other members of The Verve watch on as their lead singer receives a kicking. Picture: YouTube

The singer then carries on his relentless walk, obviously in pain, which continues into the night until he is stopped by a wall that bars his way. The video ends with a shot of his finger reaching out to press against the barrier, trying to find a way through.

A bloody Ashcroft walks on into the night - as seen in the "alternate" version of Bitter Sweet Symphony
A bloody Ashcroft walks on into the night - as seen in the "alternate" version of Bitter Sweet Symphony. Picture: YouTube

In the released version of the video, Ashcroft stops as a car goes by and stares into the window, then continues to walk down the street. The nearest he gets to any violence is when he barges past two men who laugh at the singer's arrogance (are these two of the thugs that batter Richard in the alternate version? The video is too blurry to tell!).

Instead of looking on as their singer gets roughed up, the other members of The Verve appear at the end of the released video to walk with Ashcroft in solidarity. The clip fades on a reverse shot as they walk into the distance.

All friends together: Ashcroft is joined by the other members of The Verve in the widely-seen version of Bitter Sweet Symphony.
All friends together: Ashcroft is joined by the other members of The Verve in the widely-seen version of Bitter Sweet Symphony. Picture: YouTube

Although there's not been any official word on why the video was completed in two versions, the scenes of Richard Ashcroft having his ribs viciously kicked in were probably too strong for daytime broadcast... and there's no record of the alternate cut having aired on TV (there's a clean opening and no on-screen captions that would indicate an MTV screening, for example).

Richard Ashcroft performs Bitter Sweet Symphony live for Radio X

Bitter Sweet Symphony director Walter Stern claimed that he based the video on an idea he had at college about "a man trying to walk down the street in a straight line" and the clip has always been seen as a nod to Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy, which sees Shara Nelson strolling down a neighbourhood in LA.