Richard Ashcroft: 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' Injustice Resolved
One of the most blatant injustices in modern rock music has been resolved, it was revealed Thursday.
Singer-songwriter Richard Ashcroft is finally receiving royalties for The Verve’s 1997 song “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
Speaking at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft said: “As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do.”
“Bitter Sweet Symphony” samples a string sequence from a 1965 instrumental version of The Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time” by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. Jagger and Richards had agreed to license a five-note sequence in exchange for half of the royalties – but then-manager Allen Klein filed a lawsuit claiming The Verve broke the agreement by using a longer sample.
Ashcroft forfeited all royalties to resolve the dispute, costing him millions. (Ironically, on the track Ashcroft sings: "Trying to make ends meet / you're a slave to the money then you die.")
Bitter Sweet Press Release. ✌🏻 pic.twitter.com/NnmiGf8e6C— Richard Ashcroft (@richardashcroft) May 23, 2019
On Thursday, he told BBC News that he never blamed Jagger and Richards. “I never had a personal beef with the Stones. They’ve always been the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”
Calling the development “life-affirming in a way,” Ashcroft thanked Jagger and Richards for acknowledging that he was responsible for “this f**king masterpiece.”
In a statement, The Rolling Stones acknowledged the situation was unfair to Ashcroft, who wrote the song’s lyrics and melody.
“Of course there was a huge financial cost but any songwriter will know that there is a huge emotional price greater than the money in having to surrender the composition of one of your own songs,” it read. “Richard has endured that loss for many years.”