So how did The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft get the rights of “Bittersweet Symphony” back from the Rolling Stones? This explains everything.

One of the great music rights issues of the last quarter-century was how The Verve lost “Bittersweet Symphony” to The Rolling Stones. But then earlier this year, The Stones agreed to revert things to Richard Ashcroft. (Here’s the whole story.)

Nice move, Mick and Keef. But why, after 23 years, did you agree to do this? What changed? How were you convinced? Billboard wanted to know, so they did a little asking around.

“When Steve Kutner and John Kennedy took over managing Richard Ashcroft in early 2018, they knew one of the first things on their task list would be to look for a resolution to their client’s long-held grievance over ownership of the iconic song, The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’


“To this day, the only publishing money that Ashcroft has ever received from ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ is $1,000, which he was paid as part of the settlement deal — a tiny fraction of the almost $5 million that Billboard estimates the song has earned in total publishing revenue through sales and synchronization on commercials, movies and TV shows over the years.”

A thousand dollars? Wow. We continue.

“[Rolling Stones manager Jocelyn] Smyth made no promises but said she would personally speak with Jagger and Richards. True to her word, the managers received a call from Smyth in April saying that both men “completely agree” with Ashcroft’s request and they would henceforth sign over their share of the songwriters’ royalties from ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ to its composer. To the managers’ delight, Jagger and Richards also said that going forward they would no longer receive a writing credit on the track.”

Read the whole story here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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