The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” is undoubtedly the biggest hit the band ever had, and thanks largely to Cruel Intensions, it is a truly iconic work for children of the 1990s. But for the past 22 years, authorship of the song has been credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Until now! Pitchfork reports that after successfully suing for songwriting credit on “Symphony” all the way back in 1997, the Rolling Stones front men have returned that credit back to the Verve’s lead singer, Richard Ashcroft.
As Vulture previously noted in a helpful primer on musical copyrights, “The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ uses a sample of Andrew Loog Oldham’s orchestral cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘The Last Time.’ The latter band’s former manager, Allen Klein, sued and won 100 percent of the royalties from the hit track, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards receiving writing credits. Verve singer Richard Ashcroft called ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ the ‘best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years.’” Putting a little more salt on the wound, when “Symphony” got nominated for the Best Rock Song Grammy in 1999, Richards and Jagger were listed as the writers. (Oddly enough, even though the Verve pulled the sample from a cover of a Rolling Stones’ song, the sample you hear was in fact written by orchestra arranger David Whitaker, who received no credit on any of the recordings.)
Now, though, Ashcroft can celebrate, after his management directly appealed to Stones to change the credit. And in a press release from the Verve singer he says, “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.”