Statement from Richard Ashcroft 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. “
Over 20 years ago Richard Ashcroft wrote one of his most important songs Bitter Sweet Symphony, but near the end of the creative process a four second sample of an Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral recording of The Last Time was sampled and used as a loop in the backing track.
Permission for the use of the recording was obtained but for whatever reason at the time permission for the use of the song was overlooked.
By the time the mistake was realised a huge number of copies of the Urban Hymns album had been manufactured around the world and the record company were reluctant to scrap them.
They were confident they would be able to do a deal with the publishers and convinced Richard to allow the release of the album as it stood.
However Mr Allen Klein, the owner of ABKCO, was very protective of his copyright and the only deal that he was prepared to do involved Richard effectively signing away all of his rights in one of his most iconic songs including the total lyrical content.
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.
Richard has endured that loss for many years.
A few months ago his management decided to pursue a strategy which any number of people had been told over the years was a futile course of action with zero chance of success.
They decided to appeal to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards directly to try regain the song for Richard to the extent it was within their power to do so.
Mick and Keith immediately, unhesitatingly and unconditionally agreed to this request.
Incredibly generously and as an indication of what great artists and men they are they have agreed that to the extent it is within their power they have given Richard his song back.
In the future all royalties that would have gone to them for Bitter Sweet Symphony will now go to Richard, but in many ways even more importantly they have said that they no longer require a writing credit for Bitter Sweet Symphony, kindly acknowledging that as far as they are concerned it is Richard’s song.
Last year, The Rolling Stones invited Richard Ashcroft to support them at their huge outdoor shows in Manchester and Edinburgh, making him the only artist to join them at more than one show during their 2018 European tour.