Mick Jagger And Keith Richards Were Applauded For Finally Giving This Band The Rights To Their Hit Song Back. tt

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards sued a band over copyright infringement in 1997 only to give them the rights to their song back over two decades later.


Copyright lawsuits are a common occurrence in the music industry. Some of the biggest pop stars, such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Ed Sheeran, have been sued for copyright infringement at least once. But this doesn’t only happen in the pop genre. Rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin have also been sued for plagiarism for several of their songs.

Even The Rolling Stones have had some of their songs sued for copyright infringement, with their most recent lawsuit involving their 2020 hit single ‘Living in a Ghost Town.’ However, this iconic band has also been on the other side of a lawsuit, accusing other bands and artists of ripping off their songs. Their biggest copyright fight was over the song ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’ A couple of years ago, The Rolling Stones surprised fans by giving back the rights to this song to the band who wrote it.

Which Rolling Stones songs have been part of lawsuits that flew under the radar?

The Verve Wrote ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ But Lost the Rights Because It Sampled A Rolling Stones’ Song

Richard Ashcroft of The Verve performing at the 2008 Coachella festival in Indio


The English rock band the Verve released the song ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ in 1997. Although this was the lead single of their third studio album, this would go on to become the band’s most popular song. ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ quickly reached the top of the UK Singles Chart, as well as the Billboard Hot 100.

The song gained so much popularity that it was named the “single of the year” by Rolling Stone and NME. It was also nominated for Best British Single at the 1998 Brit Awards. Likewise, the music video for this song was nominated for Video of the Year, Best Group Video, and Best Alternative Video at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards. However, the Verve ended up losing millions for this song. Shortly after the song was released, they were sued for copyright infringement by Allen Klein, the former manager of the Rolling Stones.

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As it turns out, the Verve had used a sample from a 1965 version of the Rolling Stones’ song ‘The Last Time’ by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra to create ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’ Although they’d initially got the rights to use the ‘Last Time’ sample from the copyright holder, Decca Records, they were later denied permission from Klein, who claimed that the Verve had used far more of ‘The Last Time’ than they originally agreed upon. Ultimately, the band lost the copyright lawsuit and had to relinquish the credits and part of the royalties of the song to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Another part of the royalties went to ABKCO Records, Klein’s company.

As if that weren’t enough, Andrew Oldham sued the Verve for $1.7 million in 1999 for royalties. Given that the band had used a sample of Oldham’s version of ‘The Last Time,’ they also lost this lawsuit. So, all the royalties of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ ended up going to Jagger, Richards, Klein, and Oldham. However, it seems that the royalties were not divided equally. In 2008, Oldham joked that he’d only been able to purchase “a pretty presentable watch strap” with his share of the song.


The Rolling Stones on the red carpetVia: Deposit Photos


After winning the copyright infringement lawsuit against the Verve, the Rolling Stones took full credit for the song ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’ They even went as far as including the single in two different editions of their “Greatest Songs of All Time” collection. That’s why fans were shocked to learn that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had finally given back the rights of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ to the Verve in 2019.

More than 20 years after losing the rights to their song, the Verve’s frontman, Richard Ashcroft, announced that they were given back the rights to ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’ 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,” the musician tweeted.

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Ashcroft also pointed out that both musicians agreed to have “the writing credit to exclude their names and all their royalties derived from the song they will now pass to me.” Of course, many fans applauded Jagger and Richards for this gesture. But many others reproached the musicians for not doing this sooner.

That same year, the son of the late Allen Klein ceded the rights to ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ to Ashcroft. Meaning that the Verve now owns all royalties of this iconic song. “They play [‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’] before England plays,” Ashcroft told the BBC. “So I can sit back and watch England … and finally just enjoy the moment.”

The Rolling Stones band Members Keith Richards and Mick Jagger Hackney DiamondsVia: Instar


Over the years, the Rolling Stones have been sued for copyright infringement many times. For instance, the band was accused of copying k.d. lang’s 1992 single ‘Constant Craving’ for their 1997 single ‘Anybody Seen My Baby?’ Although they claimed this was a case of “unconscious plagiarism,” the Rolling Stones ended up giving credit to lang and his songwriting partner Ben Mink for this song.

Years later, the band was accused of “improperly borrowing” the Robert Johnson songs ‘Love in Vain’ and ‘Stop Breakin’ Down.’ More recently, the Rolling Stones were sued by a lesser-known artist for ripping off two of his songs in their 2020 single ‘Living in a Ghost Town,’ but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by a judge. Maybe having so many of their songs accused of being rip-offs is what finally led Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to agree to give back the credits of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony.’

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