Bitter sweet victory! The Verve star Richard Ashcroft thanks Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Richard Ashcroft celebrates winning the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the Ivor Novellos on Thursday night

Richard Ashcroft celebrates winning the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the Ivor Novellos on Thursday night

Richard Ashcroft celebrates winning the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the Ivor Novellos on Thursday night

It’s a bitter sweet victory for the lead singer of the Verve, who finally won the rights to his hit song following a 22-year legal battle with the Rolling Stones.

Richard Ashcroft, 47, said the ‘bitter taste’ following years of conflict has gone after Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over the rights to Bitter Sweet Symphony last month.

Since the song was released in 1997, Mr Ashcroft has not earnt any royalties as a result of the dispute, The Times reports.

The Verve sought permission before they released the song to use an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones’ The Last Time as part of the song, which was recorded by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra in 1965.

The Stones agreed to grant the use of a five-note segment of the recording in exchange for half of the royalties.

But Stones’ manager Allen Klein, who died in 2009, claimed the Verve had used a larger chunk of the song and voided the agreement and began a lengthy plagiarism case.

Mr Ashcroft insisted it was Mr Klein, rather than the musicians, who had been responsible for the dispute.

Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have finally given Ashcroft the full rights to Bittersweet Symphony after a 22-year legal battle

Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have finally given Ashcroft the full rights to Bittersweet Symphony after a 22-year legal battle

Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have finally given Ashcroft the full rights to Bittersweet Symphony after a 22-year legal battle

He said: ‘It always left a slight bitter taste. Whenever I heard it, there was always something knocking around in my mind. 

‘Now that’s finally clear and I can thank Mick and Keith for that.

‘It’s incredible because the Stones, Mick and Keith, didn’t need to do that.

‘It also goes against the tide. At the moment there’s a lot of lawyers chasing around songs and melodies.’ 

Announcing the news at the Ivor Novello awards in London on Thursday night, where he was given the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award, Ashcroft said the dispute was never about the money but about his need to be credited.

He told the crowd: ‘Thank you so much Keith Richards and Mick Jagger for acknowledging me as the writer of a f***ing masterpiece. It’ll live forever.’

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