Rolling Stones give up royalties on hit 90s track in 'magnanimous gesture'

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones perform live on stage.
Matthew Baker | Getty Images

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones have handed over the rights to a hit song despite legally winning its royalties more than two decades ago.

Richard Ashcroft, lead singer of British rock band The Verve, lost the rights to his most famous song "Bitter Sweet Symphony" in 1997.

A dispute arose when The Verve asked for permission to sample a short sequence from a version of the Stones' song "The Last Time," which was covered by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra in 1965. The Stones licensed a five-note section in exchange for half of the song's royalties, but the Verve allegedly breached this arrangement by using a longer segment than agreed.

Jagger and Richards have since held the rights to all royalties earned on the song, but have now agreed for all future royalties to go to Ashcroft. According to the BBC, Ashcroft has acknowledged that it was the Rolling Stones' late manager who had been responsible for the situation and not the musicians themselves.

It isn't clear how much the song's royalties have earned to date — but it reached number two in the U.K. charts and number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It has also been streamed more than 346 million times on Spotify.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ashcroft said regaining the royalties was a "remarkable and life affirming turn of events that was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith."

Jagger and Richards would also give up their songwriting credits on the record, Ashcroft added.

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