11 January 1999

The Verve Sued Again Over ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’

Recording copyright at issue in suit by former Rolling Stones producer and manager

Another ex-manager of the Rolling Stones has sued for royalties from The Verve’s hit single “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”

This time, the aggrieved party is Andrew Loog Oldham, who managed the Stones from 1963-67 and produced several Stones albums. In a suit filed last week in England, Oldham contends he owns the orchestral recording of the Stones’ “The Last Time” that The Verve sampled on “Bitter Sweet  Symphony” and therefore is owed up to 1 million pounds (about $1.7 million) in mechanical royalties.

In late 1997, The Verve settled a suit filed by Allen Klein, who managed the Stones from 1967-70. Klein still controls the songwriting copyright to “The Last Time” — and all other songs the Stones wrote through 1970.

The Verve agreed to give the Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards writing credit on “Bitter Sweet Symphony” and to turn over publishing royalties to Klein and his company, Abkco.

Oldham, reached at his home in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday, said he is seeking his share of the considerable revenue generated by “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” which sold more than a million copies as a single and was used in advertising campaigns by Vauxhall, a European automobile company, and sneakers magnate Nike.

“I’m looking for royalties and damages for the illegal use of my recording that was copied or stolen or however you want to put it,” Oldham said.

A London-based spokesperson for The Verve said the art-pop band had no comment, but he said the dispute seems to be between Oldham and Klein. “Money has been paid out that Loog Oldham hasn’t received, and that’s what the problem is,” the spokesperson said.

Publicists for the Stones were unable to get a comment from the classic-rock band’s current managers by press time.

The recording The Verve sampled is a version of the Stones’ 1965 hit “The Last Time” that Oldham recorded for an album called The Rolling Stones Songbook, a collection of symphonic remakes released under the moniker the Andrew Oldham Orchestra.

It became a crucial part of the arrangement of “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” the lead track from The Verve’s 1997 album Urban Hymns.

Oldham said he tried negotiating with representatives from Virgin Records and lawyers for The Verve before he filed the suit.

“Efforts to deal out of court fell through in November,” he said, without offering specifics.
  • Source: MTV, by Christopher O'Connor
  • Contributing Editor James Finlayson contributed to this report