Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Jazz Summers (Verve Manager) On Bittersweet Symphony

A new interview with Jazz Summers (ex Verve manager) appeared online recently giving insight to the whole Bittersweet Symphony debate between The Verve and The Rolling Stones regarding songwriting credits:

"I remember hearing The Verve put the finishing touches to Urban Hymns in 1997 and thinking, this album’s a masterpiece. That was the day I discovered there was a Rolling Stones sample on Bittersweet Symphony. It felt like winning the lottery but losing the ticket.

The sample, the producer told me, was from an orchestral version of the Stones’ 1965 hit The Last Time. A shadow crept across my soul. I knew who owned the copyright for that era of the Rolling Stones. It was a man called Allen Klein: former manager of the Rolling Stones, former manager of The Beatles.

Klein ran a company called ABKCO and he was notorious as a breaker of both deals and b***s.
For Bittersweet Symphony to exist, we’d have to come to an agreement with Klein about our respective shares of the songwriting royalties. I called his assistant Iris Keitel in America and attempted to charm her.

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Yes, I know about this. Some idiot from EMI phoned me about this yesterday. I told him to f*** off, Jazz. You needn’t have called. We’re not going to let you use it.’

I phoned Nancy Berry, who ran Virgin Records in America, and asked if there was any chance she could play Bittersweet Symphony to Mick and Keith. Those two were bound to put music before business.

The following week, Nancy called back with news that Klein would allow the song to come out and had agreed a 50-50 split. I was delighted. I called up the band and they were ecstatic, too. It was what they deserved, at the very least – a 50 per cent royalty on the song they’d written.

The next week, the contracts arrived. The deal wasn’t 50-50. It was 100 per cent Jagger/Richards. I phoned Nancy, and she confirmed what they’d done.

‘The contract is right, Jazz, and it is 50-50, like they said: 50 per cent Mick, 50 per cent Keith.’

When Bittersweet Symphony was nominated for a Grammy, the song was attributed to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

It baffles me, how Mick and Keith could bear that. 

Maybe they’re so used to having money and greatness bestowed on them, they just nodded, banked the cash and went with it.

We were asked to put the song on a Vauxhall advert. We declined, so ABKCO re-made it without the vocal and gave Vauxhall permission. 

It’s the same when the football comes on TV in England: Richard Ashcroft’s sons tell him his music’s on, but it isn’t, not really, and that hurts him.

I loved The Verve, but there were tensions, and I couldn’t stop them from splitting. Likewise, if my artists don’t support me I can’t do my job. I need their backing."

To read the rest of the interview click here

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