Tom Petty handled the Sam Smith 'plagiarism' claim in the nicest way

US rocker says 'these things can happen' about similarity between his and British singer's songs

Andrew Buncombe
Thursday 29 January 2015 17:25
Musicians pay tribute to Tom Petty

*We are re-sharing this story after the sad death of legendary rock artist Tom Petty - find the latest news and tributes here*

So there are not going to be any microphones at dawn. At least not for now.

Amid the swirl of comments that British singer Sam Smith’s Grammy-nominated hit Stay with Me calls to mind with some intensity Tom Petty’s 1989 track I Won’t Back Down, the American rocker has opted for magnanimity. He also recognised that song writing was an art, not a precise science.

In a statement posted on his website, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member said he felt no hard feelings towards the British star and suggested the similarities were nothing more than an accident. He said he never intended to sue Smith and that he was not aware how their settlement became public.

Tom Petty said he had no hard feelings over the similarity between a song of his and one by Sam Smith

“All all my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by,” he said.

Earlier this week it was reported that Smith has been paying royalties to Petty and ELO’s Jeff Lynne, who co-wrote I Won’t Back Down, following an out-of-court settlement. Each of the men now receives 12.5 per cent of the song’s royalties.

“Recently the publishers for the song I Won’t Back Down, written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for Stay With Me, written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions,” a representative for Smith told The Independent.

“Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of Stay With Me listened to I Won’t Back Down and acknowledged the similarity.”

The British artist’s breakthrough hit sold more than 3.5m tracks and is up for song of the year at next month’s Grammy Awards.

Petty, 64, dismissed the controversy surrounding the allegations of plagiarism that some have levelled and said it was “hardly news”. According to the Associated Press, he added: "I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.”

Follow Andrew Buncombe on Twitter: @AndrewBuncombe

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments