UPDATE 1/29/15 9:44 a.m: Tom Petty has issued a statement addressing the issue, and it sounds like he just wants everyone to stop talking about it. Read it below:
"About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. 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. Sam's people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement. The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it. How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all."
UPDATE 1/27/15 11:00 a.m.: Although Petty and Lynne have credits on "Stay With Me," don't expect them to get a little golden trophy for it should Smith win any Grammys for the song this year. The Wall Street Journal reports that Grammys Senior Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth states, "Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for 'Stay With Me.'...Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered GRAMMY recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work."
UPDATE 1/26/15 10:35 a.m.: Sam Smith's reps have provided the following statement to FADER:
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. 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. Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of "Stay With Me" along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.
Ever sit in the car (or bus, train—whatever), sing along to Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," and accidentally lapse into doing your own throaty rendition of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down"? Well, even if you haven't, they are pretty similar-sounding sounds melody-wise, and Smith's camp is owning up to it in the form of remuneration. NME (via The Sun) reports that Smith's and Petty's legal teams quietly settled out of court back in October to award Petty 12.5% writing credits to the rock vet, along with "I Won't Back Down" co-writer Jeff Lynne. Petty and Lynne are also listed as co-songwriters in ASCAP credits, and it was very hard for me not to finish this article without making a joke about how Petty "won't back down" from a legal argument, so where's my credit?
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