In April 2014, Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” took over the
world charts and got stuck in everyone’s heads, selling over 4 million copies worldwide and receiving Best Pop Performance and Record of the Year nods at the 2015 Grammys. But, listeners noted its resemblance to a 1989 track by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, called “I Won’t Back Down.” Some of those listeners, it turns out, were Tom Petty’s lawyers.
Reports say that the out of court settlement happened in October, but information was just leaked this weekend. The settlement reportedly includes a 12.5% writing credit (that includes royalties) to both Petty and singer-composer Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame).
A rep for Sam Smith released a statement, saying:
“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.”
Check out this YouTube clip where parts of the two tracks are overlaid.