UPDATE – Sam Smith Says Tom Petty Settlement the Result of a ‘Complete Coincidence,’ Petty Agrees
1/29 UPDATE: Tom Petty has released an official statement "about the Sam Smith thing," calling it "a musical accident." He said, "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."
Tom Petty and Sam Smith have reached an amicable settlement regarding the similarities between Smith's 'Stay With Me' and Petty's 'I Won't Back Down,' but even if Smith ended up yielding cowriting credits to Petty and Jeff Lynne, he's adamant that any musical overlap between the two songs was definitely not on purpose.
Responding to a flurry of reports about the change -- which took place last fall, but was kept quiet for months -- a spokesperson for Smith told Rolling Stone that the whole thing was just a fluke of songwriting.
"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," explained the representative. "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."
Petty hasn't issued any official comment, but that isn't terribly surprising; he doesn't have anything to gain by adding his two cents here, and in the past, he's expressed a very laid back point of view regarding unintentional plagiarism of his work. "I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there. And a lot of rock 'n' roll songs sound alike," he told Rolling Stone in 2006 when asked about similarities between the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Dani California' and his own 'Mary Jane's Last Dance.' "Ask Chuck Berry. The Strokes took 'American Girl' [for their song 'Last Nite'], and I saw an interview with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, 'OK, good for you.' It doesn't bother me."
See the Yearbook Photos of Tom Petty and Other Rock Stars