NEW YORK – Tom Petty has earned a writing credit on Sam Smith’s megahit “Stay With Me” for its similarities to his song “I Won’t Back Down.”
Smith’s representative said Monday the publishers of Petty’s 1989 hit contacted the publishers of Smith’s song, which was one of last year’s biggest hits.
Smith and “Stay With Me” writers James Napier and William Phillips say they agree their song is similar to Petty’s song, written with Jeff Lynne.
“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,” they said in a statement.
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Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. A representative for Petty declined to comment.
“Stay With Me,” Smith’s debut song, has sold more than 3.5 million tracks and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100. The breakthrough British singer is nominated for six Grammy Awards at next month’s show, including song of the year, an honor solely for the writers of a track.
The Recording Academy’s senior vice president of awards, Bill Freimuth, said Monday that Petty and Lynne would not be added to the nominations list for the song.
“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,’ ” Freimuth said in a statement.
Lynne and Petty won’t be considered Grammy nominees or Grammy recipients should the song win, he said. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just like other writers of sampled or interpolated work, he said.
Petty is still a contender at the Grammys: His latest album with the Heartbreakers, “Hypnotic Eye,” is nominated for best rock album. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart last year.
Smith’s other nominations include best new artist, album of the year and best pop vocal album for “In the Lonely Hour.” “Stay With Me” is also up for record of the year and best pop solo performance.