Earlier this week, British pop crooner Sam Smith made headlines after he agreed to pay royalties to Tom Petty over the perceived similarities between Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Today, Petty released a statement clarifying what happened and showing amicable feelings towards Smith.
In the statement, Petty downplayed the plagiarism accusations towards Smith as not being a big deal. “All my years of songwriting have taught me that these things can happen,” Petty said. “Most times you catch it before it goes out the studio door but in this case it got by.” Petty also stated that he had no intention of suing Smith over the song, and he claimed to have no idea how the story got out to the media.
Smith and Petty came to an agreement over songwriting royalties back in October, but reports didn’t surface until The Sun picked up on the story on Monday. While both Petty and Jeff Lynne (who co-wrote “I Won’t Back Down”) are now listed as songwriters on “Stay With Me,” they will not be eligible to receive a Grammy should Smith win an award for the song. According to Grammy senior VP Bill Freimuth, Petty and Lynne aren’t eligible because “they did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their work to have been interpolated.”