Smith’s rep confirmed the news to Rolling Stone, after a report was published recently in British tabloid The Sun revealing that the 22-year-old singer had amicably settled a copyright dispute brought by Petty’s publishers over supposed similarities between “Stay with Me” and Tom’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down,” which he co-wrote with Lynne.
Smith’s spokesperson explained in a statement to Rolling Stone, “Recently the publishers for the song ‘I Won’t Back Down’…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.”
Sam’s rep added, “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.”
It’s unclear if Petty and Lynne will receive back royalties from the tune, which has been nominated for three Grammy Awards this year.