Sam Smith has been having a rough time of it this month, and part of the reason is that “Stay With Me,” Smith’s breakout hit from last year, turns out to be a little too close for comfort to Tom Petty’s 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down.” Earlier this week, the news came out that an out-of-court settlement awarded Petty and “I Won’t Back Down” co-writer Jeff Lynne a 12.5% writing credit on “Stay With Me.” According to a statement from Smith’s camp, Smith and his co-writers were “not previously familiar” with “I Won’t Back Down” but that they “acknowledged the similarity” and had no trouble coming to an immediate agreement. Petty has now issued a no-hard-feelings statement on the whole affair, and here it is:
About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say 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.
Smith’s In The Lonely Hour was not one of last year’s 5 best Tom Petty albums.