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Tom Petty performs in concert with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers during their Hypnotic Eye Tour 2014 in PhiladelphiaOwen Sweeney


Art may imitate life, but don't try stealing any song melodies from Tom Petty.

The Associated Press reports that the 64-year-old rock icon has officially earned a writing credit on Sam Smith's chart-topping hit Stay With Me for its undeniable similarity to his song I Won't Back Down.

According to Smith's representatives, the publishers of Petty's original song recently contacted the publishers of the Smith song, the first single off the 22-year-old British singer's debut album In the Lonely Hour.

In the same statement, Smith and his Stay With Me co-writers James Napier and William Phillips conceded that their song was pretty darn similar to Petty's song, which he co-penned with former Electric Light Orchestra frontman 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," said Smith's reps in the statement.

Decide for yourself on how similar the two tracks are by listening to Smith's song here, and Petty's song here.

One of several singles from the album Full Moon Fever, the defiant anthem I Won't Back Down was a modest hit for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1989 – three years before Smith was born – and peaked at number 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 songs chart.

So far, Petty has declined to comment publicly on the controversy.

Stay With Me, meanwhile, peaked at number two on the Billboard chart and has sold more than 3.5 million downloads since its release last April.

Where the story gets interesting: Smith is also nominated for six Grammys at next week's awards ceremony – including song of the year, which is traditionally an honour reserved solely for the writers of a song – titled Stay With Me.

On Monday, the Grammys' governing body, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), announced that neither Petty nor Lynne would be added to the nominations list for Stay With Me.

"Since Lynn and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering this original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for Stay With Me," said NARAS senior vice president of awards Bill Freimuth in a prepared statement.

And should Stay With Me win song of the year, Petty and Lynne would receive certificates to "honour their participation in the work," Freimuth added.

But the good news for Petty (besides the fact that Smith now has to pay him royalties for Stay With Me): His latest album with Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye, is nominated for best rock album at the Grammy show slated for the Staples Center on February 8.

And besides, anybody even vaguely familiar with the laconic Petty's musical oeuvre ever believed he would take legal action against the newcomer.

Keep in mind that in 2006, rumours abounded that Petty had a strong legal case against the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose single Dani California sounded a whole lot like Petty's 1993 single Mary Jane's Last Dance.

Petty effectively scotched those rumours with a Rolling Stone interview in which he said, "I don't believe in lawsuits much I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs."


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