On this day in music history: December 6, 1969 – The Rolling Stones headline a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, CA. Originally intended to be held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the concert is moved to the Altamont Speedway at the last minute, fifty miles away when an agreement cannot be reached with SF city officials. Attended by over 300,000 people, the concert alsos feature the Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers and the Grateful Dead. As they had done with their Hyde Park concert earlier in the year, The Stones hire Hells Angels to do security for the event. Unlike that event which is peaceful and goes off without incident, Altamont turns violent and ultimately tragic when concert goer Meredith Hunter is stabbed and beaten to death by several Hells Angels when he brandishes a gun and waves it at the stage. The incident is captured on film, featured in filmmakers Albert and David Maysles’ documentary “Gimme Shelter”, released the following year. The incident signals the beginning of the end of the counterculture movement in the US, which peaked with the Woodstock festival just a few months before.
On this day in music history: December 6, 1968 – “Beggars Banquet”, the seventh album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Jimmy Miller, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from March 17 – July 25, 1968. The album marks the bands’ return to its R&B roots following the psychedelic influenced “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. The album is not without controversy. The song “Sympathy For The Devil” raises the ire of religious groups, and the single “Street Fighting Man” whose picture sleeve depicts a student riot is withdrawn from release, resulting in it becoming one of the most valuable and highly sought after Stones collectibles. The recording sessions for “Sympathy” are filmed by director Jean-Luc Godard (“Breathless”), for a film titled “One Plus One (Sympathy For The Devil)” about late 60’s counterculture. The footage of The Stones is inter cut with scenes featuring The Black Panthers, along with political commentary about “the need for revolution” and Marxism. The original album cover photo of a filthy toilet scrawled with graffiti is not issued in the US until the 1980’s, and is replaced with a white cover designed to look like a formal party invitation. It also is the last Rolling Stones album to feature full contributions from founding member Brian Jones, whose health and playing has been adversely affected by drugs and alcohol. The album is remastered and reissued in 2002 as a hybrid SACD in digipak packaging, reverting to a standard redbook CD in a jewel case after the initial pressing is discontinued by ABKCO. It is also reissued on clear vinyl in the US in 2013, making it available in the format for the first time in more than twenty years. The original mono version of the LP, released only in the UK and other foreign territories is remastered and reissued as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on CD and 180 gram vinyl in September of 2016. To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2018, the vinyl LP is issued as a special deluxe ediiton. It contains the original stereo mix, along with a single sided 12" single, with the mono mix of “Sympathy For The Devil” (with etching on the reverse side). It also comes with a plastic flexi-disc, featuring an interview with Mick Jagger recorded in April of 1968, and an mp3 download card of the audio contents. The set comes packaged in a outer sleeve using the US LP cover art, with the original UK “toilet graffiti” gatefold cover on the inside. “Beggar’s Banquet” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 5, 1969 – “Let It Bleed”, the eighth UK (tenth US) album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Jimmy Miller, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London and Elektra Studios in Los Angeles, CA from November 1968, February – November 1969. After the success of “Beggar’s Banquet”, The Rolling Stones begin work on the follow up. The first track recorded is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, first surfacing as the B-side of “Honky Tonk Women” in July of 1969. After a brief break, the sessions continue in February of 1969. With Brian Jones sidelined by drugs and alcohol, he only plays on “You Got The Silver” and “Midnight Rambler” before he is fired. His replacement is Mick Taylor, who becomes a major asset to the band. Originally scheduled for a Summer release, numerous delays result in the album not being completed until later in the year. While recording in L.A., Mick and Keith decide that the song “Gimme Shelter” requires a little something extra. Background vocalist Merry Clayton is brought into the studio. Very pregnant at the time, she arrives in her nightgown, hair in rollers in a scarf and wearing a fur coat. Clayton records her highly memorable vocals in just a couple of takes. “Bleed” also features appearances by Ry Cooder, Nicky Hopkins, Al Kooper, Doris Troy, Madeline Bell, Leon Russell and Bobby Keys, the latter of whom becomes a sideman for The Stones for the next forty years. The albums’ iconic cover is designed by artist Robert Brownjohn, and features a photo of the LP being played with a vintage phonograph tone arm, with numerous items including a cake with figurines of the band stacked on top of a turntable spindle. The back cover reveals the aftermath, with the record is being smashed and the other items in disarray. Original LP’s come with a poster and an insert for The Stones fan club. No singles issued are from it in the US, though several become rock radio staples, and is widely regarded as one of their best albums. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 as a hybrid SACD, then as a standard redbook CD. The vinyl LP is reissued in 2013, with a high resolution Blu-Ray disc released in 2014. The mono version of the album, released only in the UK and other foreign territories, is remastered and reissued as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on CD and 180 gram vinyl in September of 2016. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, it’s released as a Super Deluxe edition on November 15, 2019. The set includes the stereo and mono versions on hybrid SACD’s and vinyl LP’s, an 80 page hardcover book, a poster, lithographs, and a reproduction of the US 7" of “Honky Tonk Women”. “Let It Bleed” spends one week at number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 4, 1965 – “December’s Children (And Everybody’s)”, the fifth album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, it is recorded at Regent Sound Studios in London in August 1963, Kingsway Studios in London on June 11, 1964, Manchester Odeon in Manchester, UK and The Liverpool Empire Theater on March 5 – 7, 1965, RCA Victor Studios in Hollywood, CA, Chess Studios in Chicago, IL on September 5 – 6, 1965. The album is a US compilation consisting of new material recorded in September 1965, along with songs first released on the UK version of “Out Of Our Heads” (“She Said Yeah”, “Talkin’ About You”, “I’m Free”, “Gotta Get Away”) and the EP’s “The Rolling Stones” (“You Better Move On”) and “Got Live If You Want It!” (“Route 66”, “I’m Moving On”). It spins off two singles including the recent number one hit “Get Off Of My Cloud” and “As Tears Go By” (#6 Pop), the latter being one of the first songs written by Jagger and Richards. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 as a hybrid SACD, which is then discontinued and replaced by a standard redbook CD release. The original mono version of the album is remastered and reissued as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on 180 gram vinyl and CD in September of 2016. December’s Children (And Everybody’s)“ peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 7, 1983 – “Undercover”, the nineteenth (seventeenth UK) album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by The Glimmer Twins and Chris Kimsey, it is recorded at EMI Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France, Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas and The Hit Factory in New York City from November 11 – 17, 1982, and May – August 1983. Returning to the studio for the first time in over two and a half years, The Rolling Stones begin work on a new album. Tensions arise between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards during the sessions, when they disagree over the musical direction they should take. Jagger wants to reinvent and revamp The Rolling Stones’ sound, while Richards fully sober for the first time in more than a decade (and taking a more active role in leading the band) wants the band to maintain their more traditional rock and blues rooted sound. The resulting “power struggle” between the pair results in a feud between them that lasts much of the decade. The songs reflect this tension, with the music featuring very contrasting styles, countered by some of the darkest lyrics ever written by Jagger. The Stones are joined in the studio by a number of guest musicians including David Sanborn (saxophone), Chuck Leavell (of The Allman Brothers Band) (keyboards), Sly Dunbar, Martin Ditcham and Moustapha Cisse (percussion). Public and critical reaction to the finished album is somewhat mixed upon its release. It breaks the bands’ streak of chart eight consecutive chart topping albums in the US, becoming The Stones’ first since “Let It Bleed” not to hit number one. Though in time, it is re-evaluated more favorably for its break from their tried and true formula. The album sleeve art is designed by long time Rolling Stones art director Peter Corriston. The front features an image of a nude woman, with peel off stickers strategically placed to cover her body. When the stickers are removed, they reveal other images shaped like the stickers. The exception is the sticker on the back cover, featuring the iconic tongue and lips logo, partially covering the woman’s posterior. First run vinyl copies also come packaged with a custom inner sleeve, and a mail in insert to join The Rolling Stones’ fan club. It spins off two singles including “Undercover Of The Night” (#9 Pop, #2 Mainstream Rock) and “She Was Hot” (#44 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock). The original cassette edition of the Keith Richards sung “Wanna Hold You”, features a slightly longer and different edit of the track, from the one on the vinyl LP. This version is subsequently used for later CD issues of the album. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 1994. It is reissued again 2009, and is also remastered and reissued as an SACD SHM-CD by Universal Japan in 2014. Briefly reissued on vinyl in 2010 as part of the box set “The Rolling Stones – 1971 – 2005”, it is remastered and reissued again as part of the new compilation “The Rolling Stones – Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016” in June of 2018. “Undercover” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 6, 1965 – “Get Off Of My Cloud” by The Rolling Stones hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it is the second US chart topper for the legendary rock band. First signing with Decca Records in the UK in 1963, the band are naive about the business end of the music industry, having signed a contract that pays them a very low royalty rate in spite of having sold several million records in a short period of time. After the huge worldwide success of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, The Rolling Stones seek a much better deal with the label. The deal is brokered by a savvy New York accountant named Allen Klein, then known for having managed major stars including Sam Cooke and Bobby Darin. Though the deal reportedly gives them the best royalty rate of the day (even surpassing the contract The Beatles have with EMI), by 1971 they lose the rights to their masters and publishing to Klein’s company ABKCO Music in order to break their contract with him. “Cloud” is The Stones’ first release under their newly renegotiated contract with Decca. Written while the band are in Los Angeles in the Fall of 1965, “Get Off Of My Cloud” is recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, CA on September 6-7, 1965. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on October 9, 1965, it poles vault to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Initially issued as a stand alone single, the song appears on the US compiled album “December’s Children (And Everybody’s)” in December of 1965.
On this day in music history: October 17, 1964 – “12 x 5”, the second US album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, it is recorded at Regent Sound Studios in London and Chess Studios in Chicago, IL from February 25, May 12, June 10 – 11, 24 – 26 and September 28 – 29, 1964. The album includes the first songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (under the pseudonym “Nanker Phelge”), after manager Andrew Oldham tells them that if they want to build on their success, that they have to come with original material. Oldham literally locks the pair up in a kitchen and tells them that they can’t come out until they’ve written a song. While on their first trip to the US in the Summer of 1964, the band records several tracks at Chess Records studio in Chicago. The five songs the band records in the US are released in the UK as an EP titled “5 x 5”. The Stones US record label London takes those songs and expands it to a full LP with the singles “It’s All Over Now” (#26 Pop), and “Time Is On My Side” (#6 Pop), along with their respective B-sides and three other songs that are included on their second UK album “Rolling Stones No. 2”. When the album is remastered and reissued in 2002, it includes the full unedited version of the instrumental “2120 South Michigan Avenue”. It is also remastered and reissued on LP in 2014 pressed on clear vinyl, with the original mono version being re-released as part of the “Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on September 30, 2016. “12 x 5” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 29, 1989 – “Steel Wheels”, the nineteenth album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Chris Kimsey and The Glimmer Twins, it is recorded at AIR Studios in Montserrat from March 29 – May 5, 1989, May 15 – June 29, 1989. It is the bands first album of new material in over three years, following a period where Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are at a low point in their working and personal relationship in part due to Jagger’s embarking on a solo career. Recording on the West Indies island of Montserrat sees the band working in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, which allow them to be very focused and productive. The band complete the recording sessions just in three months, mixing the album at The Hit Factory in New York City and Olympic Studios in London. Sadly, “Steel Wheels” is one of the last major albums recorded at AIR Montserrat. In September of 1989, Hurricane Hugo hits the island, doing major damage to the studio, and forcing it to close indefinitely. After receiving largely mixed notices for their two previous studio albums “Undercover” and “Dirty Work”, “Steel Wheels” is their best received album in nearly a decade. It spins off three singles including “Mixed Emotions” (#5 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock) and “Rock In A Hard Place” (#23 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock). The album is also supported by the ambitious “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” world tour, which is The Stones first major tour in seven years. The album is also the last for original bassist Bill Wyman, who officially leaves the band in 1993 before the Stones record their next studio album “Voodoo Lounge”. The album is remastered and reissued in 1994, when The Rolling Stones end their association with CBS Records and sign with Virgin Records. It is remastered and reissued again in 2009 when The Stones’ catalog is licensed to Universal Music Group. Out of print on vinyl since its original release in 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2010. The vinyl is remastered and reissued again in July of 2018, as part of the box set “The Rolling Stones: Vinyl Album Collection 1971 – 2016”. “Steel Wheels” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 24, 1981 – “Tattoo You”, the eighteenth US (sixteenth UK album) by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by The Glimmer Twins (aka Mick Jagger & Keith Richards), it is recorded at Dynamic Sound Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, De Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam, NL with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, Musicland Studios in Munich, West Germany, EMI Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France, and Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas from November – December 1972, February – March 1975, January – March 1978, January – October 1979 and October 1980 – June 1981. Not having toured in nearly three years, The Rolling Stones decide to embark on their first major world tour since the release of “Some Girls in 1978, planning to kick it off in the Fall of 1981. They also want to issue a new album in tandem with this tour. However, since the Stones have not written any new material since their previous album "Emotional Rescue” in 1980, the band have their engineer and co-producer Chris Kimsey go their tape archives to see if there is any suitable unreleased material that can be used for the new album. Kimsey discovers a wealth of excellent tracks, some dating as far back the sessions for “Goats Head Soup” in 1972. The rest come from songs left over from the “Black And Blue”, Some Girls" and “Emotional Rescue” recording sessions. The albums first single “Start Me Up” (#2 Pop), originates from the “Some Girls” recording sessions in early 1978. The song is originally conceived with a reggae feel, but the final released take has a straight ahead rock arrangement. When “Tattoo You” is released, it is very warmly received by fans and critics alike. The albums iconic cover art designed by longtime Stones graphic artist Peter Corriston features images (taken from photographs by Hubert Kretzschmar and illustrated by Christian Piper) of Mick Jagger on the front cover and Keith Richards on the back with elaborately detailed tattoo designs on their faces. The album cover art wins Corriston a Grammy Award for Best Album Package in 1982. The album spins off three singles including “Hang Fire” (#20 Pop) and “Waiting On A Friend” (#13 Pop). Remastered and reissued numerous times over the years, it is most recently reissued on CD in 2009. In and out of print on vinyl, it is most recently reissued as a 180 grm LP in 2018 as part of the box set, “The Rolling Stones – Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016”. “Tattoo You” spends nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 23, 1969 – “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it is the fifth chart topping single for the legendary London based rock band dubbed “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band”. The song is inspired while Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are on vacation in Brazil from late 1968 to early 1969. The two of them see Brazilian gauchos (cowboys) on a ranch Matão, São Paulo when they begin forming ideas for the song. Initially it is recorded with the title “Country Tonk” in February of 1969 during sessions for their next album “Let It Bleed”. Eventually, Mick and Keith re-tool the central riff of the piece as well as writing a risque lyric about a dancing girl (aka “prostitute”) in a western bar. The final version of “Honky Tonk Women” is recorded in June of 1969 at Olympic Studios in London with new guitarist Mick Taylor, having recently replaced Brian Jones in the band. Ironically, the single is released in the UK one day after Jones’ untimely death on July 4, 1969 (US release date is on July 11, 1969). The band perform the song publicly for the first time at a free live concert at Hyde Park in London on July 5, 1969 which is dedicated to Jones’ memory. “Honky Tonk Women” is an immediate smash upon its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on July 19, 1969, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. Initially released as a stand alone single, the song makes its LP debut on The Stones’ second greatest hits compilation “Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)” in September of 1969. Appearing on the B-side of the single is the ethereal and highly memorable “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (#42 Pop) which is also included on “Let It Bleed” when it is released in early December of 1969. “Honky Tonk Women” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.