Continuing with The Rolling Stones history….we find them entering a period from 1968 to 1972….a time when the group started to turn form the “drug culture psychedelic” period….as the band spent the first few months of 1968 finishing off a solo of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”….which was the last of that genre of their rock history….as they then started working on material for their next album, Beggars Banquet (UK # 3 and US # 5)….which was an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes….as this marked the band’s return to their roots….and the beginning of their collaboration with producer Jimmy Miller….which featured the lead single “Street Fighting Man”….which addressed the political upheavals of May 1968…. and then the awesome solo, “Sympathy for the Devil”.
Beggars Banquet was delayed for nearly six months due to controversy over the design of the album cover….which featured a public toilet with graffiti covering the walls of the stall….as the album was well received at the time of release….when Richards said, “There is a change between material on Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet. I’d grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit and the beads and bells. Who knows where these things come from, but I guess [the music] was a reaction to what we’d done in our time off and also that severe dose of reality. A spell in prison … will certainly give you room for thought … I was fucking pissed with being busted. So it was, ‘Right we’ll go and strip this thing down.’ There’s a lot of anger in the music from that period.”
The end of 1968 saw the filming of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus….which originally started as an idea about “the new shape of the rock-and-roll concert tour”…..which featured John Lennon, Yoko Ono, the Dirty Mac, the Who, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull, and Taj Mahal. The footage was shelved for twenty-eight years but was finally released officially in 1996….along with a DVD version that was released in October 2004.
By the release of Beggars Banquet, Brian Jones was only sporadically contributing to the band….when Jagger said that Jones was “not psychologically suited to this way of life”….as his drug use had become a hindrance…plus he was unable to obtain a US visa….when Richards reported that in a June meeting with Jagger, Richards, and Watts at Jones’ house….Jones admitted that he was unable to “go on the road again”….and left the band, saying, “I’ve left, and if I want to I can come back”. On 3 July 1969, less than a month later, Jones drowned in the swimming pool under mysterious circumstances at his home in East Sussex.
The Rolling Stones were scheduled to play at a free concert for Blackhill Enterprises in London’s Hyde Park two days after Jones’ death….and they decided to proceed with the show as a tribute to him. The concert, their first with new guitarist Mick Taylor, was performed in front of an estimated 250,000 fans….as the performance was filmed by a Granada Television production team….and was shown on British television as The Stones in the Park.
The Blackhill Enterprises stage manager Sam Cutler introduced the Rolling Stones on to the stage by announcing: “Let’s welcome the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.” Cutler repeated the description throughout their 1969 US tour. Jagger read an excerpt from Shelley’s poem Adonaïs….an elegy written on the death of his friend John Keats….and they released thousands of butterflies in memory of Jones before opening their set with “I’m Yours and I’m Hers”….which was written by Johnny Winter….and in addition to that….they performed previously unheard by the audience songs of “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain” from their forthcoming album Let It Bleed (released December 1969)….and “Give Me A Drink”….which eventually appeared on Exile on Main St. (released May 1972). The show also included the concert debut of “Honky Tonk Women”….which the band had just released the previous day.
So, from 1968 to 1972, The Rolling Stones returned to their roots of classic rock and rhythm + blues….as they lost Brian Jones and gained Mick Taylor….which led into this 1977 live performance on Saturday Night Live.