The Rolling Stones have been cranking out fantastic rock n roll music since 1962…..and they are still at it today in 2018….and folks, that is 56 years of gracing stages all over the world to bring their special brand of rock music…..cuz the truth be known…..they probably all do more rocking in a chair than they do on stage today.
The absolute height of The Stones fame over the years was established during a two year period from 1965 to 1967….as the band’s second UK LP, The Rolling Stones No. 2, was released in January 1965 and reached # 1 in the charts. The US version was released in February as The Rolling Stones, Now!….and it reached # 5…..after the album was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles. In January and February that year the band played 34 shows for around 100,000 people in Australia and New Zealand. The single “The Last Time”, released in February, was the first Jagger/Richards composition to reach # 1 in the UK charts….while it reached # 9 in the US. It was later identified by Richards as “the bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it.”
Their first international # 1 hit was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, recorded in May 1965 during the band’s third North American tour….when Richards recorded the guitar riff that drives the song with a fuzzbox…. while planning to be a scratch track to guide a horn section…..which nevertheless, the final cut was without the planned horn overdubs. Issued in the summer of 1965, it was their fourth UK # 1….as well as first in the US where it spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100….thus establishing worldwide commercial success for the band. The US version of the LP Out of Our Heads, released in July 1965, also went to # 1….which included seven original songs…..three that were Jagger/Richards numbers….and four credited to Nanker Phelge. Their second international # 1 single, “Get Off of My Cloud” was released in the autumn of 1965….and this was followed by another US-only LP, December’s Children.
The album Aftermath, released in the late spring of 1966….was the first LP to be composed entirely of Jagger/Richards songs….which reached # 1 in the UK and # 2 in the US…..when on this album Jones’ contributions expanded beyond guitar and harmonica….then came the Middle Eastern-influenced “Paint It, Black”….he added the sitar to the ballad “Lady Jane” …. then he added the dulcimer to “Under My Thumb”….to which he also added the marimbas. Aftermath also contained “Goin’ Home”, a nearly 12-minute-long song that included elements of jamming and improvisation.
The Stones’ success on the British and American singles charts peaked during the 1960’s….when“19th Nervous Breakdown” was released in February 1966….reaching # 2 in the UK and US charts….then came“Paint It, Black” which reached # 1 in the UK and US in May 1966…..as“Mother’s Little Helper”, released in June 1966, reached # 8 in the US….after being one of the first pop songs to address the issue of prescription drug abuse. In September 1966, “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” was released and reached # 5 in the UK and # 9 in the US…..as It had a number of firsts for the group….for it was the first Stones recording to feature brass horns….and the back-cover photo on the original US picture sleeve depicted the group satirically dressed in drag….while the song was accompanied by one of the first official music videos….which was directed by Peter Whitehead.
January 1967 saw the release of Between the Buttons (UK # 3 and US # 2)….as this album was Andrew Oldham’s last venture as the Rolling Stones’ producer….when his role as the band’s manager was taken over by Allen Klein to “get [them] out of the original English scene”….and due to Oldham’s fear of being arrested after the 12 February drug bust in Sussex. The US version included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”….which went to # 1 in the US and # 3 in the UK. When the band went to New York to perform these songs on The Ed Sullivan Show….they were ordered to change the lyrics of the refrain to “let’s spend some time together”.
In early 1967, Jagger, Richards and Jones began to be hounded by authorities over their recreational drug use….and after News of the World ran a three-part feature entitled “Pop Stars and Drugs: Facts That Will Shock You”….where the series described alleged LSD parties hosted by the Moody Blues and attended by top stars including the Who’s Pete Townshend and Cream’s Ginger Baker….and alleged admissions of drug use by leading pop musicians. The first article targeted Donovan….who was raided and charged soon after….and with the second published report coming on 5 February which targeted the Rolling Stones….after a reporter who contributed to the story spent an evening at the exclusive London club Blaise’s….where a member of the Rolling Stones allegedly took several Benzedrine tablets, displayed a piece of hashish and invited his companions back to his flat for a “smoke”. The article claimed that this was Mick Jagger, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity….as the reporter had in fact been eavesdropping on Brian Jones. On the night the article was published Jagger appeared on the Eamonn Andrews chat show and announced that he was filing a writ for libel against the News of the World.
A week later on 12 February, Sussex police, tipped off by the paper, who in turn were tipped off by Richards’ chauffeur, raided a party at Keith Richards’ home, Redlands. No arrests were made at the time but Jagger, Richards and their friend art dealer Robert Fraser were subsequently charged with drug offenses. Richards said in 2003, “When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realize that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped. Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted.” On the treatment of the man responsible for the raid he later added….“As I heard it, he never walked the same again.”
In March 1967, while awaiting the consequences of the police raid….Jagger, Richards and Jones took a short trip to Morocco….and were accompanied by Marianne Faithfull, Jones’ girlfriend Anita Pallenberg and other friends. During this trip the stormy relations between Jones and Pallenberg deteriorated to the point that Pallenberg left Morocco with Richards…..who was to later say, “That was the final nail in the coffin with me and Brian. He’d never forgive me for that and I don’t blame him, but hell, shit happens.”….as Richards and Pallenberg would remain a couple for twelve years. Despite these complications, the Rolling Stones toured Europe in March and April 1967….as the tour included the band’s first performances in Poland, Greece, and Italy.
On May 10, 1967, the day Jagger, Richards and Fraser were arraigned in connection with the Redlands charges….Jones’ house was raided by police and he was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis….as three out of five Stones now faced drug charges….when Jagger and Richards were tried at the end of June….with Jagger receiving a three-month prison sentence for the possession of four amphetamine tablets….while Richards was found guilty of allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property and sentenced to a year in prison…..as both Jagger and Richards were imprisoned at that point, but were released on bail the next day pending appeal. The Times ran the famous editorial entitled “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” in which conservative editor William Rees-Mogg surprised his readers by his unusually critical discourse on the sentencing, pointing out that Jagger had been treated far more harshly for a minor first offense than “any purely anonymous young man”. While awaiting the appeal hearings, the band recorded a new single, “We Love You”, as a thank-you for the loyalty shown by their fans. It began with the sound of prison doors closing, and the accompanying music video included allusions to the trial of Oscar Wilde….and on July 31, the appeals court overturned Richards’ conviction, and Jagger’s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge. Jones’ trial took place in November 1967….when in December, after appealing the original prison sentence, Jones received a £1,000 fine and was put on three years’ probation….with an order to seek professional help.
The band released Their Satanic Majesties Request (UK # 3 and US # 2) in December 1967….but the album drew unfavorable reviews and was widely regarded as a poor imitation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Satanic Majesties was recorded while Jagger, Richards and Jones were awaiting with their court cases and the band parted ways with Oldham during the sessions. The split was publicly amicable, but in 2003 Jagger said “The reason Andrew left was because he thought that we weren’t concentrating and that we were being childish. It was not a great moment really – and I would have thought it wasn’t a great moment for Andrew either. There were a lot of distractions and you always need someone to focus you at that point, that was Andrew’s job.” Satanic Majesties thus became the first album the Rolling Stones produced on their own….which with Its psychedelic sound was complemented by the cover art….which featured a 3D photo by Michael Cooper….who had also photographed the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Bill Wyman wrote and sang a track on the album titled “In Another Land”….which also was released as a single….and the first on which Jagger did not sing lead.
Any way you cut the pie….the years of 1965, 1966 and 1967 were the years in which The Rolling Stones reached their height of fame in their long illustrious career.