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Trivia / The Rolling Stones (Band)

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  • Banned in China: When they played China as part of a world tour, they were specifically told by the government some of their songs were forbidden, such as "Brown Sugar", which was about an interracial sexual hook-up.
  • Black Sheep Hit: "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a rare example of a Stones song that was never released on any albums outside of Greatest Hits Albums, and was instead relegated to being released as a standalone single. Despite this, it managed to become one of the Stones' best-selling songs of all time, to the point that it's the song most played at concerts on record.
  • Breakthrough Hit: "I Wanna Be Your Man" was their big breakthrough in the UK. In America, it was "Tell Me".
  • Bury Your Art: The band recorded the non-album track "Cocksucker Blues" as both an Ashcan Copy and a Contractual Obligation Project, wanting to complete their contract with Decca Records sooner while also never intending to give the song a public release. The track surfaced anyway on the German Boxed Set The Best of the Rest due to an oversight, which resulted in the set being recalled and reissued without the song.
  • Career Resurrection: They had two:
    • The band were music royalty by the end of The '60s, maintaining their greatest critical and mainstream success into the early 70s. However: more or less by the mid-70s, their chart success seemed to be drying up, despite continued critical and audience praise alike. Then, in 1978, the number-one disco-influenced "Miss You", the lead-off single to the equally-successful Some Girls became their biggest hit since "Angie" in 1973. Afterwards, signs of creative differences between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards erupted, especially after guitarist Richards voiced disapproval of the disco-influence in the title track to 1980's Emotional Rescue. The follow-up Tattoo You, their final U.S. number-one album, also containing their final U.S. top 3 hit "Start Me Up" has been opined very highly by hardcore fans as their last even decent album.
    • THEN, things began to go downhill big time with its follow-ups Undercover and especially 1986's Dirty Work. Both albums were released to mixed and divisive reception, and "Dirty Work", while producing a top-5 novelty with a cover of Bob & Earl's "Harlem Shuffle", was recorded during a bitter strain in the Jagger/Richards partnership, with Richards disapproving so highly of Jagger's focus on solo efforts coupled with his refusal to tour with the Stones that the strain nearly led to their breakup. Three years later, in early 1989, Jagger and Richards finally buried the hatchet, quickly reuniting the band to record a new album, Steel Wheels, which debuted at #3 and produced both a successful tour and the band's final major U.S. hit in "Mixed Emotions". Better yet: that same year, the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they have continued to record and perform to the present day, past their 50-year mark, releasing their first full studio album in over ten years, Blue and Lonesome, in late 2016.
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: They never actually went away.
  • Chart Displacement: The band had eight #1 singles (including their signature "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and other classics like "Brown Sugar" and "Paint It Black"). This total, however, does not include "Gimme Shelter" (not a single), "Sympathy for the Devil" (not a single either, although Fatboy Slim's 2003 remix hit #97), "Start Me Up" (#2, though it was their biggest #1 on Mainstream Rock), "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (#3), "Wild Horses" (#28), or "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (#42).
  • Creator Backlash: Dirty Work is a bit of a sore spot for the band, as it was recorded at the peak of turmoil between Jagger and Richards. Ever since the albums release, the only track that's been played live is "Harlem Shuffle" (Their biggest hit from the album), and even then just on rare occasions.
  • Executive Meddling: Many examples:
    • The Oldham-Stewart issue
    • The alteration of the title of "Star Star". It was originally called "Starfucker", but their record label forced them to retitle it.
    • The Stones' use of drugs forced them to break away from Oldham, and Brian Jones left when it became clear that he couldn't escape drug addiction.
    • Prior to one of their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, network executives forced the Stones to Bowdlerise "Let's Spend the Night Together"; as a result, the lyrics were changed to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" for the broadcast.
    • The early-'70s Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks compilations were released without the band's involvement, as they had left ABKCO and Decca for their own Rolling Stones Records label by then.
  • Exiled from Continuity: In October 2021, the song "Brown Sugar" was dropped from the band's concert setlist due to its controversial lyrics about slavery and rape, although both Jagger and Richards have expressed hope to bring it back in the future.
  • Fatal Method Acting: They've had some near misses:
    • While performing "The Last Time" at a concert in Sacramento, California in December 1965, Keith Richards noticed his microphone was pointing away from him, so to knock it in the right direction he smashed his guitar against the mic stand— which turned out to be ungrounded, giving him an electric shock which rendered him unconscious for seven minutes. Luckily Bill Wyman rushed to his aid in time to get the guitar away from his body (the shock had melted away three of its strings).
    • Mick Jagger was assaulted by a drugged-up audience member during a performance at the Altamont Free Concert in December 1969; the would-be murderer was fatally stabbed by event security—the Hells Angels—before he had a chance to do anything except point a gun at the stage. The incident is captured in the documentary film Gimme Shelter.
    • In December 1981, the Stones were in the middle of "Satisfaction" when Keith spotted a lone fan climbing on stage and making a dash for Mick. With John Lennon's murder a year earlier still on everyone's mind, Keith calmly turned down the volume on his guitar, bashed the guy over the head with it, strapped the guitar back on, turned the volume up and continued playing without missing a beat. Then he went down to the police station and bailed the guy out.
  • Genre Popularizer: What the Beatles did for pop-rock, the Stones did for blues-based rock.
  • In Memoriam:
    • During the Stones' 1969 Hyde Park concert, held two days after Brian Jones's death, Mick Jagger eulogized him by reading portions of Percy Shelley's 1821 poem "Adonais" note  aloud.
    • invoked The 1969 Stones compilation Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) is dedicated to Jones, and the sleeve notes include an epitaph he'd composed for himself.
      When this you see, remember me
      And bear me in your mind
      Let all the world say what they may
      Speak of me as you find
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • Cocksucker Blues, the infamous documentary about the 1972 Exile On Main Street album tour (featuring lots of language, sex, and general mayhem). The band sued over the content of the film, and so it can't be shown in public without the director being present. (The director does hold frequent screenings.) This hasn't stopped it from being a mainstay on the bootlegging scene for many years. Ten minutes of excerpts from Cocksucker Blues eventually found their way into 2010's Stones In Exile, but obviously it isn't anywhere near the same experience.
    • Forty Licks, their comprehensive Greatest Hits Album, has been out of print since 2008 due to rights issues. Though a more comprehensive one, GRRR! came out in 2012, and even included one of the four new songs from Forty Licks.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: According to Richards' autobiography, Jagger looked at Exile on Main St. as just another album. It also took awhile for its reputation to build.
  • Old Shame: While still circulated, Their Satanic Majesties Request is often considered this. Mick Jagger does like two of the songs from the albums, "2000 Light Years From Home" and especially "She's a Rainbow" (which appeared in various compilations).
  • The Pete Best: Ian Stewart, although he still toured and recorded with the band as a session musician and roadie after being forcibly removed from the official line-up.
  • Promoted Fanboy: A then-teenaged Ron Wood saw the Stones' early club gigs and became a huge fan, even fantasizing about becoming a member. A little over a decade later, he joined them for real.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Brian Jones was fired from the band as due to many drug-related arrests he couldn't get a visa for an US tour. Less than one month later Jones died under mysterious circumstances.
  • Short-Lived, Big Impact: Brian Jones founded The Rolling Stones, who were the main influences of bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc, who pioneered the Heavy Metal genre. He also was dead by age 27.
  • Trope Namers: Sympathy for the Devil is named after the song, and Man of Wealth and Taste comes from the second line. Paint It Black is also named after the song, although it is otherwise unrelated. (Ironically, the song "Sympathy for the Devil" is a subversion of the trope it named.)
  • Troubled Production:
    • The beloved double album Exile on Main St. did not come easy. Setting a trend that was ill-advisedly followed by many bands in the 1970s, the Stones left the UK in 1971 for tax reasons and settled in France. Most of the Exile backing tracks were recorded in the basement of Keith Richards' villa at Nellcôte, a poorly-ventilated environment where the humidity would cause the guitars to go out of tune. Recording took place all night but none of the Stones ever showed up all at the same time — Bill Wyman sat out most of the sessions, Mick Jagger was frequently AWOL, and Richards was just getting started on his infamous substance abuse. He was joined in said substance abuse by Mick Taylor, saxophonist Bobby Keys, producer Jimmy Miller, and engineer Andy Johns. Wyman later claimed in his autobiography that he, Charlie Watts, and Jagger were the only people in the villa who abstained to some degree. The band then took the piecemeal recordings and backing tracks to Los Angeles, where they added overdubs before assembling them into Exile.
    • Black and Blue. Mick Taylor quit the band at almost literally the last minute before they were scheduled to start recording, so the album basically turned into an open casting call for a new guitarist, with some big names like Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott auditioning, though Ronnie Wood of the recently broken up Faces was the clear frontrunner (and was hired permanently after the sessions). After sessions spanning more than a year on both sides of the Atlantic, the album got released to mixed reviews, then was Overshadowed by Controversy over a bondage-themed billboard promoting it.
    • Before starting production on Dirty Work, the Stones signed with CBS Records, not finding out until later that Mick Jagger piggy-backed a deal for three solo records on the contract. Richards and the others were incensed, feeling Mick was betraying them. They also didn't like how chummy he was getting with CBS executives, who all flattered him and felt Mick could be as big as Michael Jackson. Mick was also saving up any songs he'd written for his solo albums, so Richards had to pull together most of the songs for when Mick could be bothered to come in at all. This resulted in tense numbers like "I've Had It With You", "Fight", and "One Hit (To The Body)". That famous story of Charlie Watts punching Mick? That happened during production of this album, so naturally Charlie was at his limit. The fallout left the Stones in the wilderness until Mick's solo career flamed out and they re-united to record Steel Wheels three years later, launching a massively successful world tour afterward.
    • Bridges to Babylon only saw problems emerge when it was time to record in LA, as Keith Richards did not like Mick Jagger's plan to invite outside producers such as the Dust Brothers, whose work on Beck's Odelay had impressed Jagger, and looping expert Danny Saber. Richards hated electronic music and refused to work with either of them. He even threw Saber out of the studio when he found out he was overdubbing guitars. As for The Dust Brothers, they ultimately only worked on three tracks. Most of the album was instead produced by Don Was, who had produced Voodoo Lounge. Midway through production, Was had to keep Jagger and Richards in separate rooms and studios. Richards and his engineer friend had to steal tapes to make sure a track was finished. Charlie Watts only got through the conflict by bonding with famous session percussionist and former Plastic Ono Band member Jim Keltner, with whom he would make a solo record later. Watts ultimately flew out of Los Angeles as soon as he was not needed anymore. By the end of the sessions, none of the Stones were speaking to one another. It was their last album for eight years.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • According to Bill Wyman, the Stones were considering sacking Brian Jones as early as 1965. His possible replacement? Some guy named Jimmy Page.
    • In 1966 there were tentative plans for the Stones to star in (and provide the soundtrack for) a film adaptation of Dave Wallis' dystopian novel Only Lovers Left Alive, with Nicholas Ray slated to direct, but the backers got cold feet and the project was aborted. Prior to that Andrew Loog Oldham had looked into purchasing the film rights to A Clockwork Orange as a possible Stones vehicle.
    • The Stones were asked to play at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, but were unable to get work visas due to Jagger and Richards' drug busts. Brian Jones did attend the festival, however, and even appeared onstage to introduce Jimi Hendrix.
    • They turned down a spot at Woodstock because Jagger was busy working on the film Ned Kelly.
    • After Brian Jones was fired in 1969, the Stones invited Jeff Beck to replace him, but he turned them down. In 1975 they tried again, inviting Beck to what he thought was a one-off guest session but turned out to be a stealth audition to replace Mick Taylor. He turned them down again, later saying that "Keith and I wouldn't have gone through an album without punching each other out anyway."
    • Ry Cooder—then best known for his short stint playing in Captain Beefheart's Magic Band—was also considered to replace Jones, but personal issues between him and Keith Richards kept him from being chosen. Cooder did contribute to the Let It Bleed sessions, though, playing mandolin on the band's cover of "Love in Vain".
    • Also considered as possible replacements for Mick Taylor were Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Steve Marriott, Wayne Perkins, and Harvey Mandel; the latter two both contributed to tracks on Black and Blue along with the band's eventual choice, Ronnie Wood.
    • "Paint It, Black" was intended to be a comedic song. When the original sitar riff didn't work, they replaced it with a much harsher one, which changed the entire tone of the song.
    • Mick Jagger approached French electronica musician Jean-Michel Jarre to provide synth parts on Emotional Rescue, but Jarre turned the offer down.
    • They were offered to perform the title theme of the James Bond film GoldenEye, but they declined.