The Rolling Stones have hardly set a foot wrong since their formation in 1963. Some fans would argue that there isn’t one misstep over the entirety of their career. However, Mick Jagger is spectacularly unfavourable towards one album, in particular, from their repertoire. The album in question, Their Satanic Majesties Request, is the least Rolling Stones-sounding record that they have ever made.
The psychedelic and experimental album saw The Stones wave goodbye to the bluesy brand of rock ‘n’ roll they had made their own in favour of dipping their toes into trippy, acid fuelled waters. Many fans still view the record as an utter masterpiece that shows their impressive versatility and proves that they were a multi-faceted beast.
However, Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995 that the record wasn’t an epiphanic creative endeavour that they felt compelled to go after, and instead, was their bizarre way of pushing out their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. Critics accused the album of ripping off The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s and to a degree, that was right but only because they knew Oldham hated that brand of music and that sealed the deal.
“The whole thing, we were on acid,” Jagger recalled to the publication. “We were on acid doing the cover picture. I always remember doing that. It was like being at school, you know, sticking on the bits of coloured paper and things. It was really silly. But we enjoyed it. Also, we did it to piss Andrew off, because he was such a pain in the neck.”
Jagger then added: “Because he didn’t understand it. The more we wanted to unload him, we decided to go on this path to alienate him.”
The personal issues between Oldham and The Stones had reached boiling point by 1967. Oldham was just as consumed by drugs as the Stones, and the two parties drifted beyond repair. Although Oldham played a significant part in establishing them as greats, their relationship was no longer viable. Him despising the sound of Satanic Majesties was the fuel they needed to go ahead with the record. Well, that and perhaps more importantly — acid.
“I probably started to take too many drugs,” Jagger admitted about the record. “Well, it’s not very good. It had interesting things on it, but I don’t think any of the songs are very good. It’s a bit like Between the Buttons. It’s a sound experience, really, rather than a song experience. There’s two good songs on it: ‘She’s a Rainbow’, which we didn’t do on the last tour, although we almost did, and ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, which we did do. The rest of them are nonsense.”
He continued: “I think we were just taking too much acid. We were just getting carried away, just thinking anything you did was fun and everyone should listen to it.”
It’s not just Jagger who isn’t a fan of the record now that the acid has worn off, Keith Richards also looks back at the album without much fondness. In an interview with Esquire in 2015, the guitarist spoke about the famous comparison between the album and Sgt. Pepper’s, which it’s safe to say he holds equal disdain towards.
Richards noted: “If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties—’Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.'”
Even if The Rolling Stones collectively despise Satanic Majesties, that doesn’t mean it still wouldn’t be the album that most bands would kill to have in their repository. Even if it’s not The Stones’ finest hour, the album, more importantly, signifies a pivotal moment in their career when drugs took over and the process in which the record was born out of was undoubtedly the most chaotic in their history. It’s a miracle that they survived this period of mayhem, let alone come out of it with a record like Satanic Majesties in tow.