In 1966 there was no band as engaging, exciting and, ultimately, entrancing as The Rolling Stones. The Beatles may have been bringing their musical nouse to the fore, creating albums that stood the test of time, but The Rolling Stones, well, they were just pure rock and roll.
The Stones’ fourth record, Aftermath, had ascertained the band as one of the dangerous livewires of the scene and their sitar-drenched single ‘Paint It Black’ had scared the establishment by taking the Number One spot on the charts.
The LP had seen the band take on their new roles as the twinkle in the eye of adolescent lust and laughter and it was enough to gain them worldwide attention and mystique. A perfect combination for a fledgeling rock act. It’s also the perfect cocktail for television.
Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts were in the middle of a gruelling tour when they were given the opportunity to tape a performance for ‘Ready Steady Go!’ in October of 1966. The Rolling Stones duly obliged and arrived at the studio full of vigour, venom and vicious intent as they performed a three-song set capable of turning knitting into rioting.
As you might expect, at the time, The Rolling Stones were ripping up the rulebook. The group were turning the table on the record industry. Whereas before artists would arrive at the music scene, deliver a few hits and disappear back into obscurity, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were creating their own slice of the industry and forging a path for pop music.
It proved to be a fact of both the band’s careers that would see them become the titans of music that they are to this day. A sense of humility leading the bands into grabbing opportunities with both hands but also a sense of direction and purpose that would outweigh the greed of Record Execs.
However, as good as all that intention is, it is very hard to do it without the kind of songs that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones produced. ‘Paint It Black’ remains to this day one of the most sensational rock and roll songs you’ll ever hear. The fact it was released in 1966 is mind-boggling.
“We were in Fiji for about three days,” Keith Richards once explained how the track came together. “They make sitars and all sorts of Indian stuff. Sitars are made out of watermelons or pumpkins or something smashed so they go hard. They’re very brittle and you have to be careful how you handle them. We had the sitars, we thought we’d try them out in the studio. To get the right sound on ‘Paint It Black’ we found the sitar fitted perfectly. We tried a guitar but you can’t bend it enough.”
Written about the death of a lover, the track is imbued with a searing intensity that rings out across the airwaves. Helped by the unconventional tone of the track, the song cemented the Stones’ place in the pop music pantheon. Despite this, it ranks lowly for Jagger in his list of favourite Stones songs, “I don’t know. It’s been done before. It’s not an original thought by any means. It all depends on how you do it.”
We think they did it rather well. Watch the Rolling Stones rip through ‘Paint It Black’ on ‘ready Steady Go!’ from back in 1966 below.