Rare clip of The Rolling Stones performing ‘It’s Only Rock & Roll’
Given the current health crisis, the idea of live music remains a socially distanced memory. To fill the void, we’re stepping back into the archives to revisit an iconic moment in the history of The Rolling Stones.
In 1975, as the Rolling Stones worked their way through a transitional period, the band welcomed Ronnie Wood into the line-up after he replaced Mick Taylor. When heading back out on the road, a number of performances in Los Angeles would amount in what many consider to be some of the most intense and inspired live shows in their long history.
While Mick Jagger’s desire to slur his lyrics during this particular period irked some of their diehard supporters, the band arrived in L.A. with a desire to deliver their greatest performances, taking the opportunity to stamp their authority on the city immensely serious. Recording the entire show, the Stones would later release L.A. Friday (Live 1975) as a mammoth live album which ran for two-and-a-half hours.
One particular highlight of the collection, however, would come exactly halfway through the performance when the now-veteran rockers ran through a rendition of 1974 track ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)’. Taken from the band’s 12th British album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, the track was originally recorded one night in a studio at Wood’s house and, remarkably, featured the great David Bowie on backing vocals.
“The idea of the song has to do with our public persona at the time,” frontman Jagger once commented on the track. “I was getting a bit tired of people having a go, all that, ‘oh, it’s not as good as their last one’ business. The single sleeve had a picture of me with a pen digging into me as if it were a sword. It was a lighthearted, anti-journalistic sort of thing.”
Adding: “That song is a classic. The title alone is a classic and that’s the whole thing about it.”