Revisiting when The Rolling Stones performed ‘Little Red Rooster’ with Tom Waits
Icons don’t come much bigger than The Rolling Stones or Tom Waits and, in this clip that we have just uncovered in the Far Out archives from 2013, the two legendary acts colliding for a performance of ‘Little Red Rooster’ arrives as a welcome source of entertainment during the current lockdown.
Waits’ public appearances are few and far between nowadays so it came as a total surprise to the audience when he joined the Stones onstage in Oakland, California. Delivering the rendition of 1965 bonafide classic, Waits performs the rare fete of stealing the attention away from Mick Jagger which is one hell of an achievement.
The beauty of the performance comes from the seemingly spontaneous nature of it. Waits and Stones guitarist Keith Richards are incredibly close friends and, over the years, have joined forces on a number of occasions—a natural chemistry which allows their rendition of ‘Little Red Rooster’ flow with seamless ease. Waits spoke in great detail in a 2011 interview with NPR about his brotherly bond with Richards saying “there’s nobody in the world like him.”
He then talked about the dynamic that existed between them when they were cooking music up together in the studio and how this was uncharted territory for him: “We wrote songs together for a while and that was fun [but] he doesn’t really remember anything or write anything down. So you play for an hour and he would yell across the room, ‘Scribe!’ And I looked around. ‘Scribe? Who’s the scribe?’ And he’d say it again, now pointing at me.”
Waits, somewhat comically, added: “I was supposed to have written down everything we said and dreamt of and played, and I realized we needed an adult in the room. I’ve never been the one that one would consider the adult. It was an interesting dynamic.”
The duo first joined forces back in the 80s when Richards lent a hand on Waits’ Rain Dogs album which the singer vividly remembers, remarking in the same interview: “[Keith] came down with a semi-truck full of instruments and a musical butler and we played until very late, he played on four or five songs,” Waits says. “We’ve stayed in touch ever since then.”
Check out the footage of Waits becoming an honoury member of The Rolling Stones, below.