The Rolling Stones performing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ is always a spinetingling moment and, in 1969 when they brought the anthem to the David Frost Show, it was no different.
Their appearance had come at a turbulent time for the band with Brian Jones going through the hells of drug addiction and having just been fired from the group. The performance was filmed on June 16th, just a week following his departure and just a matter of weeks before his untimely death.
Despite releasing the number in 1969 as the B-Side to ‘Honky Tonk Women’, which they also aired on Frost’s show, it wasn’t until their Exile On Main St. tour in ’72 when the track would become a live mainstay and The Stones have barely played a show without it over the last 48 years.
Jones had suffered his fair share of addiction problems during his brief life. It was largely what led to tensions starting to grow between him and the rest of The Rolling Stones. The guitarist was arrested for drug possession on 10 May 1967 with authorities discovering marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine in his flat. He would be arrested again a year later on drug offences. Tensions grew further still as Jones’ behaviour became more erratic and, by 1968, he had alienated himself from his bandmates. Jones played his final show with the band in the December of that year for their Rock N Roll Circus.
Bill Wyman would note in his book Stone Alone: “There were at least two sides to Brian’s personality. One Brian was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking. The other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers. He pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond.”
He was replaced by 20-year-old Mick Taylor, a bonafide genius who they’d picked up from John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers with the guitar prodigy making his first performance with The Stones on the David Frost Show even though it wouldn’t air until after their emotional Hyde Park show following Brian Jones’ death.
“‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs,” Jagger once said on its origin. “It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I’d also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn’t one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, ‘That will be a laugh’.”
With all the turmoil going on with Brian Jones at the time of the performance, the song feels like a perfect summary of The Stones’ period in 1969 which despite being arguably the biggest band in the world — their situation was far from perfect as Jones became a shadow of himself and his death had become somewhat of tragic inevitability.
Check out the spine-tingling performance, below.