There were some demons to expunge from the world of The Rolling Stones in 1969. The most obvious one was Brian Jones, who had left the band in June of that year and subsequently drowned in his pool only a month later. Although his ghost would hang over everything that the Stones did from then on out, the band had quickly employed the then-20-year-old blues guitar prodigy Mick Taylor from John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.
The Stones still had to deal with their ongoing drug issues, failure to organise an American tour, and encroaching tax bills that would send them scrambling away from their home country of England in less than three years’ time. Most importantly, the Stones were a new band, and they needed to prove it as they began recording sessions for 1969’s Let It Bleed.
Featuring a heavy bassline performed by Keith Richards and a salacious set of lyrics from Mick Jagger, ‘Live With Me’ was the first track to feature Taylor on guitar. The song was actually recorded before Taylor was an official member of the band, and it represented the start of stronger distinctions between lead and rhythm guitar than had been present on previous Stones records.
“That was kind of the start of that particular era for the Stones, where Keith and I traded licks,” Taylor later claimed. “He’d sometimes play rhythm, I’d sometimes play rhythm, but on stage, there’d always be quite a lot of lead guitar playing, which I’d do most of.”
As it turned out, Taylor wasn’t the only musician making their debut on a Stones record. Saxophone player Bobby Keys makes his first appearance for the band on ‘Live With Me’, kicking off a long and fruitful collaboration that would last for decades.
“Both the horns and Mick Taylor made their debut on the same album on the same track,” Keys later remembered. “At the time a lot of people overlooked the fact that it wasn’t just Mick joining the band, that was the whole period where the horns joined too.” Keys would later make essential contributions to the Stones, playing the sax solos in ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’.
Check out ‘Live With Me’ down below.