One of The Rolling Stones first big hits was the fast and furious cover of Chuck Berry’s rocker ‘Come On’. It came in at under two minutes in length and pitched the Stones alongside the biggest act of the moment, The Beatles.
Unlike the Fab Four, the Stones had begun their career as avid devourers of rhythm and blues. It’s what they listened to at home and what they performed in the smoky London clubs. But it took their cover of Berry, and perhaps their emulation of the Beatles, to get them their first break on UK TV, performing on Thank Your Lucky Stars.
At the time, Thank Your Lucky Stars was one of the most important music shows on television. With a captive audience, the show was able to pull in incredible numbers and could launch a band’s career. The Rolling Stones arrive don the launchpad on July 7th, 1963, ready to fly off into the stratosphere.
The show originally appeared as a rival to the BBC’s British television series Juke Box Jury in 1961 and quickly gained a reputation for harbouring some of Britain’s best talent. It was a fairly routine show, a mimed performance in an elaborate staging and it offered a lot of bands the chance to perform for a giant audience.
Before the Stones could reach the studios though, their manager Andrew Loog-Oldham noticed one thing that would have to be fixed; what they were wearing. “If they’d dressed the way they wanted, they wouldn’t have been allowed inside the TV Studios,” he recalled. “They were asked to wear ‘uniforms’ of some description.”
With the promise of air time ahead of them, Oldham did what any manager would do in the sixties and carted the band down to Carnaby Street and grabbed them so worthwhile clobber. Dogtooth jackets and knitted ties acquired the group made their way to the studios ready to be received.
On the show alongside the band was guest DJ, Jimmy Henney, along with the singers, Helen Shapiro, Mickie Most, Johnny Cymbal, Patsy Ann Noble as well as two other groups, The Cadets and The Viscounts.
Sadly, thanks to the unique way TV stations did their business during the sixties, the tape of this performance has been recorded over and seemingly lost forever. While these things often work back out in the end, for now, we must listen to this recording of the track to keep us sated.
The song ‘Come On’, would eventually break into the charts a few weeks after the band’s appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars and their journey as Rolling Stones began in earnest.