Personalities | The Rolling Stones (1966) | Key Events


‘As Tears Go By’

The Stones’ own version of ‘As Tears Go By’ – the song they wrote as ‘As Time Goes By’ when Andrew Oldham locked them in the kitchen back in 1964 – must have been a shock for an American audience that hadn’t heard Marianne Faithfull’s UK No. 4 release in 1964. Showing a completely different side of the band, it was a very early indicator of the ballad direction the Stones’ singles would take in years to come.


‘19th Nervous Breakdown’

The cynical worldview that the Stones were becoming known for in the mid-1960s continued on ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ (No. 2 UK and US), their third classic single in a row, and one that saw Jagger fix his acerbic lyrics on the type of middle-to-upper class lifestyle – and the kinds of people that live them – that he would target more often in the future.


Australian And European Tours

In February, a 25,000-strong crowd saw the Stones start a tour in Sydney that would last until April, where it ended in Europe. The fervour surrounding the Stones’ shows hadn’t abated, and on Brian’s 24th birthday in New Zealand, the band were caught in a fan riot, with Keith’s face getting cut and Brian’s leg injured when a group of girls rushed the stage. Come the end of this leg, Bill Wyman would boast that he’d slept with 13 girls, one of whom claimed that she’d had his child the year before.


Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)

The group’s first official compilation, Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) came out in the US in March – eight months before the UK version, which would again feature a different tracklisting and sleeve. Comprised of the Stones’ biggest songs from 1964–65, it reached No. 3 in the US and remained in the charts there for two years.


A major artistic breakthrough for the group, Aftermath was the first Stones album to feature only Jagger/Richards compositions and was an early masterpiece, leading the group towards their unbeatable mid-period. By this point, the increasingly troubled Brian had largely given up playing the guitar, but he did contribute, adding extra instrumentation – like dulcimer, sitar and vibraphone – to his bandmates’ songs, which helped make for one of the most textured and important albums of the Stones’ early career. Although its lesser US release was cut from 14 songs to 12, it was pivotal in making Jagger/Richards compositions as important as Lennon/McCartney or Bob Dylan ones in the mid-1960s.


‘Paint It, Black’

Recorded during the pivotal Aftermath sessions, ‘Paint It, Black’ was an instant No. 1 on both sides of the water, though it was also their last for two years. The comma in the title attracted accusations of racism, but really it was a counterpoint to mid-1960s optimism, an existentialist’s crisis and the greatest single the Stones had created up to this...

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