Personalities | The Rolling Stones (1968) | Key Events


‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’

Built upon a nonsensical alliterative chorus – the conclusion of which is that everything’s just ‘a gas’ – ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ heralded the Stones’ masterful middle period, and took them back to the UK No. 1 spot for the first time in two years (it also went to No. 3 in the US). Demonic, voodooistic even, the song soundtracked the riots going on in Paris and was an all-attitude Tasmanian devil descending upon Britain and America, screaming the Stones are back! No finer single could they have recorded to stake a claim on their place as Britain’s foremost rock band.

NME Poll Winners’ Show

In May, the group performed a surprise encore at the NME Poll Winners’ Show at Wembley Arena as a favour to their publicist, Les Perrin. Perrin had helped keep the police away from the band after convincing The Times to write a defensive piece about the Stones’ recent police and drug problems. This feature (‘Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?’) has been praised for single-handedly saving Mick and Keith from further, and serious, jail time. At the NME show, they played just ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Satisfaction’, but it raised the roof, and was to be Brian’s last public live show with the band.



Marking his first solo departure from the band – something which would cause more trouble in the future – Mick began filming alongside Anita Pallenberg for the lead role in the film Performance, a psychodrama that was deemed too offensive and sickening to release until 1970, though with hindsight it has been seen as a classic British movie. Mick played a rock star bent on destroying the sanity of a London gangster, played by actor James Fox. Adding to some inter-band tensions was the fact that during a sex scene with Anita – now Keith’s full-time girlfriend – she and Mick actually performed the act for the cameras, something which infuriated Richards.

‘Street Fighting Man’

Perhaps it was just too violent, but reflecting the social upheaval and the clouds that darkened the flower-power generation as quickly as the sun had shone upon it, ‘Street Fighting Man’ was withdrawn as a UK single (it would be released two years later to reach No. 21), and it only reached No. 48 in the US charts. It called for street riots as a way to revolutionize society, and despite its chart performance it was another classic Jagger/Richards composition, and one that pinpointed exactly where ‘Jack Flash’ was heading.


Beggars Banquet

Paring their sound down and taking in country influences courtesy of Gram Parsons, Beggars Banquet was a return to roots after Their Satanic Majesties Request, and featured Brian’s last studio contributions of any substance. Its initial sleeve design – a toilet cubicle covered in graffiti – caused Decca to baulk, and demand that it be replaced with a white invitation-style design, which attracted more accusations of copying The Beatles, this time with...

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