Personalities | The Rolling Stones (1978) | Key Events
Principally a Jagger song written for Jerry Hall, whom he’d met the previous year, and forming out of a jam with Billy Preston, ‘Miss You’ was the song that helped the Stones regain their commercial foothold in the 1970s, and also continued their overtly funk-and-disco-infused direction, building upon Black And Blue’s experiments. Hitting No. 3 in the UK and No. 1 in the States, it was not only built around a groove, but was also an unbelievably catchy song that would be the Stones’ last monster single release. A near nine-minute version also exists, which was released as a 12-inch single for the disco/club market.
With punk – the antithesis to the touring behemoth the Stones had become (though many punks identified with Keith’s ‘up yours’ attitude to authority) – having taken over rock’s consciousness the previous year, the Stones’ new album (for new label EMI) had to be something incredible. Their first with Ron Wood as a true full-time member, it traversed disco, punk and all-out rock; reinvigorated their fading fortunes, energies and now-aging audience; saved their career; and was actually their biggest-selling album. Interestingly, it marked the first time in 15 years that Keith would add the ‘s’ back on to his surname, after Andrew Oldham suggested he drop it in 1963, to sound more like ‘Cliff Richard’.
Start Of American Tour
With Ian McLagan – keyboardist and old Face cohort of Ron’s – in tow instead of Billy Preston, the Stones embarked on a gloomy tour of the US. Instead of celebrating their new-found commercial success, they lacked energy and had stripped down slightly from before; with Mick and Ron performing under the shadow of divorce, some lethargic renditions of old warhorse songs, a tired group in general, and a splitting of camps between Jagger (and Jerry Hall) and Keith. Ron was a fairly successful go-between, however, and with Keith finally off heroin for a tour, Ron even convinced him to allow Bill Wyman into his room to talk things over. The relationship between the two Stones had decayed drastically over the past 10 years.
‘Beast Of Burden’
A US-only single, ‘Beast Of Burden’ was a Motown-influenced song from Keith that referenced his battles with heroin and begged Anita not to drag him down with her. The most emotional song on Some Girls, it was a perfect example of Ron and Keith’s harmony through guitar playing – ‘the ancient form of weaving’, where neither took lead nor rhythm, but traded licks and grooves to create something almost transcendent and whole.
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