Now believe it or not, I was still pretty young when The Rolling Stones first came upon the music scene in 1962. The band was formed when original leader Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart were joined by singer Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards, bassist Bill Wyman, and drummer Charlie Watts. Formed in London, England their music was originally based on rhythm & blues and rock & roll.
The group set out on their first UK tour in July of 1963 (when I wasn't even five years old) and shortly after the British Invasion hit the shores and ears of America when they performed their first US tour in June of 1964. In bassist's Bill Wyman's words it was, "a disaster. When we arrived, we didn't have a hit record [there] or anything going for us." On their second US tour in the autumn of 1964, the band played on The Ed Sullivan Show (a major showcase for new talent at the time) but you can bet your bottom dollar my parents didn't let us watch that performance!
During both of these tours, the group was mostly performing cover songs and not playing any of their own songs yet. Even though there had been a single or two released earlier that was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it wasn't until December of 1964 that their label, London Records, released the band's first single with Jagger/Richards originals on both sides: Heart of Stone and What A Shame. The "A" side, Heart of Stone, went to number 19 on the US charts. Shortly after that, the band stopped doing covers and concentrated on their own work.
Under My Thumb was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1966 and first appeared on The Stones' album Aftermath, their 4th UK and 6th US studio album. It was never released as a single but was still one of their more popular hits even though it set a lot of feminists on edge with its lyrics that celebrate a man's struggle to get out from under a pushy and dominating woman. In a 1995 interview, Jagger had this to say about the song - "It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others .... Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman." Jagger may have been referring to a model named Chrissie Shrimpton that he was dating at the time as she has been cited as an inspiration for the song. Personally I'm not sure that's exactly the type of song I'd want to inspire but maybe Chrissie didn't mind!
All in all, The Rolling Stones have released 22 studio albums in the UK (24 in the US), eight concert albums (nine in the US), and numerous compilations; they have had 32 UK & US top-10 singles, 43 UK & US top-10 albums between 1964 and 2008; and have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. Last year they hit the road with the highest-grossing concert tour in history and they show absolutely no signs of slowing down. I'd have to say that these guys are certainly under no one's thumb!
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