Friday, August 21, 1981

The Rolling Stones charted with “Start Me Up”

Start Me Up

The Rolling Stones

Writer(s): Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (see lyrics here)

Released: August 14, 1981

First Charted: August 21, 1981

Peak: 2 US, 4 CB, 5 HR, 9 RR, 113 AR, 7 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 124.2 video, 450.34 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

A band that’s been around nearly 20 years isn’t supposed to still be such a presence on the pop charts, but no one told the Rolling Stones. 1981’s Tattoo You was the band’s eight consecutive #1 album in the United States. Its nine weeks atop the chart was more than any other Stones’ album. It also sold eight million copies worldwide; 1978’s Some Girls was their only studio album which did better.

The lead single, “Start Me Up,” had a lot to do with the album’s success. One could practically hear lead singer Mick Jagger strutting his way through the stadium-rocking anthem which the band has frequently used since to open their shows. A video in which he did, in fact, do plenty of strutting, proved that the Rolling Stones could keep up with any of the newer acts when it came to getting played on the fledging MTV. Jagger consciously wanted to emulate the style of videos being showcased on the music network, saying it was “the future.” WK

“Start Me Up” also found a home at album rock radio, and spent 13 weeks atop the album rock chart which Billboard launched that year. The song held the record for most weeks at #1 until 1994 when Stone Temple Pilots spent 15 weeks on top with “Interstate Love Song.” WK All Music Guide’s Stewart Mason called it “the last great Rolling Stones song.” AMG

The song originated in 1978 during the sessions for Some Girls. It was originally a reggae-rock song called “Never Stop,” but they put it aside when it wasn’t coming together. When the group was prepping for a tour in 1981, they dug through the vaults for some “new” songs. The band’s engineer, Chris Kimsey, found a more rock version of the song in the midst of dozens of reggae versions of the song and the band added overdubs. WK The result was the song we now know as “a tough little rock & roll song powered by one of Keith Richards’ trademark riffs and a solid Charlie Watts backbeat.” AMG


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First posted 2/7/2021; last updated 10/27/2022.

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