Tuesday, June 19, 2018

50 years ago: The Rolling Stones hit #1 in the UK with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

The Rolling Stones

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

First Charted: May 24, 1968

Peak: 3 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 2 HR, 1 CL, 12 UK, 5 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 21.09 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were both busted for drugs in 1967 and the Stones’ album Their Satanic Majestices Request proved the band were “ill-suited to psychedela.” KL The band were also transitioning from producer Andrew Oldham to Jimmy Miller. They “needed a great, gutsy single to re-establish themselves.” KL Keyboardist/bassist Bill Wyman said, “It had been nearly 18 months since we had a US or UK top three single. Our reputation was now based on anything but the music.” KL

The band’s “confidence returned with the powerful single” KL “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “a decisive return to form.” TB Some saw it as “the band’s return to their blues roots.” WK Rolling Stone magazine called it “supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London.” WK Guitarist Brian Jones saw it as a return to their “funky, essential essence.” WK NME said, “The Stones have a unique flair for taking a basically simple formula and turning it into a miniature epic.” KL

Interestingly, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” has been hailed as the song that “marked a transition to guitar rock.” SF Danny Garcia, the director of the documentary Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, said, “During the ‘60s the band evolved from an R&B band to a pop band to a psychedelic band until they found their sound with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in ’68.” SF

There are two very different accounts of how the song was birthed. Wyman says the song was based on a piano riff he developed at rehearsals and then he expanded it with drummer Charlie Watts and guitarist Brian Jones. TB However, another story says Jagger and Richards were at the latter’s country house in Redlands, jamming at six in the morning after being up all night. The gardener walked by the window and Jagger asked who it was. Richards replied, “Oh, that’s Jack – that’s jumpin’ Jack.” SS

Jagger has said the song is “about having a hard time and getting out,” specifically that it was a metaphor for getting away from acid. WK The song marked the band’s seventh trip to the top of the UK chart and it marked their eleventh trip to the top 10 in the U.S. It became one of their most popular songs; they’ve played it over 1,100 times in concert. WK Songfacts.com even claims it is their most-performed song. SF


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First posted 2/10/2021; last updated 3/31/2023.

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