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This song was originally recorded by the Jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra on the Verve Records label in October 1963. His version was mostly instrumental with just the lyric "time is on my side" sung by the background trio of Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick.
The first fully vocal version was recorded by the New Orleans Soul singer Irma Thomas. Her version was released as the B-side of "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" in June, 1964. The Rolling Stones released their version of the song in the US on September 26, 1964, and it became their first Top 10 hit in America. Thomas' version contains a spoken part in the middle that the Stones left out.
The lyrics were most likely written by Jimmy Norman, who was a member of The Coasters. The songwriting credit is unclear, and usually lists Jerry Ragovoy, who wrote "Piece Of My Heart" and "Try" for Janis Joplin, as the only writer, sometimes as "Norman Meade," which he used as a pseudonym. Thomas' original single lists the credit as "J. Norman - N. Meade." Ragovoy, who also produced the song for Thomas, died in 2011 at age 80. (thanks, Dave - Greenville, SC)
Keith Richards said of this song: "In America we were basically known for heavy, slowish kind of ballads. Time Is On My Side, Tell Me, Heart of Stone, that was what we were known for. Strangely enough that was our thing. Every single was a slow song. Who would believe it? You'd think they'd be clamoring for out-and-out rock and roll, but no, it was the Soul ballads that happened for us in America." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This was one of two songs The Stones performed in 1964 on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance. The other was "Around And Around." Sullivan was shocked by their looks and promised to never have them back. He ended up inviting them back several times.
The Rolling Stones released two versions of this song. The US single was recorded in England and is slower, with a gospel organ. The British version was recorded at Chess studios in Chicago.
This song played a key role in the suspense thriller Fallen with Denzel Washington and John Goodman. (thanks, John - Woburn, MA)
When Judd Apatow needed under-appreciated rockers for his Knocked Up
sequel, he immediately thought of Parker, who just happened to be getting his band The Rumour back together.
Bass Player Scott Edwards
Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."