lost password recovery

recover my password

Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact

sign in

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the Newsletter

Midnight Rambler by The Rolling Stones

Album: Let It BleedReleased: 1969
  • In this song, Mick Jagger takes on the persona of killer who is stalking his victim. This character calls himself the "midnight rambler" and he seems to relish his notoriety - much like many real-life serial killers.

    A likely inspiration for the lyric is the case of the Boston Strangler. Thirteen women were found dead (many had been sexually assaulted) in and around Boston from 1962-1964. Most of the victims had been strangled and were found with their nylon stockings tied in a bow around their necks.

    In 1965, Albert DeSalvo, who was serving time in a mental institution on rape charges, confessed to the murders and was later sentenced to life in prison. There was no clear physical evidence that DeSalvo committed the crimes, however, and his confession has been questioned, with some forensic experts stating that there may have been multiple killers. DeSalvo died in prison in 1973; new evidence has come up in the case from time to time.

    As for the song, while the lyrics do not directly relate to the case, Jagger implies it when he sings, "Well you heard about the Boston..." before an instrumental stab cuts him off.
  • The Stones played this in 1969 and throughout the '70s at their concerts, and when they did, it was a showstopper. Mick Jagger created a morbid atmosphere as he took the role of the killer, spastically whipping the floor toward the end of the song as the audience would scream along.

    These performances were enhanced by a custom light rig that their lighting director, Chip Monck, created for the band's 1969 US tour. This was the first lighting system to travel with a rock band, and The Stones used it to great effect on this song. At the climax, the lights would shine red on Jagger in a very theatrical moment.
  • Mick Jagger: "That's a song Keith and I really wrote together. We were on a holiday in Italy. In this very beautiful hill town, Positano, for a few nights. Why we should write such a dark song in this beautiful, sunny place, I really don't know. We wrote everything there - the tempo changes, everything. And I'm playing the harmonica in these little cafés, and there's Keith with the guitar." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Brian Jones is credited on percussion. Even though he died before this album was released, a few of the songs were recorded during the Beggar's Banquet sessions in 1968. "Midnight Rambler" was one of them. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joel - Chicago, IL
  • Mick Taylor added an extra guitar to the live performances of this. The live version can be heard on Get Yer Ya-Yas Out.
  • When Mick Jagger performed this in character on stage, it was good preparation for his acting career. In 1970, he appeared in two films: Ned Kelly and Performance. He would later appear in Freejack (1992) and The Man from Elysian Fields (2001).
  • Keith Richards: "When we did Midnight Rambler, nobody went in there with the idea of doing a blues opera, basically. Or a blues in four parts. That's just the way it turned out. I think that's the strength of the Stones or any good band. You can give them a song half raw and they'll cook it."
Sign in or Register to post comments

Comments: 19

While the version on Get Yer Ya-Yas Out showcases some amazing guitar weaving by Keef and Mick Taylor, I gotta say the studio version is immensely better. It is so much darker and scarier (well, not really, but you get the idea) than the live one. The harmonica in the middle of the song is purely haunting.Dav - Woburn, Ma
Love the song. One of their best and one of my favorites. Ever noticed around the 3:48 mark of the album version of the song during the "Oh don't do that", someone sounds like they either burped or passed gas and Mick sounds like he asks "did you do that?" Then, he and Keith proceed to laugh. Oh those crazy kids!Lovelyrita - Pepperland, Vt
The lyrics suggest that de salvo was not responsible eg.'u heard bout the boston shh...its not one of those'Joe - Adelaide,
The Blues sound in this song is what makes it haunting and the harmonica lends a dark, southern sound. Which is odd because it's about a northeastern serial killer. I liked the sound before I knew what the lyrics were about. There's not too much comment here on what it actually means, which is pretty horrific. In a way it's like a Broadside Ballad, telling a ghastly tale by way of a song. Think of the old ballad, "Pretty Polly"....Heather - Los Angeles, Ca
The Ya-ya's version is great, until you realise it's severely edited. The Brussels Affair version is quite simply the most powerful thing you will ever hear. They did this song in Melbourne in 2003 and i could not beleive the power! I even said to my wife "I cannot believe a band could rock so hard". This song is a musical lesson!Craig - Melbourne, Australia
The Stones when I was in the 11th grade were wonderful. I saw them from 10 rows back in Baltimore. Mick Jagger performed Midnight Rambler, whipping the stage with his thick, silver-studded leather belt. Twas a wonderful performance. It was just days before Let It Bleed, the album containing it was released ....Steven Cooper - Sheboygan, Wi
Love this one. Capo at the 7th fret and go nuts with blues bass figures followed by open D and A chord forms, pulling off each to their sus2 and 7th forms...great fun to play!Andrew - New York, United States
I think the best version of Midnight Rambler I've ever heard is off the bootleg album "A Brussels Affair." It's 13 minutes of pure genius.Rob - Queens, Ny
Absolutely the best song the Stones ever have done, at least the live version on "Ya-Ya's". I've worn out 3 albums, 5 tapes, and am on my 2nd CD of that album. Amazing and still holds up after all these years. It's too bad that it was cut from the movie, would love to see it.Brent S - Salem, Or
Is the version on "Hot Rocks" the same as the one on "Yayas." It must be, because one of you mentioned someone said "...Love Jesus" or "We love Jesus" or something at the beginning of that track. The "love Jesus" bit also appears at the beginning of this song on 'Hot Rocks." Just to be sure though, I'm asking you guys. Is it the same?Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
My favorite song ever, this song live
is even better that on the album "Let it Bleed"
Rob - Glendale, Ny
i went to the rolling stones concert in wellington, new zealand a week ago and this song blew my mind away. it was an amazing concert. midnight rambler was definately one of the stand out songs. they also did a great sympathy for the devil and the whole crowd was going..."woo woo"....before mick even started singing. the last song was satisfaction and i couldnt even hear mick jagger singing because the whole crowd was singing along.Lucy - Wellington, New Zealand
This was the best song in the Monterrey concert serlist. Jagger do it very good...Homero - Monterrey , Mexico
i have a 15 minute bootleg version of rambler and it is quite simply the most frightening bit of music i have heard.The evil that is present is mindblowing. Shaun England.Shaun - Carlisle England, England
The "Ya-Yas" version of this is the single greatest live recording I've ever heard.Keith - Front Royal, Va
Great song. The audience starts chanting "Mick!" at the beginning of the live version on Hot Rocks; the whole track is filled with the maniacle screaming of fans.Emily - Philadelphia, Pa
At the beginning of this song on the live album "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out" a girl in the audience shouts "We Love Jesus!"Rick - Fort Worth, Tx
This is my favourite song. After some concerts I finally heard it live the first time in Hartford, CT in 1999 on the B stage and I went crazy! You know, we are talking about a pretty demanding song, and "the guys" are not bubblegummers.... but they shocked me once more! I saw them playing it also in Milan in 2003, another great performance! Beautiful dirty scathing song, extraordinary group, simply the best in the Rock history...Damiano - Sasso Marconi, Italy
I love this stones song. It's got a lot of dark imagery in it.Made me actually think more of Jack The Ripper than DeSalvo but that could be because of the timing of the song. The killer does this stuff at night so it made me think of The Ripper.Eric - Franklin, Ma
see more comments