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It's Only Rock 'N' Roll

by

The Rolling Stones



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Stones Guitarist Ron Wood said of this song: "That was recorded in my house in 1974. In Richmond. The original tape was made there in my studio with Willy Weeks on bass, Kenney Jones on drums, me on guitar, and David Bowie and Mick on vocals. And Keith said, 'I've taken the precaution of wiping all of your guitars.' And I said, 'Oh, mate. This is the guy I'm gonna have to spend some time with. I suppose I better get used to it.' I said, "But you forgot one thing, Keith. You forgot my 12 string." And he said, "No. I left that on." So that's still on there. It's still got a flavor of the original recording."
Mick Jagger: "The title has been used a lot by journalists, the phrase has become a big thing. That version that's on there is the original version, which was recorded half in Ron Wood's basement, if I remember rightly. It was a demo. It's a very Chuck Berry song, but it's got a different feeling to it than a Chuck Berry song. You can't really do proper imitations of people. You always have to start out by imitating somebody. In painting, some famous artist always starts out by being an impressionist. And then they become the most famous abstract artist. Or an actor starts out by imitating someone else's style. And then you develop your own. And I think that's what happened with this band and all the musicians that have played in it. You start off with one thing, and then you mutate into another, but you still acknowledge the fact that these influences came from here and here and here. Because not everyone knows that. But you make this new amalgam. And out of all this different music, all out these Blues, out of all this Country music, out of all this Jazz and dance music and Reggae music, you know, you make something that's your own."
Drummer Charlie Watts said: "I didn't play drums on that, Kenny Jones did. I was in bed, sleeping at the time. They called Kenny Jones because he lived nearer to Richmond, it was done in a very beautiful house there that Ronnie used to own. Pete Townshend owns it now." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for all above)
This was the title track to the first album after producer Jimmy Miller left the band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did the production work.
This was the first time Ron Wood contributed to a Stones song. He would later become their lead guitarist.
The lyrics were inspired by David Bowie's song "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide." The part about "suicide on stage" is probably about Glam rockers like Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper who did a suicide bit as part of their stage theatrics.
Jagger sang this with Tina Turner on the Philadelphia stage of Live Aid in 1985. This was Mick's first live performance as a solo artist.
The promotional video (this was before MTV) had The Stones wearing sailor suits in a circus tent that slowly filled with bubbles. The bubbles eventually covered Charlie Watts, who was the only one sitting down.
This has been covered by the Spice Girls, Emmylou Harris, Natalie Imbruglia, The Cranberries and Eurythmics (who released their version as a single in support of a charity called Children's Promise). (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
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Comments (21):

I'm not an expert guitarist, Kevin, but I know you're not going crazy. The same riff indeed. I know, Ferris, that it's only rock-&-roll, but I like this song. In fact, I prefer the new Stones. Nothing against the blues beat; I won't say I despise even blues itself, but my eardrums' rock specialty is anything but tragedy. I prefer advice & story lines in which the musician isn't the one w/ a shattered spirit.
- Drew, B\'ham, AL
Yes bowie on bck up vocals,also watch film clip carefullyon HD,is that a trouser snake hanging frm mick?
I always thought this song was kind of a rip-off of T-Rex's "Bang A Gong." The guitar riff is pretty much the same. Being a guitarist I tend to notice these things more than non-musicians . . . or maybe its my imagination. Not sure.
- kevin, Reading , PA
Live version of this song is played in "B" now because Jagger can't hit the same notes he did on this version anymore. I saw someone referred to Ronnie as their "lead guitarist." I got quite a chuckle out that.
- Patrick, Greenville, SC
I love this song. One of my favourites from the Stones.
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
My favorite RS hit
- Caitlin, Upper Township, NJ
I think this is one of the Stones most overrated songs, it really doesn't do anything for me.
- Robert, Queens, NY
this was jaggers response to bianca comment to why he was wasting his time on rock n roll and should focus on acting , from jagger unauthorized by chris anderson
- Iceman, South Glastonbury, CT
Actually in the promo video, the bubbles filled the entire band and everone had to pile out or risk drowning. There's a great part in a recent Simpsons where Homer is at the Stone's R&R fantasy camp. He's very dejected when it's time to go. Mick says to him "It's only Rock 'n' Roll camp", and Homer replies "But I like it."
- Sam, Shanghai, China
They're making fun of glam rock (ie: Alice Cooper). What a motto "It's Only Rock and Roll, but I Like It".
- Jay, Atlanta, GA
To Johnny from L.A: Yes, its true, this is one of their best songs...But did you notice that the caps lock is in the top right of your computer ??? Sorry, but it really pisses me off...
- Homero, Monterrey , Mexico
To Ferris from Ohio: You say yo love RS and you can t stand this song ??? I think you don t like the Stones really...Let s start to hear music man...
- Homero, Monterrey , Mexico
when they play this song live they switchThe stage
Would it
Satisfy ya?
Would it
Slide on by ya?
Would you think that boy is strange?
"Ain't he strange..."
with For your cheatin' heart
If I broke down and cried?
If I cried...
- brian, alluhrst, NJ
ONE OF THE BEST STONES SONGS EVER!!! HURRAH!!!
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
As for the above it,s still a great song and Mick does a great job with the female vocalist at the last concert I saw in Adelaide Autralia in April 1995, was It Lisa Fisher, Her tongue is nearly as big as Mick,s
- Jon, Adelaide, Australia
I love the Rolling Stones, but I can't stand this song.
- Ferris, Ohio, OH
the promotional video that you referenced was shown on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert.
- scott, Vancouver, Canada
The Rooling Stones started out as a blues band, and still considered themselves a "blues band that sang and played rock and roll" through the 60's. But by the early 1970's they knew they had lost any "blues" cerdibility and decided to admit that what they did "was only rock and roll", but they liked it.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
Ditto, Justin, it's only Rock n' Roll here. The Rolling Stones were in no position or mood, I guess, to try their old social commentary banter. Loads of fun.
- Matt, Russell Springs, KY
Works as a real pick-me-up for me as do most Stones songs. No need to analyze it, just enjoy it.
- justin, singapore, Singapore
It is also reputed that David Bowie sang in the backup vocals also highlighting his thing about a rock star dying on stage.
- Stanley, Auckland, New Zealand
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