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The Stones first recorded this at the Some Girls sessions in 1977. After the first 2 takes, they recorded it with a Reggae beat a bunch of times, but didn't like the result. They put it away until 4 years later, when they needed a song for Tattoo You. They went back to the second take and reworked it for the album.
Keith Richards: "The story here is the miracle that we ever found that track. I was convinced - and I think Mick was - that it was definitely a Reggae song. And we did it in 38 takes - 'Start me up. Yeah, man, cool. You know, you know, Jah Rastafari.' And it didn't make it. And somewhere in the middle of a break, just to break the tension, Charlie and I hit the Rock And Roll version. And right after that we went straight back to Reggae. And we forgot totally about this one little burst in the middle, until about 5 years later when somebody sifted all the way through these Reggae takes. After doing about 70 takes of "Start Me Up" he found that one in the middle. It was just buried in there. Suddenly I had it. Nobody remembered cutting it. But we leapt on it again. We did a few overdubs on it, and it was like a gift, you know? One of the great luxuries of The Stones is we have an enormous, great big can of stuff. I mean what anybody hears is just the tip of an iceberg, you know. And down there is vaults of stuff. But you have to have the patience and the time to actually sift through it." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Microsoft paid $10 million to use this for their Windows '95 advertising campaign. Although it became common practice in years to come, this was one of the first times a hit song was used in a major marketing campaign.
The Stones first recorded this in Paris the same day in 1977 that they recorded "Miss You."
As he did with "Honky Tonk Women
" and some other Stones songs, Keith Richards played this in open G tuning. The guitar tablature contains notation for just the top 5 strings. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This became a staple at sporting events. It is usually played before some kind of action or the start of a game.
The Stones used this to open their 1989 Steel Wheels tour.
Ford used this in ads that started just after midnight on January 1, 2003. It was part of a campaign to reintroduce their cars to the American public, with commercials airing on sporting events as well as an episode of The Simpsons where Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were guest stars. This was the first time a Stones song was used in a car commercial.
The Stones played this at halftime of the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. Two years earlier, Janet Jackson had her famous "Wardrobe Malfunction" during her performance, so the NFL wasn't taking any chances - they cut the volume on the line "You make a dead man come."
Producer Chris Kimsey recalled in the book Classic Tracks: The Real Stories Behind 68 Seminal Recordings
by Richard Buskin: "After they cut it, I said, 'That's bloody great! Come and listen'. However, when I played it back Keith said, 'Nah, it sounds like something I've heard on the radio. Wipe it.' Of course, I didn't, but he really did not like it and I'm not sure whether he likes it to this day. I don't think it's one of his favourite songs, although it's obviously everyone's favourite guitar riff; his guitar riff. Maybe because Keith loves reggae so much, he wanted it to be a reggae song, but that wasn't to be."
"Including run-throughs, 'Start Me Up' took about six hours to record," Kimsey added. "You see, if they all played the right chords at the right time, went to the chorus at the right time and got to the middle eight together, that was a master. It was like, 'Oh, wow!' Don't forget, they would never sit down and work out a song – they would jam it and the song would evolve out of that. That's their magic."
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