It's Only Rock 'N' Roll

Album: It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (1974)
Charted: 10 16
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Songfacts®:

  • A straightforward celebration of rock 'n' roll, Faces guitarist Ron Wood, who had not yet joined The Rolling Stones, had a big part in it. Wood lived in a London estate called The Wick, which Pete Townshend later bought. It was there that Wood put the song together at a session with Mick Jagger on vocals, David Bowie singing background, the session player Willie Weeks on bass, and Wood's Faces bandmate, Kenney Jones, on drums.

    When Keith Richards got a hold of the recording, he put his own guitar parts on, but left some of Wood's 12-string. Jones, Weeks and Bowie remained on the final product.
  • Mick Jagger explained: "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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • 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 marked the first time Ron Wood contributed to a Stones song, although the official songwriting credit went to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, per custom. Wood joined the band in 1975.
  • Lyrically, this drew inspiration from David Bowie's 1972 Ziggy Stardust track "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide." When Mick Jagger sings, "If I could stick a knife in my heart, suicide right on stage," he's likely referencing glam rockers like Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper who did a suicide bit as part of their stage theatrics.
  • Mick Jagger sang this with Tina Turner on the Philadelphia stage of Live Aid in 1985. After singing "State Of Shock" with Turner, they launched into "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" and Jagger started disrobing. Both performers left the stage, and when they came back, Jagger was fully clothes and Turner was wearing a tearaway skirt that Jagger ripped off (Janet Jackson and Justing Timberlake tried something similar when performing at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, resulting in the infamous "Wardrobe Malfunction"). Live Aid was Jagger'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). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada

Comments: 24

  • Rock Spasm from Pembroke Pines, FloridaNot only does this sound like "get it on" by T Rex, but "gimme shelter" is even closer musically to it.
  • Sanles from Nsw AustraliaI dislike most of Mick Jagger's songs but came across It's Only Rock N Roll on Jukebox SN and and wanted to know more about the soap bubbles.
  • David from FranceOn the album of 1974, you can read "Inspiration by Ron Wood", it wasn't a secret. Critics tells the story of the inspiration by Ron Wood, but strangely they never find that It's only rock'n'roll is an adaptation of Blues power. Clapton talks about the power of blues, the Rolling stones change for rock'n'roll. The guitars of Blues power have inspired the title of the stones, it's clear. And why inspiration by Ron Wood ? For a simple reason, Ron Wood played Blues power with Clapton at Rainbow theater in january 1973. Ron Wood liked to play Blues power and the Stones were impressed.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlI'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.
  • AnonymousYes bowie on bck up vocals,also watch film clip carefullyon HD,is that a trouser snake hanging frm mick?
  • Kevin from Reading , PaI 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.
  • Patrick from Greenville, ScLive 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.
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaI love this song. One of my favourites from the Stones.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjMy favorite RS hit
  • Robert from Queens, NyI think this is one of the Stones most overrated songs, it really doesn't do anything for me.
  • Iceman from South Glastonbury, Ctthis 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
  • Sam from Shanghai, ChinaActually 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."
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaThey're making fun of glam rock (ie: Alice Cooper). What a motto "It's Only Rock and Roll, but I Like It".
  • Homero from Monterrey , MexicoTo 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 from Monterrey , MexicoTo 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...
  • Brian from Alluhrst, Njwhen 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...
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaONE OF THE BEST STONES SONGS EVER!!! HURRAH!!!
  • Jon from Adelaide, AustraliaAs 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
  • Ferris from Ohio, OhI love the Rolling Stones, but I can't stand this song.
  • Scott from Vancouver, Canadathe promotional video that you referenced was shown on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThe 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.

  • Matt from Russell Springs, KyDitto, 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.
  • Justin from Singapore, SingaporeWorks as a real pick-me-up for me as do most Stones songs. No need to analyze it, just enjoy it.
  • Stanley from Auckland, New ZealandIt is also reputed that David Bowie sang in the backup vocals also highlighting his thing about a rock star dying on stage.
see more comments

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