Tumbling Dice

Album: Exile on Main St. (1972)
Charted: 5 7


  • This was originally titled "Good Time Woman," with different lyrics. Mick Jagger told the story of the song to The Sun newspaper May 21, 2010: "It started out with a great riff from Keith and we had it down as a completed song called Good Time Women. That take is one of the bonus tracks on the new Exile package; it was quite fast and sounded great but I wasn't happy with the lyrics.

    Later, I got the title in my head, 'call me the tumbling dice' so I had the theme for it. I didn't know anything about dice playing but I knew lots of jargon used by dice players. I'd heard gamblers in casinos shouting it out.

    I asked my housekeeper if she played dice. She did and she told me these terms. That was the inspiration."
  • The Stones recorded this in the musty basement of the Villa Nellcote, a place Keith Richards rented in France so the band could avoid paying taxes in England. They would sleep all day and record at night with whoever showed up. For this track, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards played guitar, and Mick Taylor, ordinarily lead guitarist, played bass.
  • Jagger played guitar on this, something he rarely did.
  • This was the only track from Exile to chart in the Top 20 of the singles chart. Jagger told The Sun: "It's obviously the most accessible and commercial song on the record. After 'Tumbling Dice,' I remember there wasn't really a follow-up single. People said, 'So, what are you going to release now then?'"
  • Jagger: "It's like a good guitar-hook tune. It's a bit like Honky Tonk Women in a way, in the way it's set up. But it was done for Exile. It's got a lot more background vocals on it. A very messy mix. But that was the fashion in those days. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This features Bobby Keys on sax and Jim Price on trumpet. They showed up in France to help with the album, and played with The Stones through the early '70s. Keith Richards and Bobby Keys were born on the same day: December 18, 1943. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Whitney - Houston, TX
  • Background vocalists include Vanetta Fields and Clydie King.
  • Linda Ronstadt covered this in 1977. Ronstadt's career during the 1970s was based largely on her successful covers of other artists' songs. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • Exile on Main St. was a double album, and the victim of poor sales and harsh criticism when it was released. Over the years, it has become more appreciated and is considered some of The Stones' best work.
  • Andy Johns, who engineered the Exile sessions, told Goldmine in 2010: "Obviously it was going to be great but it was a big struggle. Eventually we get a take. Hooray! I thought, 'Let's kick this up a notch and double track Charlie.' 'Oh, we've never done that before.' 'Well, it doesn't mean we can't do it now.' So we double-tracked Charlie but he couldn't play the ending. For some reason he got a mental block about the ending. So Jimmy Miller plays from the breakdown on out that was very easy to punch in. It was a little bit different than some of the others. That song we did more takes than anything else."

Comments: 14

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 21st 1978, The Rolling Stones appeared in concert at the Community Center in Tucson, Arizona...
    The fourteenth song in their set was their 1972 #7* hit "Tumbling Dice"...
    Linda Ronstadt joined them onstage during the performance of the song; one month earlier on June 10th her covered version of the song was at #93 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and that was its last day on the chart...
    Her version entered the Top 100 on April 16th at #70; five weeks later on May 21st it would peak would peak at #32 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the Top 100 for 8 weeks...
    * Interestingly, both versions peaked on the same day in May; the Stones at #7 on May 21st, 1972 and Linda's at #32 on May 21st, 1978.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 23rd, 1972, "Tumbling Dice" by the Rolling Stones entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #50; and on May 21st it peaked at #7 (for 2 weeks) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    It was track 5 of side 1 on the group's double album, 'Exile on Main Street', and on June 11th, 1972 the album reached #1 (for 4 weeks) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    One other track from the album also made the Top 100 chart, "Happy", it peaked at #22 (for 1 week) on August 13th, 1972...
    As already stated; Linda Ronstadt covered "Tumbling Dice", her version reached #32 (for 2 weeks) on May 21st, 1978...
    May God bless and watch over Ms. Ronstadt.
  • Jim from New York, NyVery good Stones song and I understand it to be one of Keith's favorites. Exile was both a brilliant and terrible record. Listening to Sweet Virginia is mind blowing, then try and listen to Just want to see his face
  • Ed from Lake City, FlExile is the best album the stones ever did, of course i knew that the day it came out and i bought it. been diggin on it ever since, not a bad song on it, just like abbey road
  • Justin from Singapore, SingaporeMessy is the word I'd use to describe Exile. Messy and mind-blowingly awesome! In Sticky Fingers and Exile, I think the Stones were at their musical best.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaFantastic song from the greatest album in rock history. Rolling Stone magazine bagged it when it came out, then did something unheard of. Some time later Exile was reviewed again to unheralded praise. It is an album that requires listening from start to finish. It is the perfect album. No one can ever hope to come close to matching the authority of Exile on Main St.
  • Bubba Zanetti from Austin, TxExile is one of the best Rock/Blues albums of all time. Played by a bunch of crackers stealing the brothers' music, but still, hands down in the top three.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScExile is a great album. I'm glad people like it now, but it's too bad people didn't like it when it sas released.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaMike did say something right. Great instrumental track.
  • Bill from Erie, PaMike from Berkeley: No. You're wrong. Simple as that.
    I've seen the Stones perform this in concert three time, and it's my favorite song of theirs.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyLinda Ronstadt's cover version specifically had her articulate they lyrics because on the Stone's version you couldn't understand them. Stones fans were upset becuase they thought that was what made the song great - trying to guess the lyrics!

  • Dave from London , Canada"Tumblin' came out of Nellcote, Keith's villa in the south of France, and reflects the bands trips to the nearby gambling casinos of Monte Carlo in their downtime.
  • Mike from Berkeley, CaAnother dumb commercial song with a great instrumental track. People wonder why Jagger's lyrics are hard to make out sometimes, but I know why: THEY'RE DUMB!!!
  • Dean from Danbury, CtGreat song....live version from Atlantic City DVD is awesome.......
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