“I’ve had hundreds of thousands of kids watching my show. I won’t stand for anything like that with a double meaning. Either the song goes, or the Stones go.” Ed Sullivan
Let’s Spend The Night Together / Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones
Decca F 12546 (UK) / London 904 (USA)
Recorded at RCA Studios, Hollywood, December 1966
Released 13th January 1967
Writers Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Producer Andrew Loog Oldham
UK #3 2/67 USA #1* 4/2/67 1 week
* ‘Ruby Tuesday’
Credited as a double A-side in the UK, ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ was the official A-side but experienced restricted airplay and thus ‘Ruby Tuesday’ received equal billing. In America there was virtually a blanket ban of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ and thus ‘Ruby Tuesday’ became the official A-side and was the title that topped the charts. Both sides were recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood in December 1966, engineered by Dave Hassinger and featured former Phil Spector arranger Jack Nitzsche on piano. There was a distinct division of labour on this single, ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ was mostly Mick Jagger’s work while ‘Ruby Tuesday’ was composed by Keith Richards, although it was in fact Brian Jones who came up with the original melodic idea. Jones received no recognition for his efforts, and the track was credited to Jagger/Richards. (Bassist Bill Wyman would experience the same frustration with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, the music of which was basically his idea.) Brian Jones also played recorder on ‘Ruby Tuesday’ while Wyman played a stand-up double-bass.
It’s said that Keith Richard’s wrote ‘Ruby Tuesday’ about a groupie, and it was perhaps also inspired by his girlfriend of the time, Linda Keith. At this point in time Ms Keith had transferred her attentions to Jimi Hendrix, and her affair with Richards had come to an end; at the time Keith was extremely bitter. In response to a journalists question as to who was the inspiration of his song Keith replied, “Who was ‘Ruby Tuesday’? Can’t remember her name. It certainly wasn’t Ruby. That’s one of those things – some chick you’ve broken up with. And all you’ve got left is the piano and the guitar and a pair of panties. And it’s goodbye, you know. And so it just comes out of that. And after that you just build on it. It’s one of those songs that are easiest to write because you’re really right there and you really sort of mean it. And for a songwriter, hey break his heart and he’ll come up with a good song.” (Following her affair with Hendrix, Linda Keith would move on to another Stone, Brian Jones)
In 1995, Jagger said, “‘Ruby Tuesday’ is good. I think that’s a wonderful song. It’s just a nice melody, really. And a lovely lyric. Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it.” Marianne Faithfull says Mick Jagger wrote ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ for her following their first night together at a Bristol, England, hotel after the Stones October 1966 gig at the Colston Hall. As mentioned, the song was pretty much banned from the US airwaves, and when the Stones arrived at CBS studios in Manhattan on the 15th of January 1967 to perform both sides of the new single on the Ed Sullivan Show they received an ultimatum from the host. Bill Wyman quotes Ed Sullivan in his book, Stone Alone (Penguin Books, 1991): “I’ve had hundreds of thousands of kids watching my show. I won’t stand for anything like that with a double meaning. Either the song goes, or the Stones go.”
A compromise was reached whereby it was agreed that Mick would sing ‘Let’s spend some time together’ rather than the offending line. When it came to show time, Mick just mumbled the line and rolled his eyes at the camera. The following week the Stones were in trouble again. Back in Britain for a performance on ATV’s showcase Sunday Night At The London Palladium, where they at least managed to perform an un-censored version of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’, the group refused to appear on the revolving stage at the end of the show where performers waved ‘goodbye’ to the audience. There was outrage in the British press, the Daily Mail printed an entire page of angry letters and a reader commented to the Daily Mirror, “The Rolling Stones have truly let Britain down.” With regard to the group’s refusal to adhere to the show’s traditional ‘showbiz’ conclusion, Keith maintained the group’s rebellious image and commented, “Bollocks to that, we’re the Stones!”
Both these tracks were recorded during sessions for the Stones album Between The Buttons, released in January 1967 with the piano on ‘Let’s Spend The Night’ played by former Phil Spector arranger Jack Nitzsche who played on many 1960s Stones sessions. Like the non-appearance of The Beatles double A-side ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields’ on their Sgt Pepper album though recorded during the same sessions, ‘Let’s Spend The Night’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday’ were absent from the UK edition of Buttons, though they were included on the US release in February 1967, ‘Please Go Home’ and ‘Back Street Girl’ being axed in favour of the single A and B sides.
Copyright © 2017 SongStories/Tony Burton