Rolling Stones Release Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Out of Our Heads’s blend of cover versions and original songs both extended the Rolling Stones’ reputation as traditionalists and established them as innovative lyricists, introducing new sounds and themes to rock.

Summary of Event

By 1965, the Rolling Stones—Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman—had established themselves as an inventive cover band, introducing the music of black American blues and soul artists to a largely white international audience. Out of Our Heads, their fourth American album (their third British studio album), marked the transition of the group from interpreters and popularizers of other music to creators of their own, with five cover versions and seven original songs (three written under the band’s collective pseudonym, “Nanker Phelge”) on the album. It was released in the United States on July 26, 1965, and in the United Kingdom on September 24. Their next English release, Aftermath Aftermath (Rolling Stones) (1966; two compilations of assorted old and new material were released between the two albums in America), would consist entirely of original material written by Jagger and Richards. Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (Rolling Stones) Music;rock Rock and roll British Invasion [kw]Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads (July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965) [kw]Out of Our Heads, Rolling Stones Release (July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965) Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (Rolling Stones) Music;rock Rock and roll British Invasion [g]North America;July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965: Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads[08460] [g]Europe;July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965: Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads[08460] [g]United States;July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965: Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads[08460] [g]United Kingdom;July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965: Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads[08460] [c]Music;July 26 and Sept. 24, 1965: Rolling Stones Release Out of Our Heads[08460] Jagger, Mick Richards, Keith Jones, Brian Watts, Charlie Wyman, Bill Oldham, Andrew Loog

Out of Our Heads’s punning title suggests that the band was entirely conscious of the change in direction. The title phrase suggests first the unpolished, high-energy sound that had come to characterize their early cover versions of songs and made of them not imitations but interpretations, frequently surpassing the original versions. The title also suggests that most of the material on the album was their own, created out of their own heads.

Side 1 of the album repeated the successful formula of the Rolling Stones’ earlier records, with four covers of rhythm-and-blues songs: Don Covay’s “Mercy Mercy,” "Mercy Mercy" (Covay)[Mercy Mercy] Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike,” Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” and Sam Cooke’s “Good Times.” The first two represented the Rolling Stones’ talent as cover artists particularly well, constituting creative reworkings rather than mere covers. The side also featured two original compositions: “I’m All Right” "I’m All Right" (Jagger and Richards)[Im All Right] was basically a throwaway, a live track meant to illustrate the band’s rough and energetic performance style and highlight the screaming of the crowd, but “The Last Time,” "Last Time, The" (Jagger and Richards)[Last Time, The] recorded in Los Angeles on January 17, 1965, was one of Jagger and Richards’s best early songs.

With “Play with Fire,” "Play with Fire" (Jagger and Richards)[Play with Fire] another original song from the same recording session, as the B side, “The Last Time” was released as a single in February. It quickly went gold, selling more than a million copies worldwide and making it to number eight on Billboard’s pop chart by March 8; the record was the band’s biggest hit to date. It also marked the first time that one of their own compositions had appeared as the A side of a single in England, another sign of the trend away from covers toward original material.

While the record’s first side looked back to the band’s earlier albums and built on their reputation as a cover band with blues and soul roots, side 2 looked ahead to their future as musical innovators. There was still one cover, a version of Solomon Burke’s Burke, Solomon “Cry to Me.” "Cry to Me" (Burke)[Cry to Me] While Burke had had a mild hit with his own version, it had not crossed over to the pop charts, and it was the Rolling Stones’ cover that made his music accessible to a large white audience. The other five songs were originals, the most the band had ever included on an album side.

The most important of these songs was the one that opened the side and became the album’s second single, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" (Jagger and Richards)[I Cant Get No Satisfaction] The song was written during the band’s third American concert tour, which began on April 29. Richards came up with the basic musical riff on May 6, Jagger wrote the lyrics within a day or two, and they made an attempt at recording it on May 10 and 11 in Chicago’s Chess Studios, where many of the classic blues artists they had been covering had recorded their own material. The band did get three other songs for the album finished at Chess (“Mercy Mercy,” “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” and “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”), but the last five cuts for the album, including the final version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” were recorded May 12 and 13 at RCA Studios in Hollywood.

The band had originally recorded the song with acoustic guitar and harmonica, almost as a folk song, but Richards changed the song entirely by switching to an electric guitar, with electronic distortion provided by the newly developed Gibson “fuzz-box.” The fuzz-guitar sound served the same function as had the horn sections that the band’s rhythm-and-blues and soul influences had long been using on their Motown and Stax recordings, providing sustain and density and making the lead guitar the central component of the rhythm section. It seems likely that Richards had developed this guitar technique through his efforts to reproduce the horn textures on some of the material the band had been covering, and the guitar arrangement on “Mercy Mercy,” clearly meant to fill the role played by horns on the original, bears a strong resemblance to the famous “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” riff. The vocals were buried under the instruments in the mix, making the lyrics hard to decipher, perhaps partly because of fears that censorship would hurt radio play. In 1965, the line “I’m trying to make some girl” would have offended many listeners, and numerous supposed allusions to sex and drugs have been read between the lines since the song’s release.

On June 4, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” entered Billboard’s top one hundred at number sixty-four; within two weeks, it had jumped to fourth, and the next week it went to number one, where it stayed until July 31, by which time the album had been released. Their first number-one hit in the enormous American market, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” established the Rolling Stones not only artistically but also financially. Ironically, Jagger and Richards, who had written the song, originally thought that it would make a strong album cut or B side but did not have hit potential. Fortunately for their careers, the band’s other members and manager Andrew Loog Oldham outvoted them. The band’s contract with Decca Records Decca Records Record labels;Decca had expired in February, and the leverage of the hit single allowed their new business manager, Allen Klein Klein, Allen , and Oldham to negotiate a lucrative long-term contract. While their first three albums had fared relatively poorly in America, the American release of Out of Our Heads in July was an immediate success, and the album quickly went gold.


The evolution of the Rolling Stones from a resourceful cover band to important original songwriters on Out of Our Heads had a decisive impact on a generation of younger rock musicians and on the musical tastes of the popular audience. The Rolling Stones had begun by playing the music of black artists who had often been unable to cross over to be successful on the popular music charts; in fact, the band had come under occasional criticism that they were exploiting their sources. As Jagger pointed out in refutation, they had enabled those same black artists to cross over effectively by introducing them to a mass audience, in effect repaying the debt of influence.

Perhaps the most striking immediate examples of this reversal of influence were the covers of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by soul artists. On Out of Our Heads, the Rolling Stones had covered two songs Otis Redding Redding, Otis had recorded; a year later, Redding proved the viability of the band’s own fusion of soul and rock by reaching the charts with his own version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which Aretha Franklin also successfully covered. The Rolling Stones’ success in creating mainstream acceptance of traditionally black music paved the way for other blues-based groups, notably the Doors, Cream, and, later, Led Zeppelin, and for innovative black artists such as Jimi Hendrix, who found his mass audience in white rock-and-roll fans.

The band’s debt to blues and rhythm-and-blues music can easily be exaggerated, of course, and the album’s innovative elements were probably as influential as its roots in traditional forms. While much of the album is conservative musically, it broke with convention lyrically. The narrator of the covered songs is always a suitor, either serious, pleading with his romantic interest to have mercy on him (“Mercy Mercy”) and emphasizing his sincerity and depth of feeling for her (“That’s How Strong My Love Is,” “Cry to Me”), or else with self-deprecating humor recounting his many difficulties in pursuing the elusive, and perhaps not overly interested, woman of his dreams (“Hitch Hike”).

The persona developed on the original songs is diametrically different, and the Rolling Stones reshaped the rock-and-roll love song into something less sentimental. “The Last Time” and “Play with Fire” are both warnings to a woman that the relationship with the singer will proceed on his terms or not at all, and “The Spider and the Fly” "Spider and the Fly, The" (Jagger and Richards)[Spider and the Fly, The] narrates a pseudoautobiographical tale of casual sex on the road. The male protagonist has the upper hand over the female addressed, and the songs have gone from pleas to threats, from submission to dominance. The undercurrent of misogyny implicit here seems obvious in retrospect, and it would become more evident in such later songs as “Stupid Girl” and “Under My Thumb,” but the antifeminist stance attracted very little attention at the time. Instead, the attitude of defiance and independence was what struck contemporary audiences.

The band’s rebellious persona took on more generalized targets in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which railed against the vapidity of consumer society, and this vein of political protest would be more fully developed and explored in such subsequent songs as “Street Fighting Man” and “Sympathy for the Devil,” which became activist anthems in the latter part of the 1960’s. A version of this aggressively antisocial image would later prove potent for the Sex Pistols and other punk-rock bands.

Out of Our Heads was also an early example of the integrated “concept album,” unified by sound, style, and theme and meant to be played as an album rather than as a collection of unrelated singles. In America particularly, the trend had been to buy albums merely to hear the singles, and the bulk of a typical album would be little more than cover versions put in as filler. The cover versions of soul songs in Out of Our Heads, however, were integral to the album and in fact provided the context within which the new sound of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” described as “blues words with a soul sound in a rock song,” could be fully understood and appreciated.

Eight of the album’s twelve cuts were recorded in a four-day period, which contributed further to the unity of effect. Some early reviews missed this point, finding the overall sound “samey” rather than focused, but the trend toward album-oriented radio play and record sales continued throughout the next decade, confirming the wisdom of the band’s decision to forge a distinctive musical identity rather than search for variety or follow trends. These early concept albums would lead to such tightly unified works as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks (1968) and eventually to the genre of the “rock opera,” typified by the Who’s Tommy (1968).

Out of Our Heads, in retrospect, established the Rolling Stones as one of the seminal influences on the course of rock music. Just as Bob Dylan had broadened and deepened rock music by bringing folk music and more introspective lyrics within its range, and the Beatles had created a distinctive rock version of contemporary pop music, the Rolling Stones were the most important group working to incorporate blues and soul music into the rock mainstream. The success of these early innovators in establishing the broadest possible definition of rock music has been undoubtedly one of the major reasons for the genre’s longevity and popularity. Rolling Stones Out of Our Heads (Rolling Stones) Music;rock Rock and roll British Invasion

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Dalton, David. The Rolling Stones: The First Twenty Years. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981. In an indispensable book on the subject, Dalton has attempted to pinpoint the activities and whereabouts of the Rolling Stones virtually day by day from 1962 to 1981 by assembling and excerpting thousands of newspaper and periodical accounts in chronological order. An oversized book with some three hundred photographs. Contains a valuable “Sessionography” that documents all of the Rolling Stones’ work in the recording studio.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Davis, Stephen. Old Gods Almost Dead: The Forty-Year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. Biography of the band by a rock journalist who covered them for decades. Bibliographic references and index.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Herbst, Peter, ed. The Rolling Stone Interviews: Talking with the Legends of Rock and Roll, 1967-1980. New York: Rolling Stone Press, 1981. Contains two interviews with Mick Jagger (1968, 1978) and one with Keith Richards (1971). The two earlier interviews include extended discussions of the band’s early musical influences from blues and soul music, give biographical information on the period of Out of Our Heads, and detail the circumstances of the writing of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Photographs.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Palmer, Robert. The Rolling Stones. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983. An oversized book featuring more than 160 photographs, including a photograph of Jagger and Richards in the studio working on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and an outtake from the photo session that produced the cover for Out of Our Heads. Contains informative biographical and critical commentary, quotations from song lyrics, and selective bibliography and discography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ward, Ed, Geoffrey Stokes, and Ken Tucker. Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press, 1986. Contains a total of some fifty pages concerning the career of the Rolling Stones through the middle 1980’s; although the material is spread throughout the book, which is written in chronological order, the index is relatively (though not completely) accurate, and the chronological format functions to provide valuable context for the material on the Rolling Stones. Brief but informative discussion of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and Out of Our Heads. Photographs.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wyman, Bill, with Richard Havers. Rolling with the Stones. New York: DK, 2002. A loosely chronological history of the group by the band’s bass player. More space is given to personalities and gossip than to the music, but the book still presents worthwhile inside information. The various appendixes are extremely valuable and include copies of the original contracts signed with Klein in 1965 and lists of recordings, concerts, and media appearances through 1969. Several good photographs, inadequate index.

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Categories: History