Stones work at getting satisfaction

Words By: Roland Ellis | May 8th, 1965

Stones work at getting satisfaction

May 6, 1965 - Keith Richards began working on The Rolling Stones’ biggest hit to date, "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction".

Well, maybe “working” is the wrong word. As Richards later told the story, the guitar riff came to him one night when he was drifting off to sleep in a Florida hotel room, at which point he had the presence of mind to take up his guitar and press record on the dictophone beside his bed. When he listened back to the tape the following morning, there was roughly two minutes of guitar playing and then forty minutes of him snoring before the tape expired.

Always take note of those quick flashes of inspiration, even if they come when you’re in a drunken stupor on the verge of passing out...

In that two minutes of guitar playing was the backbone of the "Satisfaction" riff.

There’s one hell of a lesson here for the aspiring writers amongst you: always take note of those quick flashes of inspiration, even if they come when you’re in a drunken stupor on the verge of passing out. True, you might wake up to a total pile of crap—see the Seinfeld episode where Jerry makes a half-conscious note of a potential ‘bit’, only to wake the next morning to the ramblings of an insane person scribbled on a piece of paper. But you also might just jot down the beginnings of work tantamount to genius.

The Stones first recorded the track four days later at Chess Studios in Chicago. “Satisfaction” was then re-recorded on May 12 at RCA Studios in Hollywood. The later version featured a different beat, new lyrics, and a Gibson Maestro fuzzbox guitar effect that added both sustain and crunch to the lead sound.

Stones work at getting satisfaction

Both Richards and Jagger envisioned re-working the song again using a horn section as the predominant instrumental melody. In fact, Richards said of the fuzzbox guitar sound—now regarded as one of the central attributes of the track—that it was just a place holder: “It was there to denote what the horns would be doing”. As it turned out, however, the other members of the group, along with producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham, outvoted Jagger and Richards, leading to the release of the RCA version as a single.

By the end of 1965, the Gibson fuzzbox, which had previously made only rare appearances on recorded music, had completely sold out of stock worldwide. The fuzzbox led “Satisfaction” had gone to number one in the UK, as well as topping the billboard charts in the US (the Stones’ first US number one). As Jagger later put it, “It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band.”

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