Arty-Facts: The Rolling Stones Breakout Song Was a Drunken Mishap

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“Deh dehhh, de ne deh, d-deh deh,” is one of classic rock’s most recognizable guitar riffs, despite the fact it was intended to be a horn section blaring it. And despite the fact it was almost forgotten about.

Story goes that Keith Richards was exceptionally drunk in a Florida Hotel the night he wrote that riff. He was just fooling around with his guitar for fun, the riff came out, and the rock gods compelled him to stumble for what was essentially a walkman to record it. Come morning, he’d forgotten all about it.

The next time he picked up the recorder, he was surprised by what he heard: 2 minutes of what would become “Satisfaction,” and 40 minutes of Richards snoring after having passed out.

The ensuing song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” went on to become the band’s first #1 hit in the USA. It was put on tape for their 4th album, Out of Our Heads, in 1965.

Given that on the surface it appears to be a racy song about sexual frustration, it took longer for the song to reach #1 in the UK. Initially only pirate radio stations in the UK would touch it, but in the end everyone caved and started airing it, for fear of losing listeners to the pirate stations who were playing what the people wanted to hear.

Initially, Richards felt the riff would make for a cool horn intro, but, the recording history steamrolled that idea. The song was initially recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago (this original version had Brian Jones on harmonica), but the song was re-recorded 2 days later in RCA Studios, Hollywood, with the most noticeable difference being the beat and the wack of sustain added to the guitar riff, courtesy of a Gibson Maestro fuzzbox.

The Maestro Fuzzbox’s intention was only to mimic the fullness of horns – Richards and Jagger wanted the guitar to eventually be replaced by horns – but the rest of the band backed the producers in vetoing Richards and Jagger, and it was left as a guitar riff. A riff that sent sales of Gibson’s fuzzbox through the roof.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, this song that almost never was, is the second best song of all time. It made Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Songs of All Time, sitting pretty at #2. In 1965, it went down in the Billboard charts as the #3 song of the year, and ultimately granted the band their first American gold record.

“It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band … and it captures a spirit of the times, which is very important in those kinds of songs..” – Mick Jagger

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ArtyFacts

The ArtyFacts series shares the story of how various iconic songs, books, films, or pieces of art came to be. It is one of a handful of Overcast columns that take a look at things not related to NL.

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