The Rolling Stones and Mr Sullivan


In early September 1964 The Rolling Stones were touring the UK with Inez and Charlie Foxx and towards the end of this tour the band’s fourth US single was released; none of their three earlier singles had made the Top 20 in America, London Records were anxious for a break to put The Stones on the same kind of level as other British Invasion bands.

Three weeks later, on 17 October, “Time Is On My Side’ broke into the Hot 100 at No.80, one place below Herman’s Hermits. Five days later The Stones arrived at JFK to begin their second US tour and the following day, Bill Wyman’s 28th birthday, the band’s second US album, 12 X 5 came out. The single had also jumped 25 places, but they were still lagging behind Herman.
Time is on my side copy
The arrival according to The Daily Mail in New York was to be kept low-key, but was covered by DJ Ed Rudy at JFK. According to Rudy, “The Stones are different. Not only from the American groups, but even very different from their own countrymen. They are not really very neat in appearance, and one of them has been known to appear onstage in grease-stained slacks, and another customarily sings in a sweatshirt.”

Despite his comments, Rudy was important, because he worked for Radio Pulsebeat News and INS Radio News and his coverage was syndicated to hundreds of stations across the country. He reached places that The Stones had no chance of visiting on their upcoming 12 date tour of the country.

Their second day in America was certainly a busy one. They had rehearsed the previous evening for The Ed Sullivan Show and did so again in the late morning of 24 October. The following day the band went to The Ed Sullivan Show shortly after lunch to rehearse one last time before their evening appearance that was to be broadcast live. Towards the end of the first half of the show they played ‘Around and Around’ which was the opening track on side one of 12 x 5; towards the end of the show they did ‘Time Is On My Side’. It may not has been as ground breaking a moment as The Beatles appearance on Sullivan’s show 8 months earlier, but it helped change everything

Stones_edited-1“Ed told us that it was the wildest, most enthusiastic audience he'd seen any artiste get in the history of his show. We got a message from him a few days later, saying 'Received hundreds of letters from parents complaining about you, but thousands from teenagers saying how much they enjoyed your performance'. " – Mick in Rolling Stones Monthly December 1964

However, it seems Mr Sullivan may have spoken with forked tongue, or at least that's what Dennis Braithwaite wrote in The Toronto Globe and Mail in November 1964. "Ed Sullivan wrote to say that he agreed with my description of the Stones as a grubby lot, and to pledge that he won't have them back. I am bucked up by Ed's promise that 'So help me, the untidy Stones will never again darken our portals.'"

The day after their Ed Sullivan appearance The Stones flew west to Los Angeles where they played Sacramento on 26 October. The Stones played their last show of this second US Tour on 15 November at Chicago’s Arie Crown Theater, it was a sell-out and the band an amazing reception. They had cracked America well and truly. As Mick told The Melody Maker in November, “I wouldn't mind going back, provided they keep me away from those stupid questions about hair."

12 x 5 is included in The Rolling Stones in Mono Box set that you can order here

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