The Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black” peaks to No.1 in 1966

The song was one of the first the Stones developed during their experimental phase

The Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black” peaks to No.1 in 1966

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with an important contribution from Brian Jones to the development of the song’s distinct sound, “Paint It, Black”, by the Rolling Stones, was first released on 6 May 1966 in the US and on 13 May 1966 in the U.K.The song reached number one in both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. On May 26 it peaked to No.1 at the UK singles charts and shortly after on June 11, also tops the US Hot 100 where it stays for two weeks. According to Keith Richards, the song was originally titled “Paint It Black”, however, their label Decca released the single including a comma between “it” and “black”. Since its initial release, the song has remained influential as the first number one hit featuring a sitar, particularly in the U.K. Lyrically, for most part, the song means to describe bleakness and depression through the use of colour-based metaphors. It also describes the extreme grief suffered by one stunned by the sudden and unexpected loss of wife, lover or partner. It is often claimed that Mick Jagger took inspiration from novelist James Joyce’s 1922 book, “Ulysses”, taking the excerpt, “I have to turn my head until my darkness goes”, referring to the novel’s theme of a worldwide view of desperation and desolation. “Paint It, Black” came to fruition when the band’s leader Brian Jones took an interest in Moroccan music. It was their first song to feature a sitar instrumental and came at a pivotal period in The Rolling Stones’ recording history, a time that saw the songwriting collaboration of Jagger and Keith Richards assert itself as the principal composer of the band’s original material, but also a time where the band was daring to experiment more. The song was recorded during the “After-Math” album sessions, and was the opening track for the U.S version of the album, but in the U.K was replaced by “Mother’s Little Helper” (a song also featuring a prominent sitar riff) and released as a single only and in the 1966 greatest hit compilation “Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)”. Overshadowed by Jagger and Richards, Brian Jones grew bored with attempting to write songs and to alleviate the boredom, he started to explore eastern instruments, more specifically the sitar, to bolster the group’s musical texture and complexity. A natural multi-instrumentalist, Jones was able to develop a tune from the sitar in a short amount of time, largely due to his studies under Ravi Shankar’s disciple, Harihar Rao. This new Stones sound would become develop further in 1967 when they end up releasing the experimental “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. “Paint It, Black” remains one of The Rolling Stones most popular and memorable songs and a still a staple of their concerts. Globally, in 1966, the single was backed with the song “Long, Long While”.

Watch the Rolling Stones performing “Paint It, Black” in 1966 at The Ed Sullivan Show

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