Flashback: Keith Richards and the Stones Light Up 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Keith Richards and the Stones Light Up ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’

In honor of Keef’s birthday, here’s the Rolling Stones ripping through their classic in 1972

Happy birthday to Keith Richards, who was born in a crossfire hurricane on this date back in 1943. In celebration, treat yourself to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Number 125 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and even more of a gas, gas, gas in this amazing live version from 1972.

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released in 1968, got its original sound from Richards messing around with recording an acoustic guitar through a tape recorder, overloading it to the point where the guitar sounded like the end of the world – the same trick he used on “Street Fighting Man.” This performance, recorded live in Texas four years later, featured Nicky Hopkins hammering on the piano, Mick Taylor delivering a ridiculously hot guitar solo and Mick Jagger dancing like the crowd was shooting at his feet. Richards himself, in an unbuttoned satin shirt, is the center of the band (as always), locking eyes with drummer Charlie Watts and losing himself in the music. Clustered tight together on a low stage, the Stones played the song like they had nothing to lose but something to prove.

This performance was captured for the concert film Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, which got a limited release two years later and then was largely unavailable until 2010. (The clip features an obvious edit at the very end, when Jagger magically changes from a black jumpsuit to a white jumpsuit.) The 1972 Stones tour, supporting the release of Exile on Main St., was arguably the greatest in rock history, especially when you consider that the opening act was Stevie Wonder.

“When you get a riff like ‘Flash’ you get a great feeling of elation, a wicked glee,” Richards said in his 2010 autobiography Life. “[If] someone said ‘You can play only one of your riffs ever again,’ I’d say, ‘OK, give me ‘Flash.’…It’s almost Arabic or very old, archaic, classical, the chord setups you could only hear in Gregorian chants or something like that. And it’s that weird mixture of your actual rock & roll and at the same time this weird echo of very, very ancient music that you don’t even know. It’s much older than I am, and that’s unbelievable!”


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