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"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a song by English rock and roll band The Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1968. Called "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London" by Rolling Stone, the song is seen as the band's return to their blues roots after the psychedelia of their preceding albums Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. One of the group's most popular and recognizable songs, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" has been featured in many films and on the Rolling Stones compilation albums Through the Past, Darkly , Hot Rocks, Singles Collection and Forty Licks .

Inspiration and recording

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on "Jumpin' Jack Flash" began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968 (although it was not released on that album). Regarding the song's distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:

Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack - that's jumpin' Jack." The rest of the lyrics evolved from there.

Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone that the song arose "...out of all the acid of Satanic Majesties... It's about having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things."In his autobiography, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman has claimed that he came up with the song's distinctive main guitar riff on an organ without being credited for it.

On the studio version of the number, Richards played the bass and floor tom as well as acoustic and electric guitar. Jagger provided the lead vocals and maracas, Brian Jones played electric guitar (though some sources list his contribution as acoustic guitar or tambura), Charlie Watts was on drums and Bill Wyman was on organ. Either Nicky Hopkins or Ian Stewart contributed piano, and producer Jimmy Miller joined in on the backing vocals.

Release and aftermath

Released on 24 May 1968, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (backed with "Child of the Moon") reached the top of the UK charts and peaked at number three in the United States. Some early London Records USA pressings of the single had a technical flaw in them: about halfway through the song's instrumental bridge, the speed of the master tape slows down for a moment, then comes back to speed. The first Rolling Stones album on which the song appeared was their 1969 compilation album, Through the Past, Darkly , one year after the single was released.

The Rolling Stones have played "Jumpin' Jack Flash" during every tour since its release; it ranks as the number the band has played in concert most frequently, and has appeared on the concert albums Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, Love You Live, Flashpoint, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (featuring the only released live performance of the song with Brian Jones, though he is inaudible in the released mix), and Shine a Light. The intro is not usually played in concert; instead the song begins with the main riff. The open E or open D tuning of the rhythm guitar on the studio recording has also not been replicated in concert (with the possible exception of the 1968 NME awards show, no recording of which has ever surfaced). In the performance filmed for The Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus in December 1968, Richards used standard tuning; and ever since the band's appearance at Hyde Parkmarker on 5 July 1969, he has played it in open G tuning with a capo on the fourth fret.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Jumpin' Jack Flash" at number 2 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song 124th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. VH1 placed it at 65 on its show 100 Greatest Rock Songs.


Use in film

In 1986, the song's title was used for the Whoopi Goldberg film Jumpin' Jack Flash. In addition to the Rolling Stones' version of the song, the film features Aretha Franklin's cover version, which was produced by Keith Richards. Ronnie Wood and Richards play guitar on the recording.

The song was also featured in Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973), in Ron Howard's Night Shift and at the end of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In 2009, the song was included (anachronistically) in the film The Boat That Rocked.

Cover versions

A number of other artists have also performed and recorded versions of the song.

Notes and references

  1. "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Rolling Stone. 4 December 2007 (accessed 22 June 2007).
  2. A jumping jack is an old-fashioned toy - see Jumping jack .
  3. Wenner, Jann S. (1995-12-14). Cover Story: Jagger Remembers: Mick's most comprehensive interview ever. Rolling Stone, 14 December 1995. Retrieved on 2007-06-22 from

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