Among the songs that made the Top 1,000 Hits of the 1960s, eight of them were by the Rolling Stones. Here’s one of their best-remembered hits, a #3 smash from 1968.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash / The Rolling Stones / London 45-LON-908
(Total points: 1,265 / Chart debut: 6/8/1968 / Chart peak: 3 / Weeks on chart: 12)
After spending a couple years experimenting with baroque and psychedelic sounds, and often accused – rightly or wrongly – of copying ideas from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones returned to good old blues-based rock ‘n’ roll with this non-album single.
The inspiration for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came from Keith Richards. Mick Jagger was staying at Richards’ country home and was awakened by a ruckus at 7 a.m., and Richards explained that it was the gardener, Jack Dyer, whom he called “jumpin’ Jack.” Immediately, the word “flash” came to them, and the two groggy Stones wrote the rest from there. The familiar riff came from Bill Wyman fooling around on an organ during a rehearsal with Brian Jones and Charlie Watts; Jagger and Richards came in and liked the sound. They promptly welded their lyrics with the music, and a classic was born.
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was recorded in one day – April 20, 1968 – in the midst of sessions for their upcoming Beggars Banquet album, though it was ultimately left off the LP. It was the first released single with their new producer, Jimmy Miller, whom Jagger recruited because he liked the work he did with the band Traffic. Miller would remain as Stones producer through 1973.
The single was released on May 24, and it debuted in the Hot 100 on June 8. It quickly became the Rolling Stones’ biggest hit in almost a year and a half as it eventually spent three weeks at #3.
Collector’s notes: Original editions have the so-called “blue swirl” London label, with alternating near-triangles in three shades of blue. Only copies that came from Columbia’s Pitman, N.J. plant have the “LON” in the middle of the catalog number. Copies that originated from Shelley Products in Huntington Station, N.Y. and from Monarch in Los Angeles have the number as “45-908.”
An edited 2:42 version of the song exists on promotional copies.
Copies from the late 1970s to early 1980s were made on the “sunrise” London label with both “5N 908” and “45-908” numbers. (The former is more common; the latter is probably an error.) Editions from the mid-1980s on were on a white London label with the upside-down maroon triangle on top; all those are “5N 908.”
All editions of this 45 give half the songwriting credit to “Keith Richard” with no S.
Some promos and some stock copies were issued with identical picture sleeves. As is true with most London-era Rolling Stones picture sleeves, the one for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is not easy to find.
Fast fact: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” has been part of every Rolling Stones tour since its release, and they have played it in concert more often than any other song.