In the fall of 1969 the Rolling Stones were in a Los Angeles recording studio, putting the final touches on their album Let it Bleed. It was a tumultuous time for the Stones. They had been struggling with the album for the better part of a year as they dealt with the personal disintegration of their founder and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones, whose drug addiction and personality problems had reached a critical stage. Jones was fired from the band in June of that year. He died less than a month later. And although the Stones couldn’t have known it at the time, the year would end on another catastrophic note, as violence broke out at the notorious Altamont Free Concert just a day after Let it Bleed was released.
It was also a grim time around the world. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the Tet Offensive, the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring–all of these were recent memories. Not surprisingly, Let it Bleed was not the most cheerful of albums. As Stephen Davis writes in his book Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones, “No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era.”
And no song on Let it Bleed articulates this dread with greater force than the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter,” in which Mick Jagger sings of a fire “sweepin’ our very street today,” like a “Mad bull lost his way.”
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
In an interview last November with Melissa Block for the NPR program All Things Considered, Jagger talked about those lyrics, and the making of the song:
One of the most striking moments in the interview is when Jagger describes the circumstances surrounding soul singer Merry Clayton’s powerful background vocals. “When we got to Los Angeles and we were mixing it, we thought, ‘Well, it’d be great to have a woman come and do the rape/murder verse,’ or chorus or whatever you want to call it,” said Jagger. “We randomly phoned up this poor lady in the middle of the night, and she arrived in her curlers and proceeded to do that in one or two takes, which is pretty amazing. She came in and knocked off this rather odd lyric. It’s not the sort of lyric you give anyone–‘Rape, murder/It’s just a shot away’–but she really got into it, as you can hear on the record.”
The daughter of a Baptist minister, Merry Clayton grew up singing in her father’s church in New Orleans. She made her professional debut at age 14, recording a duet with Bobby Darin. She went on to work with The Supremes, Elvis Presley and many others, and was a member of Ray Charles’s group of backing singers, The Raelettes. She is one of the singers featured in the new documentary film, 20 Feet From Stardom. In an interview last week with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Clayton talked about the night she was asked to sing on “Gimme Shelter”:
Well, I’m at home at about 12–I’d say about 11:30, almost 12 o’clock at night. And I’m hunkered down in my bed with my husband, very pregnant, and we got a call from a dear friend of mine and producer named Jack Nitzsche. Jack Nitzsche called and said you know, Merry, are you busy? I said No, I’m in bed. he says, well, you know, There are some guys in town from England. And they need someone to come and sing a duet with them, but I can’t get anybody to do it. Could you come? He said I really think this would be something good for you.
At that point, Clayton recalled, her husband took the phone out of her hand and said, “Man, what is going on? This time of night you’re calling Merry to do a session? You know she’s pregnant.” Nitzsche explained the situation, and just as Clayton was drifting back to sleep her husband nudged her and said, “Honey, you know, you really should go and do this date.” Clayton had no idea who the Rolling Stones were. When she arrived at the studio, Keith Richards was there and explained what he wanted her to do.
I said, Well, play the track. It’s late. I’d love to get back home. So they play the track and tell me that I’m going to sing–this is what you’re going to sing: Oh, children, it’s just a shot away. It had the lyrics for me. I said, Well, that’s cool. So I did the first part, and we got down to the rape, murder part. And I said, Why am I singing rape, murder? …So they told me the gist of what the lyrics were, and I said Oh, okay, that’s cool. So then I had to sit on a stool because I was a little heavy in my belly. I mean, it was a sight to behold. And we got through it. And then we went in the booth to listen, and I saw them hooting and hollering while I was singing, but I didn’t know what they were hooting and hollering about. And when I got back in the booth and listened, I said, Ooh, that’s really nice. They said, well, You want to do another? I said, well, I’ll do one more, I said and then I’m going to have to say thank you and good night. I did one more, and then I did one more. So it was three times I did it, and then I was gone. The next thing I know, that’s history.
Clayton sang with such emotional force that her voice cracked. (“I was just grateful that the crack was in tune,” she told Gross.) In the isolated vocal track above, you can hear the others in the studio shouting in amazement. Despite giving what would become the most famous performance of her career, it turned out to be a tragic night for Clayton. Shortly after leaving the studio, she lost her baby in a miscarriage. It has generally been assumed that the stress from the emotional intensity of her performance and the lateness of the hour caused the miscarriage. For many years Clayton found the song too painful to hear, let alone sing. “That was a dark, dark period for me,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1986, “but God gave me the strength to overcome it. I turned it around. I took it as life, love and energy and directed it in another direction, so it doesn’t really bother me to sing ‘Gimme Shelter’ now. Life is short as it is and I can’t live on yesterday.”
Kurt Cobain’s Isolated Vocal Track From ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ 1991
Listen to Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on the Isolated Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pressure,’ 1981
The Rolling Stones Live in Hyde Park, 1969: The Complete Film
FWIW, I think Jack spells his name Nitzsche.
Thank you Paul. I got the spelling from the NPR transcript, but I should have known better. I’ve made the correction.
wow what an incredible story. so sorry about the sad ending. you either get on the Rolling Stones train or get run over by it. this time It was a combination of both. I wish the best for ms Clayton.
Merry Clayton and I were in Mr Cabellero’s Music Appreciation and Choir Classes together at Jefferson High School when they had the 9th grade included I sung 2nd Soprano she stood out then I believe you song Alto because Arthur Burgess (Quarterback)sat next to you or a couple of seats away. I remember you having a good and strong voice, my thought was she may really make it as a singer. I am a couple of years older than you if you were born in 1948, I have followed you career somewhat and smile when I see you remembering choir and how your appearances have not changed from the young teen til today in umteen years!! It would be great to communicate or email you if possible.
Carol (Wells) in school
Merry Clayton I have followed your career from time to time. Your voice is heaven sent. It has been a long time. Remember walking to an from school, John Adams and to the show? If you remember, please let me hear from you.
worked with the great merry clayton on the woodstock 10th anniversary tour of europe. she was with cockers band, it was a fun night that ended the tour in montreaux switzerland, early too. i was a backstge mgr, her work with bob dylan, is hopefully released some day.
hurray for mary clayton! great story and vibe here, thank you.
Mrs. Clayton’s voice is so powerful, the Stones could not have chosen anyone better to do the chorus on this song.
So tragic about her sweet baby leaving. What happened must have been a stillbirth, not a miscarriage, if she was “very” pregnant.
This story, especially with her chilling vocals behind it, gives me goosebumps, literally. It’s an incredible story, and it has me listening to this song on repeat all over again!
After listening to music for over fifty years I can say merry Clayton’s voice on this song is absolutey perfect,bar none. It was her voice that made this song what it is. Timeless
Where is the isolated vocal mentioned in the article?
I can now safely say this is my favorite Rolling Stonees song. I heard Merry’s interview on FResh Air, and I can’t wait to see the doc. Her voice is flawless.
Sisters of Mercy, better then the stones version.
Many cover versions have been made of Gimme Shelter. Some are brilliant. But Sisters of Mercy probably recorded the worst ever cover version of any song in rock history. They butchered a classic.
Greatest Rock ‘n Roll song ever recorded – and when you realize that Merry Clayton lost her child due to the incredible performance she delivers (she actually steals the song out from under Mick) it is the classic song for our generation.
please post the isolated vocal track!!
20 Feet From Stardom has an excellent segment on Clayton, and this track
I acutely remember the sense of foreboding this song emoted at the time. It was the end of the sixties and the party was ending in a drug soaked self indulgent bonfire. It is really the most iconic record of that period and still gives me the chills when listening.
You will pay for the hundreds of millions you have influenced into subconscious and conscious Satanism. Nice to know you’ll be getting what’s coming to you, there is no escape.
My God, man….i had no idea she miscarried right after the session. As a matter of fact, she all but avoids mentioning that, when she talks about that particular session. Ive never heard her speak of it..nnone thing I do know is, that take she did on it, above, where its just her voice..made the hair on my arms stand up. INCREDIBLE…
Right before we would do drug or warrant raids in the projects in chicago,6 of us armed to the teeth(including AR-15’s) would blast this in the van before we jumped out and locked up the bad guys. Rolling Stones ALWAYS good for the head and THIS tune along with Merry’s solo would put us in the right frame of mind for the task at hand…..
The soaring notes throughout most of the solo track are hair-raising enough, but the low wind-down at the end is the best 5-second tutorial of soul singing ever.
great interview…but you should know better then to ask Mick his age…he never liked that question..lol
I remember that time very vividly. It was an amazing thing that we even got through it. Mick was a god to me and I’m not a religious person but if I was, I might think he was that “other” powerful god. It seemed like nothing but evil and dark things surrounded the Stones for years and I’m so glad they pulled through it. I’m known for prog metal but my roots and my heart will always be “Rolling”. Now every time I see the Stones live and I’ve seen almost every show when they are in town,the minute they start playing “Sympathy for the Devil” it all plays again in my head like a horror film..Altamont,VietNam,M.L.King,John and Robert Kennedy, and my own demons,and I know what Mick is thinking. Talk about “being in character” for a song. Mick nails it every time.
Serif this posts
@ carol wells..wow u both knew her at different schools . Feel bad u both trying to contact her.what if she doesn’t see this site or does not read comments ?
I tried to find her contact info for u..one is crackpot site. Think your best bet for now is I Reed Man .com ..he has contact section ..u give your email. Or try his facebook : I Reedman and Merry Clayton . He is saxophonist Joel C Peskin who did her re-newed version of Gimme Shlter.not too long ago.
Maybe just say u went to school n want to re connect . Or could say u want to book and couldn’t find her agent ( I found 3 rd party bookers..not her real agent.) Maybe she’s on facebook..but it might not really be her …some sites in celebrities’ names of course r by fans . Good luck..hope u do get to chat w her .
I can remember first time I heard Gimme Shelter..like most of us ,it was the haunting opening and then her voice that made the song so awesome in the true sense of the word..(look it up ..does not mean wonderful) .
She comments on how she hated singing on Sweet Home Alabama because she knew it was anything but. She says she could barely hide her contempt. This how truly powerful and EXPRESSIVE her voice : I always thought there was a crazy ,frenzied quality to how one of the female singers screamed ” Alabama ,aaa ,Alabama,AAA,AAA.” Listen to it ..u will hear what she’s trying to convey ..the ” Alabama Hell No ! ” and its past horrors against blacks comes through..u will feel it in your guts..the frenzy of one being beaten or lynched . U will feel their terror ..which she has embodied vocally . Play it. She is a genius w her voice .
Her voice cracks on the third “murder” of her solo after the instrumental bridge. Easy enough to hear if you pay attention. Makes the solo EVEN MORE POWERFUL! You can hear it on the recording on this site.
Merry Clayton, you have been a ghost in my life until now. What incredible talent …. but so much more. Ripping your guts out! Just ripping your guts out on the very first takes, with strangers, your own fragility waived. Haunted me for 50 years or more. Let the cry go on!
I would greatly appreciate any info of whether the Merry Clayton version,with Mick , gimme shelter is on any dvd, out there and can be bought,covering that concert,if not is there a cd with that song on it
I love Merry Clayton and I’m so glad to read her receiving recognition but honestly, singing with intensity at a very late hour does not cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Come On now. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need abortion clinics would we? She experienced a tragedy, it’s true, but don’t blame her or the Rolling Stones for the loss of that baby. She simply miscarried.
It’s amazing to me as an African-American how many African-American singers are so totally clueless when it comes to major artists in other musical genres.
How could Merry Clayton not know who the Rolling Stones were in 1969, 4 years after “Satisfaction” was the biggest song in the country, and had even become an R&B hit by Wilson Pickett.
Plus they had been on “The Ed Sullivan Show” several times and had and other big hits like “Last Time,” “Under My Thumb,” etc.
You don’t have to like their music, but it’s pretty ignorant for an African American professional musician to not know who Taylor Swift or Paul McCartney is.
I’m sure she’s embellishing the story when she claims not to have known who the Stones were. It just makes the backstory better.
She must have known, she’s a New Orleans girl singing for Ray Charles while the Brit were cutting classic blues songs. But that pregnant? Might have been the hormones and memory. It happens.
So much death swirling around the Stones that year. Brian Jones drowns after being kicked out of the band, Merry Clayton miscarries hours after recording her amazing portion of “Gimme Shelter,” then Altamont. Let It Bleed, indeed….
Oh, man…. Her name is Merry and she was born on Christmas day 1948. That is so cool, I love it!
Just read she was in a bad car accident in June 2014! Get well soon, Merry!
You should catch 20 Feet From Stardom. The film follows the behind-the-scenes of backup singers and stars Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, and Jo Lawry, Merry Clayton, among many others. It covers Merry’s middle of the night call – great story.
Look at the music made during that time, and in most turbulent times since then. Now ? Nothing. Not in the mainstream anyway.
Turbulent people in turbulent time made wonderfull music.
Go Mary Go.
Great interview and great song, I’m happy I have the time to listen to such things now . J
Kudos to Mick for not being threatened at sharing the vocals.
Owned the record. Heard it 100 times, 200 times? I never knew they were singing “Murder, rape”.
Kudos to Keith/Mick for letting her upstage the lyrics.
I bet she had seen plenty on those tours with Ray Charles etc, something was in that performance besides the words scribbled down.
If those isolated vocals don’t chill you to the bone, nothing will.
At about 3.02 her voice breaks on the word ‘murder’, and about a second later you can someone (presumably one of the Stones) shout ‘woo!’
I hope the irony of this isn’t lost of you, although I’m more than sure that it is.
“…we randomly phoned up this poor lady in the middle of the night.”
Seriously, you f*cking narcisstic ingrate? Her name is Merry Clayton, and you oughta pay some respect, because if it weren’t for her, this song would just be another entry in your uneven catalogue.
How predictable and how disgusting is it that you
can’t even give her credit? Probably because deep down, you know the same thing that we all do: It’s your best song only because she’s the one who brings it home. Not you.
My condolences, Ms. Clayton, for the sorrow that followed. I know it’s cold comfort, but in this song, you achieved what very few artists have been able to do: You chilled us to the bone with the stark truth of who we are and what we face.
Shakespeare comes to mind. Beckett comes to mind. And so does your singing on this song.
Jagger? He gives a good show, doesn’t he? But, so what?
Doing gun runs sitting in the door of a UH-1B in RVN in 1970 with this song on the IC mad the whole experience indelible.
So WELL SAID, Velaphi!
@Mark Haaseth:/ I’m so sorry to have to tell your so very off base with your comment. Tere’s NOBODY…up to this day, (4/23/2015), that’s ever done this song better then the STONES.Sorry guy!
As has been commented, the miscarriage following the gig is news. I’d already been amazed at the strength of the ladies depicted in ‘Twenty Feet from Stardom’ – how do you all get through.
What an amazing story indeed. And the music of the Stones will never fade away! Cheers!
I remember the very first time I heard this song, I said to myself “who the heck is THAT !?!?!?!” Yes Merry Clayton SERIOUSLY impressed me with her singing, emotions, enthusiasm and talent!! I think it is safe to say that (figuratively speaking) her performance put this song on the MAP!!! I see that someone compared her performance to Shakespeare and that is not an overstatement. If I might make my own comparison, if this were art, Merry Clayton’s performance would be the Mona Lisa. Great work Merry!!
too funny …. I always thought and heard the lyrics as … oh chillin’ he took the shine away, he took the shine away …. lol
that’s the thing about rock lyrics … they are rarely clear and often misheard.
i’ve heard “Gimme Shelter” hundreds of times. I’m less than a year younger than Ms. Clayton. Today, I heard it on the radio and was struck that I didn’t know who that incredible voice belonged to, so I researched it. Wow, what a story, what a lady!
I am awe-inspired by a woman who shows up in a studio to find out the gig is THE ROLLING STONES, performs something epic and defines to them that she really needs to get home and sleep. 68, 69, 70, in addition to assassinations and Prague were Mi Lai, Kent State and the ripping sound of the fabric of social cohesion. That era is misremembered now as something like “disrespecting the troops”. It was SDS, Weather Underground, Black Panther Party, Chicago 7 and Catonsville 9. I entered college the year Gimme Shelter was released. We all felt the storm rising and the moral conflicts and the disillusionments. For giving voice to all this Merry Clayton deserves our homage.
Great story! Merry Clayton is/was amazing. As others have noted, the movie “20 Feet from Stardom” is phenomenal. And the story about “Gimmee Shelter” is there.
Another great Stones tale is the one about “Torn ‘n’ Frayed.” The genesis of the line “Joe’s got a cough” is in the book “Walk, Don’t Run” by Steven Jae Johnson (link: http://amzn.to/1W5fxOr). Check it out. The short of it is that Mick wrote the lines on the spot about the recording engineer Joey Zagarino.
My sincerest condolences to Merry, I just read that she lost her baby after that session. I performed her solo many times in a Stones cover band, when I watched the videos I could see the major arteries in my neck swelling from the sheer force that’s needed to hit those notes like she did. I thought I might give myself an aneurysm, I don’t think most non singers realize how much of a physical toll some songs can take. Merry’s performance is one of the most powerful vocal pieces ever recorded.
Well, the story gets sadder. I just read Merry had both legs amputated last year after a car accident. How sad…
I was always so jealous of Merry’s voice. I still get chills listening to her, more than 40 years later. Incredible, and so sad that such an iconic piece of music is attached to such a tragedy.
i’d just like to know if the stones ever even paid her for her work for them.
Yes its EVEN MORE POWERFUL!!!! It has 10 TIMES the POWER. ITS OXYCLEAN POWER!!!
What the hell are you talking about? Ripping her guts out on the first take? Like its somehow a better track bc she lost the baby? Let the cry go on???? What are you babbling about?
Are we really to believe that in the fall of 1969, Merry Clayton “had no idea who the Rolling Stones were…”? I mean, really? She was in the business but had no idea who the Stones were? Doh!
Just read in December Jazz Times that fantastic vocalist Merry Clayton lost both legs in a car accident .How tragic .She had just received an award for her part in the outstanding Doco 20 Feet From Stardom. Congratulations and
How do I subscribe 2 ‘open culture’???
You have to BELIEVE in ‘Satan’ or some such imaginary being before you can start influencing anyone and I have never seen any evidence that any of the Stones past or present ever seriously believed in ‘Satan’, satanic worship or any such thing despite passing references in their music.
Go get a real life. No-one is worried about their eternal future as a result of listening to the Stones except you and your sad and pathetic god botherers
Hey velaphi mamba you ignoramus, mick’ s supposed to know who Merry Clayton is? In 1969 Mick and Keith were approaching the crest of the greatest 10 year run if songwriting in the 20th century. Yet, you take umbrage with Jagger not knowing who she was? Do you find it curious she doesn’t know who the Stones were. Stop being a dummy…. She was a pregnant background singer…. They were the
World’s greatest rock and roll band. She did a great job but without mick and Keith’s genius you never heard of merry Clayton. Now apologize to to mick and Keith, douchebag.
I heard “Gimme Shelter” for the first time while waiting for my baby outside her house. I had the radio on (of course) in my mom’s ’64 Bonneville ragtop. The intro alone froze me. Then, Merry’s vocals on the chorus blew me away. I wasn’t even 16 yet, but that moment in time will live until I die.
It’s the very top video.
It was Emmaretta Marks who Created the Iconic Intro of Gimmie Shelter and Sang it, it is also Emmaretta Marks who screams those famous “Rape Murder” Lines and she knew of what she was singing..
Later London Records had Merry Clayton sing over Emmaretta’s Tracks, but even live if you look for videos Merry avoids attempting Emmaretta’s vocal intro..
When CD’s came out as Emmaretta sang 5 Tracks on Gimmie Shelter, the engineers not knowing turned up Emmaretta’s tracks as they are the best female vocal tracks..
Emmaretta had been dating Keith when they brought her into the studio after they had all been crashing and partying at Stephen Stills house in the L.A. area..
It’s Emmaretta you hear singing Gimmie Shelter there are some sections of Merry Clayton’s vocals in there too but the famous Vocal Virtuosity you are hearing is Emmaretta Marks who sang back up with many others including Jimi Hendrix..
It’s Emmaretta Marks, Not Merry Clayton, you’ve been hearing all these years, and she never got credit or paid anything for this famous contribution to Rock n Roll History.!
like they couldn’t wait till next day. she had a miscarriage of her baby because of that middle of the night getting up and going down to recording studio. i like the stones but i hate jagger. jagger never talks about her. i bet she sued them as she should, and got a little money. i bet she hardly got much money for the singing session. she is one of the greates.
Oh yeah, you know why Mick Taylor has played as a guest from 2012 to about 2014? it was part of settlement for the million dollars jagger owed him. jagger also ripped off the stones logo(mouth and tongue hanging out) for peanuts from an artist. artist never got any royalties. if you are any kind of artist, writer, have an idea for a movie, etc get it copywrited before you sell it or send it off for perusal . and with the copyright specify that further than one time use, the artist must get a percentage or royalty for any further useage.
Poor Merry Clayton has had a tough life. It hasn’t just been a miscarriage but a life of raw deals.
I just hope she feels loved. Gimme Shelter was a magic track because of her. Her voice helps make it what it is. I just hope life cuts her a few good deals before the end, she’s had it too tough but then so do lots of others. Wishing everyone better days.
I don’t know if Merry Clayton visits pages like this on the internet. But I hope my words join the chorus of hearts and souls found on pages like this site:
The whole reason I care about this song is simply because I heard Merry’s delivery of these vocals. This song of great meaning was thrust into background/setting music typical of modern television… Because some people can callously call such a work of art a good prop for their drama.
Merry, I don’t think we will ever meet.
Merry, I fear you’ll never see these words.
Merry, I fear the time for too many great folk comes after their passing.
And that’s why, so long after you sang these vocals, I heard about you and your child. I pray this story lives on in the gift you and your family gave the world through The Rolling Stones. I pray it continues to change the world like it did for me today.
I was about 16 when I first heard Merry sing on Gimme Shelter, I wondered all my life who she was. I am now 61 and have just found out that she sang those famous lyrics. I cant stop listening to the isolated track. It is out of this frickin world and gives me joy each time I hear it. I have shared it a hundred times to friends.
What a story! Thank God for you and your many sacrifices over the years. You are loved.
Perfect example,pain becoming art…recycled
If the group knew of her loss, they should have waited a couple of years. It’s normal to grieve a year. Her womb was the baby’s shelter. After a year or two, they should have re-approached her to re-record, and then mass distributed the art. They should have respected her grief, especially since the song was supposedly sensitive to human needs in time of crisis. They put a price on her dignity and sold it. They negated the song’s message.
Wow. What a story! For what it’s worth, it’s unlikely the performance caused the miscarriage. It would’ve happened either way. I say that after asking a doctor too. It’s really really sad… but I hope we don’t add that bit for theatre here to the story. It’s just coincidence and I’m sure a reminder to her given the timing. The story is amazing enough without that bit.
Sad to have the loss of a child. I’ve worked during pregnancy as most women today. Hard to blame the loss on working that historic recording. Something’s just happen. Sad.
Is it not extraordinary that Anita Pallenberg (whom apparently helped to write ‘Gimme Shelter’) died on the same day as the fire at Grenfell Towers? Does part of the lyric describe a fire sweeping through to people’s homes?
Are you serious? This song is historic & virtuous. You are blinded by your hateful ‘Fire & Brimstone’ self-indulgent judgment of others without wont or need. Instead of alarming anyone you come off like a blithering idiot.. .
I’ve heard so many people say the same thing. The truth is many people do not know these cutting wonderful lyrics. When people think of Mick Jagger they usually think of his captivating stage performance rife with infinite stamina, however, Jagger & Keith Richards were great song writers as well as performers.
I so agree with this powerful statement. This song has taken on new life for me after reading this story. God bless you Merry!!
You mean Mick and Keith influencing kids into Satanism? I think any normal person would sluff it off as just another religion.
Keep Merry in your thoughts ,prayers ,good juju …that accident in 2014 cost her the amputation of both legs at the knees. She is now 69.and according to Wiki still active as a vocalist.
20 feet ahead of the Stars. Our favorite songs might be b-sides without background vocals.
A professional musician not knowing exactly who the Rolling Stones were during this period in time, would not have been unusual. Pop artists were far greater in both number and diversity back then, plus, Ms. Clayton specialized in gospel-style singing, not pop/rock, or “rhythm and blues” as it was still called back then
. The Rolling Stones were popular among teens and some young twenty-somethings, but nowhere near as widely popular across many demographics as they became, just a few years later. At that point, they were viewed as cheeky and rough young upstarts from across the pond, upsetting the American pop musical apple cart. Plus, it was a different era for pop music and all music. Can’t measure it by current standards. I miss being able to turn on the radio, and with a few clicks of the dial, hear a huge variety of musical genres and many diverse sounding artists, played one right behind the other. One could hear James Brown, followed by Frank Sinatra, followed by the Doors, followed by the Rolling Stones, followed by Stevie Wonder, followed by James Taylor, Ray Charles….and in between, a whole bunch of forgettable and mediocre crap. Sadly, a group like the Rolling Stones, if emerging today, would not garner much airplay and would have a tough time catching on.
Easily my favorite female vocal performance of all time, you can tell she held absolutely nothing back, I get emotional every time I hear it.
I strongly doubt that the miscarriage had anything to do with her singing on this song. Pregnancies are not that fragile and women don’t lose babies from one episode of strong emotion or because they stay up too late one night. If this really happened, there would be very few babies born.
Wow, two days before my 11th birthday, that song hit me and I thought lyrics were , IT’S JUST A SHADOW WAVE, They say you lean something everyday, and I learned more today. Just was so happy that I got to yell Keith at SBC in SF the concert was great!God Bless Mary ,God has blessed the Stones may he keep blessing them.
I am now 71 and Merry’s voice still gives me chills when I hear Gimme Shelter. This song wold be nothing without your powerful voice and the feelings you transmit. God bless you. I am so sorry about your miscarriage. You have a voice meant to compel the true feelings of the song.
Better late than never… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njAuEGRthuw