The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


The Rolling Stones Spend "Some Time" Together with Ed Sullivan

Thursday, October 24: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Rolling Stones' get risqué and suggest "Let's Spend the Night Together"

Tonight as part of the 18th Music Masters series of events, Alan Light will present a keynote lecture at Case Western Reserve University's Ford Auditorium that will look at the triumphs and challenges of the Rolling Stones' longevity. Light is the former Editor-in-Chief of Spin and Vibe magazines, a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and the author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” This event is free and reservations are not required.  Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The event will be live streamed here.

Although Ed Sullivan vowed never again to have the Rolling Stones on his show after their first appearance in 1964 – the same year the impressionable group of twenty somethings first landed on American shores, making a pilgrimage of sorts to Chess Records in Chicago – the popular TV host knew a ratings boom when he saw and heard it. Putting aside his resentment for the "unkempt" appearance of the Stones and the raucous audiences they attracted, Sullivan would welcome the Stones on his program five more times in the Sixties, where they'd perform 17 of their biggest hits. Among the Stones' more memorable appearences was during the January 15, 1967 episode, when the group agreed to play their suggestive new single, though with one small caveat: neither Jagger nor anybody else in the group could utter the song's title and chorus, "Let's Spend the Night Together." Instead, the lyric would be performed as "Let's spend some time together."

Released as a single in January 1967, the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, but The Ed Sullivan Show censors were not the only American media to take issue with the song, as many radio stations across the country chose to play the single's flip side, "Ruby Tuesday." The decision ultimately provided the Stones with two simultaneously charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, the Stones hardly shied away from any controversy. In fact, the Rolling Stones’ management freely played up the band’s image as “bad boys,” in contrast to the clean image presented by the Beatles, and it struck an emotional chord.

Nearly 40 years later, the Stones were still being censored, though this time in China, where government officials asked that the band not perform "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Woman," "Beast of Burden," "Rough Justice" and, again, "Let's Spend the Night Together." The request was met with typical Jagger blasé: "Fortunately, we have 400 more songs that we can play, so it's not really an issue," he was quoted as saying by the BBC days before the concert in April 2006. "I'm pleased that the Ministry of Culture [in China] is protecting the morals of expat bankers and their girlfriends that are going to be coming."

For more Rolling Stones, visit the Rock Hall's featured exhibit, Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction, on view through March 2014.



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