In rotation: ‘The Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show’

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Those who know of the Rolling Stones’ early history on “The Ed Sullivan Show” are most likely familiar with their 1967 performance of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” on which they were required to change the chorus to “Let’s spend some time together” to appease the network’s censors. But the band appeared on the hugely popular American show six times throughout the ‘60s, and these performances, along with the entire episodes and the commercials surrounding them, are featured on the new double-disc collection “The Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show.”


The release captures the band at its sassiest and sexiest, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had bowl haircuts — and Richards looked about 12 years old — and the band played a brand of rock ‘n’ roll that had yet to go through its LSD phase, and the mere shimmy of Jagger’s striped slacks would make the ladies go crazy.

In addition to the time-machine feel of witnessing the world’s greatest rock band as it rose, the shows, which span from 1964 through 1969 (when, by then, at least a few members of the band look to have discovered LSD), offers great context. Before one of the Stones’ 1965 appearances, blue-eyed soul singer Dusty Springfield performed an early hit; and on the episode featuring the Stones doing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” actor Hal Holbrook recites Lincoln’s second inaugural address — in prime time (times sure have changed).

By their last appearance in 1969, the band had longer hair, more attitude and freakier clothes. They sing “Gimme Shelter,” “Love in Vain,” and “Honky Tonk Women,” Jagger wears an amazing flowered choker around his neck and Richards is more … laid back. Those five years had done a number on the band, and the band had done a number on culture, and the result is a fascinating look at a group coming into its own.

The Rolling Stones
“The Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show” (DVD)
Sofa Entertainment


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Image courtesy Sofa Entertainment