Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Jumpin' Jack Flash

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"Child of the Moon"



24 May 1968 (UK) May 1968 (US)

20 April 1968, Olympic Studios, London

Hard rock, blues rock, rock and roll

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1968. Called "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London" by Rolling Stone magazine, the song was perceived by some as the band's return to their blues roots after the baroque pop and psychedelia heard on their preceding albums, Aftermath (1966), Between the Buttons (1967) and especially Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967). One of the group's most popular and recognisable songs, it has featured in films and been covered by numerous performers, notably Thelma Houston, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Peter Frampton, Johnny Winter and Leon Russell.


Inspiration and recording

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on "Jumpin' Jack Flash" began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968. Regarding the song's distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:

I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones' band in San Antonio in 1964. The high-strung guitar was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Philips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.

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. Humanities scholar Camille Paglia speculated that the song's lyrics might have been partly inspired by William Blake's poem "The Mental Traveller": "She binds iron thorns around his head / And pierces both his hands and feet / And cuts his heart out of his side / To make it feel both cold & heat."

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." And in a 1968 interview, Brian Jones described it as "getting back to ... the funky, essential essence" following the psychedelia of Their Satanic Majesties Request.

In his autobiography, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman has said that he came up with the song's distinctive main guitar riff on a piano without being credited for it.

Live version from Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals
  • Keith Richards – electric guitar, backing vocals
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar
  • Mick Taylor – electric guitar
  • Charlie Watts – drums
  • Release and aftermath

    Released on 24 May 1968, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (backed with "Child of the Moon") reached the top of the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number three in the United States. It topped the US Cashbox chart for one week. Some early London Records US 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 (Big Hits Vol. 2), one year after the single was released. Since then, it has appeared on numerous Stones compilations, including Hot Rocks 1964–1971 (1971), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), Forty Licks (2002), GRRR! (2012) and Stray Cats, a collection of singles and rarities included as part of the The Rolling Stones in Mono box set (2016).

    The Rolling Stones have played "Jumpin' Jack Flash" during every tour since its release. It ranks as the song the band has played in concert most frequently, and has appeared on the concert albums Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (recorded 1969, released 1970), Love You Live (recorded 1976, released 1977), Flashpoint (recorded 1990, released 1991), Shine a Light (recorded 2006, released 2008), Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live (2013), and Totally Stripped (recorded 1995, released 2016), as well as, notably, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (recorded 1968, released 1996), featuring the only released live performance of the song with Brian Jones. Jones is heard clearly, mixing with Richards's lead throughout the song. The intro is not usually played in concert and 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 Park on 5 July 1969, he has played it in open G tuning with a capo on the fourth fret. Richards is particularly fond of the song's main riff, often crediting it as his favorite among all of his most revered guitar riffs.

    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.

    Music video

    Two promotional videos were made in May 1968: one featuring a live performance, another showcasing the band lip-syncing, with Jones, Jagger and Watts donning makeup.


    Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher named it his favourite British song in 2016.

    Use in film

    The song was featured in Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973) and in Ron Howard's Night Shift (1982).

    It provided the title of Penny Marshall's spy comedy film Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film includes two versions of the song: the original by the Rolling Stones, and a remake by Aretha Franklin that plays over the end credits. Only the Rolling Stones' version appears on the soundtrack album; Franklin's version was released separately as a single and as a track on her 1986 album Aretha. A promotional clip exists for this recording that contains scenes from the film along with studio footage of Franklin recording the song, Keith Richards producing the recording session and Goldberg playing Terry Doolittle, her character from the movie.

    The song was heard at the end of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). In 2009, the song was included in the film The Boat That Rocked. In 2012, the song was used as the ending music of the Japanese TV drama Priceless.

    There is a character named Jumpin' Jack Flash in the opening sequence of the movie Roller Boogie (1979).

    The song was baseball player Jack Wilson's walk-up song during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001 to 2009.

    Aretha Franklin version

    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 for which Ronnie Wood and Richards played guitar, but Franklin played piano. This version is characterised by influences from the popular black music scene. Both the Rolling Stones' and Franklin's versions are on the film's original soundtrack recording. It is quoted by Chicago during the chorus of their 1973 hit "Feeling Stronger Every Day."


  • Aretha Franklin - piano, vocals
  • Ronnie Wood, Allen Rogan, Steve Jordan - drums
  • Brenda Corbett, Margaret Branch, Ortheia Barnes - backing vocals
  • Keith Richards - guitar
  • Randy Jackson - bass
  • Chuck Leavell - keyboards
  • Other cover versions

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

  • Thelma Houston covered the song on her 1969 album Sunshower.
  • Matchbox 20 covers the song in their live shows.
  • Leon Russell performed the song to kick off his medley at The Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in 1971. Russell's cover is included in the benefit concert's various music and video releases. Jagger/Richards waived song royalties in contribution to the event's significant humanitarian fundraising. Another live version appeared on his three disc set Leon Live (1973).
  • The Beach Boys performed the song in concert during the 1970s, and it was originally to be included on their live album The Beach Boys in Concert.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic covered the chorus in "Polkas on 45", his first polka medley from his 1984 album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D.
  • SF Bay Area band Lifeunderwater covered the song during their live performances in the late 1980s.
  • Tina Turner included her version of the song in her 2008–2009 Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour setlist, alongside another Rolling Stones song, "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)". She had previously performed this medley during her 1982 tour.
  • Peter Frampton released a version of the song on his first studio album, Wind of Change, and also on his 1976 live album, Frampton Comes Alive!
  • Johnny Winter covered the number on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1974. An earlier performance is captured on his 1971 album, Live Johnny Winter And.
  • Motörhead covered the song during the recording sessions for the We Are Motörhead album. This rendition appeared on the 2001 re-release of their earlier album Bastards.
  • Guns N' Roses made demo recordings of the song in 1987. These demo versions appear on the Welcome to the Sessions bootleg album.
  • Shed Seven released a live cover version of the song as a B-side to their "On Standby" single, released in August 1996, and in a limited-edition issue of their singles compilation, Going For Gold, in May 1999.
  • A cover of the song was featured as the final level in the Nintendo DS video game Elite Beat Agents, by Billy Fogarty.
  • Ananda Shankar used original Indian classical material alongside sitar-based cover versions of "Jumpin' Jack Flash".
  • David Cook did a version of this song on the ninth season of American Idol, on 17 March 2010, during eliminations. This song was later made available on iTunes for download.
  • Cinderella featured a live version of the song on the b-side of their "Gypsy Road" single.
  • Vains of Jenna released a version of the song on their 2005 EP Baby's Got a Secret.
  • Billy Joel performed a cover of the song as one of his encores of his performance at the Mar y Sol Festival on April 2, 1972.
  • Giant Sand covered the song on the 2011 tribute album Paint It Black: An Alt Country Tribute To The Rolling Stones.
  • Glee used the song to mash-up with "Moves Like Jagger" (Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera) in Season 3 Episode 10, "Yes/No".
  • The pilot movie for 1980s television series The A-Team features a sound-alike version (from uncredited artists) during a sequence as the team escape their nemesis Colonel Lynch (Note that on the DVD version, this cover version is replaced by a generic rock track for copyright reasons).
  • A video game made by Infogrames in 1990 and named Jumping Jack Son, featured a version of the song.
  • References

    Jumpin' Jack Flash Wikipedia

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