“Well this could be the first time, this could be the first time we write our own tune, maybe the first time, I don’t know… Oh no, Oh no…”
The Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time” marked the beginning of the famed songwriting collaborations between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The single was released early in the Rolling Stones’ expansive discography, but the melody and undulating guitar riff continues to lilt its way throughout history.
On February 26, 1965, the Rolling Stones released the single “The Last Time” with the song “Play With Fire” on its B-side. The song was credited to Jagger and Richards, however, the wings of the duo that would also become known as the “Glimmer Twins” had not yet fully developed.
Inspired By Gospel
The song’s refrain is transparently similar to a 1958 song by The Staple Singers titled “This May Be the Last Time.” (The Staple Singers’ version can be heard by following this link.) Richards conceded to this in the 2009 book According to the Rolling Stones. He said, “We came up with ‘The Last Time’, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time.”
An article by independent news source The Conversation notes that “the story of [The Last Time] is one of admiration and imitation. It possessed stylistic flairs and influences that would ultimately foretell the band’s future stardom.” It wouldn’t be the last time gospel music would influence the Jagger-Richards songwriting duo, though, as it would become a recurring theme in their writing, as evident in the 1972 track “Shine a Light.”
It was recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California in January 1965 when the British Invasion was in full swing. On their home turf in the United Kingdom, “The Last Time” was the third Rolling Stones single to reach No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It spent three weeks in this top spot in March and early April of 1965, according to the reference book British Hit Singles & Albums.
The tune has remained a popular staple in the Rolling Stones’ musical canon and was performed routinely during the band’s 1965, 1966, and 1967 concert tours. The song was put into storage, though, until years later when it made a comeback during the Bridges to Babylon Tour in 1997 and 1998. It also appeared in some of the band’s performances during the 50 & Counting Tour in 2012 and 2013.
Not The Last Time You’ll Say “Cheese”
Bob Bonis didn’t keep track of how many times he heard the Rolling Stones play “The Last Time,” but it’s likely he had the ditty looping through his head while he served as their U.S. Tour manager for the Stones’ first five trips stateside (as well as for all three The Beatles’ American tours).
Bonis’ version of the tune, however, may have sounded something more like… “Well I told you once and I told you twice, that someone will have to pay the price… if you don’t sit still and smile for the Leica.”
Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis practiced his passion for photography while the Stones played their passion on the stage. These sincere and historic photographs captured at the height of the British Invasion are available for the first time as strictly limited edition fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!