Back in September RockShot published a feature on the 50th Anniversary release of The Rolling Stones’ seminal album Let It Bleed. If you missed it then you can read it HERE. On the 5th December on the 50th Anniversary of the album’s original release in the UK, ABKCO launched LetitBleed50.com which is an engrossing online, interactive cultural and musical experience. The site is a frame of reference that examines the forces that coalesced to make this body of work the dynamic presence it was and continues to be today. The Rolling Stones Let it Bleed 1968-69 Historical Timeline is an interactive cultural and musical experience. You can Visit the site here.
Let It Bleed is often cited as being a product of a tumultuous time in both the history of the world and the history of the band. In an effort to fully appreciate the original construct of The Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed a half-century ago, one must examine the era in which the band’s masterwork came to be. 1968 and 1969 were a time of violence and a time of celebration. It was most certainly a period of change. From the global student protests, and the Vietnam War; to the assassinations of political leaders and Altamont, From the First Man walking on the moon to Woodstock; This decade will be remembered as one of the most iconic of the 20th century. Let It Bleed almost perfectly symbolises the death of the swinging sixties and an end to the Summer of Love
During this period, The Rolling Stones were prolific. The band would record Let it Bleed including You Can’t Always Get What You Want with the London Bach Choir, and produce and appear in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, and star in Jean Luc Goddard’s One Plus One/Sympathy For The Devil. The releases of Jumpin’ Jack Flash on the Beggars Banquet album, Honky Tonk Women and Let It Bleed indicated their return to Blues and R&B roots.
They shot the innovative promo for Jumpin’ Jack Flash which is a pioneering and seminal music video filmed. The band’s performance in London’s Hyde Park, just after the death of Brian Jones, was the largest outdoor concert ever held at that time and, in the final months of 1969, the band completed a United States tour.
Let It Bleed was born in an age of reckoning, against the worldwide backdrop of daily, televised Armageddon: America’s quagmire in Vietnam; the civil warfare and racial conflict at home; the bombs and Marxist rhetoric of a new, extreme underground; the twisted bloodlust of Charles Manson, the mastermind of the Tate Murders in L.A. (August 1969) a short drive from where the Stones finished their album that fall.
And when the Stones decided to end their 1969 tour with a generous flourish – a free festival in Northern California, four months after the mass utopia at Woodstock, which they did not perform at, as Mick Jagger was filming Ned Kelly – the result on December 6th at Altamont Speedway was fear, mayhem and a killing near the stage caught on film.” – David Fricke
On the LetitBleed50.com you can select All Events or Rolling Stones only. With all events you get a flavour of everything that was going on including news reports and footage starting in January 1968 with the Prague Spring which was was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after World War II. Also in January the Tet Offensive which was a coordinated series of North Vietnamese attacks on more than 100 cities and outposts in South Vietnam. This led to the errosion of the support for the Vietnam war. The album before Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet was being recorded at this time so there are insights into the creation of the first of the big four Stones albums (Beggers Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street).
The timeline in 1968 includes the assassination of Martin Luther King, The Kennedy election and assassination. During this timeline the Rolling Stones clips centre around the creation of Beggars Banquet. During this time Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, and Keith Richards take a ship from Lisbon to Rio. On this trip Mick and Keith coin the name “The Glimmer Twins.”
At the end of 1968, Let It Bleed starts to take shape. Brian Jones was becoming increasing unreliable, due to heavy drug use, only appearing on You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Midnight Rambler and even then only on backing vocals. During the recording he was sacked and died a month later. Mick Taylor joined the Stones and by coincidence only appears on two tracks, Country Honk and Live With Me.
During this time, violent confrontations between police and gay rights activists take place outside the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. This is as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. Actress Sharon Tate and six others are murdered in August by followers of Charles Manson, horrifying the nation but celebrated by many in the counterculture. In the same month thirty-two acts, including The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and more perform at Woodstock Music & Art Fair in Bethel, New York. In October anti-war protests move into the mainstream with a massive march on Washington and nationwide teach-ins.
It is followed by a second march on November 15 that is the largest anti-war protest in US history. And in December Let It Bleed was released. This website shows the turmoil during these 2 years and Let It Bleed has this turmoil stitched into every track. The interactive cultural and musical experience that this site gives you a unique insight into the formation of one of the greatest albums of all times.
However as we know now, there were still a good few albums left in the band, and they were far from over. As David Fricke said “Suddenly, its almost 1970, and the realization that rock music has been with us in force for a decade and half comes as a distinct shock,’ Don Heckman a New York Times pop critic, wrote in the last week of 1969 at the front of his review of Let It Bleed. Even before the review appeared, new history was made. In the first week of December – between the last official date of the U.S. tour, at a Florida rock festival, and the tragedy at Altamont – the Stones stopped in Florence, Alabama, at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to try out two new songs, Brown Sugar and Wild Horses, the first stirring of the band’s next album, 1971 Sticky Fingers. And two numbers that had surfaced at Olympic in 1969, Shine A Light and Lovin Cup would return in the ragged glory of 1972’s Exile on Main Street. Suddenly, it was almost the Seventies. And The Rolling Stones – who had just released the last great rock album of the Sixties, Let It Bleed – were already there.”