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48 Years Ago: The Rolling Stones Forced to ‘Spend Some Time’ With Ed Sullivan

As tough as they wanted to appear, the gritty punch of the Rolling Stones was no match for the power of Ed Sullivan. On Jan. 15, 1967, the Stones were all set to grace the Sullivan stage for their fourth appearance when they ran into a snag.

There to perform a pair of their recent recordings, the majestic ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and the rollicking ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together,’ the boys were told they were going to have to change the lyrics to the latter. In 1967, the idea of a male and female spending the night together was apparently just too much for the television viewing public to handle. As the story goes, the Sullivan people told Mick Jagger he would have to alter the lyric before showtime.

The band were to perform to a pre-recorded backup, but with a live vocal, as was often the case on the Sullivan show. Jagger reportedly protested but alas, rebellion was not on the set list that night, and the band caved to network pressure changing the line to the quaint, ‘let’s spend some time together.” The show went on, and the band, decked out in their finest 1967 attire, thrilled the fans in attendance. For his own little protest, each time he sang the line, Jagger rolled his eyes, letting the kids know it wasn’t his idea to rewrite the song. He does manage to slip in the proper line about mid way through.

Later in the year, a similar incident would occur as the Sullivan and Co. asked the Doors to take out the ever so offensive word ‘higher’ while performing a very live ‘Light My Fire.’ Jim Morrison, however, did no eye rolling or lyric altering. The Doors were promptly banned from the program.

And, if you’re keeping track of Ed Sullivan vs. the rockers, we can’t forget the planned appearance of Bob Dylan in 1963, who was told he couldn’t perform his song ‘Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.’ Dylan was asked to pick a different song. He said no, Sullivan said no, and Dylan walked out.

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