Footage: The Stones Torch "Midnight Rambler"

by Peter Wendel
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StonesMarqueeClub SongMango.com"Midnight Rambler" – a howling, haunting number fueled by the roadhouse-blues guitar raunch of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor – crystallized The Rolling Stone's "bad boy" image in the early-'70s.

Although the song, in reality, is a rough biographical sketch of the Boston Strangler, the lyrics can also be applied (and have been) to The Stones themselves, who in certain circles, were considered much more dangerous than any mere serial killer:

I'm called the hit-and-run raper in anger
The knife-sharpened tippie-toe...
Or just the shoot 'em dead, brainbell jangler
You know, the one you never seen before

This ripping performance is from London's Marquee Club on March 26, 1971 – just a month before the release of the mighty Sticky Fingers album (and on the heels of the band's two superb late-'60s LPs, Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed). 

MarqueeClubStones SongMango.comThe 1971 Marquee gig marks a point of "golden era" output for The Stones despite significant adversity and turmoil, manifested (most publicly) in impending self-imposed exile in the south of France – and exacerbated by plenty of heroin and more than their share of wild women.

The Marquee Club has added import in that it was the site of The Rolling Stones' first ever live performance on July 12, 1962.

Don't miss this footage, featuring smoking harmonica play from Jagger (27 at the time) and the magical guitar interplay between Richards and Taylor, who would leave the band in 1974.

"Midnight Rambler"
Jagger/Richards

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Everybody got to go
Did you hear about the midnight rambler
The one that shut the kitchen door
He don't give a hoot of warning
Wrapped up in a black cat cloak
He don't go in the light of the morning
He split the time the cock'rel crows

Talkin' about the midnight gambler
The one you never seen before
Talkin' about the midnight gambler
Did you see him jump the garden wall
Sighin' down the wind so sadly
Listen and you'll hear him moan
Talkin' about the midnight gambler
Everybody got to go

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Well, honey, it's no rock 'n' roll show
Well, I'm talkin' about the midnight gambler
Yeah, everybody got to go

Well did ya hear about the midnight gambler?
Well honey its no rock-in' roll show
Well I'm talking about the midnight gambler
The one you never seen before

Oh don't do that, oh don't do that, oh don't do that
Don't you do that, don't you do that (repeat)
Oh don't do that, oh don't do that

Well you heard about the Boston...
It's not one of those
Well, talkin' 'bout the midnight...sh...
The one that closed the bedroom door
I'm called the hit-and-run raper in anger
The knife-sharpened tippie-toe...
Or just the shoot 'em dead, brainbell jangler
You know, the one you never seen before

So if you ever meet the midnight rambler
Coming down your marble hall
Well he's pouncing like proud black panther
Well, you can say I, I told you so
Well, don't you listen for the midnight rambler
Play it easy, as you go
I'm gonna smash down all your plate glass windows
Put a fist, put a fist through your steel-plated door

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
He'll leave his footprints up and down your hall
And did you hear about the midnight gambler
And did you see me make my midnight call

And if you ever catch the midnight rambler
I'll steal your mistress from under your nose
I'll go easy with your cold fanged anger
I'll stick my knife right down your throat, baby
And it hurts!

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including the Peach, Mountain Jam, the All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at PWendel@SongMango.com.

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