I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Rolling Stones -- Paint It Black


I realize that it's a day early for Reminiscings of Youth but on hearing yesterday about the passing of The Rolling Stones' drummer, Charlie Watts (1941-2021), I felt that I should have put something up as soon as possible. Now, I was never a Rolling Stones fan but their presence in popular culture was so great that even as a non-fan, at least some of their songs were very well known to me such as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and I knew about the outsized personalities of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Often when I compare 80s aidoru superstars Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)and Akina Nakamori(中森明菜), I use the analogy of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as respectively applied to them.

(Video from the Drum Channel)

My lone Rolling Stones anecdote comes from years back when I was teaching at the second school during my 1994-2011 time in the Kanto region. One Monday, I had to do a series of level checks for young employees at the swanky Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo not too far away from Japan's equivalent of The Pentagon. Once I was finished, I was given a pleasant afternoon tea service as part of their gratitude and I had a nice conversation with the hotel manager which led to some of the famous stars that have stayed at the Four Seasons. When he told me that The Rolling Stones had stayed there, his eyes rolled so hard in his head that their pupils could have bulged out the back of it. Let's say that they weren't the cleanest or the most button-down of guests.

And yet, I couldn't have imagined that Charlie Watts would have been involved in any of the debauchery (although I came to know about his vices in the 1980s). When I first saw him on television in the 70s or 80s, he already looked old to me compared to Mick and the others. Watts' hair was either already gray or graying. I don't know anything about his drumming philosophy or style but he always struck me as being the stoic parental anchor behind those drums. He appeared well-grounded and very dapper in his suits, and I think that he would have been the most approachable Stone.

For this ROY article, I've gone with one of their first hits, "Paint It Black" which was released as a single in May 1966. It's one of the Stones' songs that I know very well and even my anime buddy who has love for electric guitars has played "Paint It Black" constantly as part of his practice regime. Not being too cognizant about the Stones and their work, as I've mentioned above, listening to "Paint It Black", which was created by Jagger and Richards, there was the familiar melody with the sitar which I would find out on Wikipedia was the first time that a song with such an instrument would become a No. 1 hit. I also discovered that "Paint It Black" dealt with a person's earth-shattering loss and how he saw the world during that time of mourning.

Covers of "Paint It Black" have been done over and over in the decades since the song's initial success, and that includes Japanese artists. Given the direct translation of "Kuroku Nure!"(黒くぬれ!), rockers such as RC Succession(RCサクセション)and Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)have given the Stones' classic their own take. RC Succession, led by the late Kiyoshiro Imawano(忌野清志郎), is performing the song above although I couldn't find out who had provided the Japanese lyrics.

Now, what was being released in May 1966 in Japan according to Showa Pops?

Kazuko Matsuo & Hiroshi Wada and Mahina Stars -- Ginza Blues(銀座ブルース)

Mike Maki -- Bara ga Saita (バラが咲いた)

Jackey Yoshikawa & His Blue Comets -- Aoi Hitomi(青い瞳)


  1. I find it very interesting that the Rolling stones played their first show in Japan as late as February 14, 1990. I would have expected that they would have visited Japan in the 1970's. What kept them away from Japan?

    1. Hello, Brian. The polite side of me would say: "I have no idea". However, there is the deeper side of me that would think: "Probably the stiff anti-drug laws in Japan". Paul McCartney found that out the hard way. :)

    2. Actually, I can add some more from the J-Wiki article on The Stones. They had been scheduled to perform at the Budokan in Tokyo for several shows beginning from Valentine's Day 1973. However, in January that year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that due to drug possession, the Stones would be banned from entering Japan. And as you pointed out, they wouldn't perform for the first time until Valentine's Day 1990.

      Strangely enough, because of the cancellation of the 1973 concerts, a song titled "Rolling Stones wa Konakatta" (The Rolling Stones Didn't Come) was recorded by Teruhiko Saigo for a June 1973 release.


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