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Jumpin' Jack Flash

"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
Single by The Rolling Stones
B-side "Child of the Moon"
Released 24 May 1968 (UK)
1 June 1968 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 20 April 1968, Olympic Studios, London
Genre Hard rock,[1] blues rock[2]
Length 3:42
Label Decca F.12782 (UK)[3]
London 45.908 (US)
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards,[3] Bill Wyman[4] (uncredited)
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller[3]
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"She's a Rainbow"
"Jumpin'Jack Flash"
"Street Fighting Man"

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a song by English rock band The Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1968.[3] Called "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London" by Rolling Stone,[5] the song was perceived by some as the band's return to their blues roots after the psychedelia of their preceding albums Aftermath (1966), Between the Buttons (1967), Flowers (1967), and Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967).[6][7] One of the group's most popular and recognizable songs, it has featured in films and been covered by numerous performers, notably Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Johnny Winter.


  • Inspiration and recording 1
  • Personnel 2
    • Single version 2.1
    • Live version from Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! 2.2
    • "Child of the Moon" 2.3
  • Release and aftermath 3
  • Music video 4
  • Legacy 5
    • Use in film 5.1
  • Charts 6
  • Cover versions 7
    • Aretha Franklin version 7.1
      • Charts 7.1.1
    • Other cover versions 7.2
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Inspiration and recording

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on "Jumpin' Jack Flash" began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968. Regarding the song's distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:

I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to [4]

Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack – that's jumpin' Jack."[8] The rest of the lyrics evolved from there.[4][9] Humanities scholar Camille Paglia[10] speculated that the song's lyrics might have been partly inspired by William Blake's poem "The Mental Traveller": "She binds iron thorns around his head / And pierces both his hands and feet / And cuts his heart out of his side / To make it feel both cold & heat."

Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone that the song arose "out of all the acid of Satanic Majesties. It's about having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things."[11] And in a 1968 interview, Brian Jones described it as "getting back to ... the funky, essential essence" following the psychedelia of Their Satanic Majesties Request [7]

In his autobiography, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman has claimed that he came up with the song's distinctive main guitar riff on a piano without being credited for it.[4]


Single version[12]

Live version from Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals
  • Keith Richards – electric guitar, backing vocals
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar
  • Mick Taylor – electric guitar
  • Charlie Watts – drums

"Child of the Moon"[12]

Release and aftermath

Released on 24 May 1968, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (backed with "Child of the Moon") reached the top of the UK Singles Chart[3] and peaked at number three in the United States. It topped the U.S. Cashbox chart for one week.[13] Some early London Records US pressings of the single had a technical flaw in them: about halfway through the song's instrumental bridge, the speed of the master tape slows down for a moment, then comes back to speed. The first Rolling Stones album on which the song appeared was their 1969 compilation album, Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), one year after the single was released. Since then, it has appeared on numerous Stones compilations, including Hot Rocks 1964–1971 (1971), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), Forty Licks (2002), and GRRR! (2012).

The Rolling Stones have played "Jumpin' Jack Flash" during every tour since its release. It ranks as the song the band has played in concert most frequently,[14][15] and has appeared on the concert albums Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (1970), Love You Live (1977), Flashpoint (1991), Shine a Light (2008), and Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live (2013), as well as, notably, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (recorded 1968, released 1996, featuring the only released live performance of the song with Brian Jones). Jones is heard clearly, mixing with Richards' lead throughout the song. The intro is not usually played in concert and instead the song begins with the main riff. The open E or open D tuning of the rhythm guitar on the studio recording has also not been replicated in concert (with the possible exception of the 1968 NME awards show, no recording of which has ever surfaced). In the performance filmed for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in December 1968, Richards used standard tuning; and ever since the band's appearance at Hyde Park on 5 July 1969, he has played it in open G tuning with a capo on the fourth fret.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Jumpin' Jack Flash" at number 2 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song 124th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. VH1 placed it at 65 on its show 100 Greatest Rock Songs.[16]

Music video

Two promotional videos were made in May 1968: one featuring a live performance, another showcasing the band lip-syncing, with Jones, Jagger, and Watts donning makeup.


Use in film

The song was featured in Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973) and in Ron Howard's Night Shift (1982).

It provided the title of Penny Marshall's spy comedy film Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) starring Whoopi Goldberg. The soundtrack of the movie includes two versions of the song: the original by The Rolling Stones, and a remake by Aretha Franklin in 1986.

The song was heard at the end of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). In 2009, the song was included in the film The Boat That Rocked. In 2012, the song was used as the ending music of the Japanese TV drama Priceless.

There is a character named Jumpin' Jack Flash in the opening sequence of the movie Roller Boogie.. (1979).

The song was baseball player Jack Wilson's walk-up song during his time with the baseball team Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001–2009.


Chart (1968–1969) Peak
UK Singles Chart[17] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[18] 2
Belgian Singles Chart 8
Dutch Top 40 2
French Singles Chart 2
German Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
Swiss Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 3
US Cashbox Top Singles[13] 1
Preceded by
"Young Girl" by
Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
UK number one single
19 June 1968 for 2 weeks
Succeeded by
"Baby, Come Back" by The Equals

Cover versions

Aretha Franklin version

"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album Aretha
B-side "Integrity"
Released October 24, 1986
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1985
Genre Rock, R&B, soul
Length 4:26
Label Arista Records
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Keith Richards
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"Ain't Nobody Ever Loved You"
"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
"Jimmy Lee"

In 1986, the song's title was used for the Whoopi Goldberg film Jumpin' Jack Flash. In addition to the Rolling Stones' version of the song, the film features Aretha Franklin's cover version for which Ronnie Wood and Richards played guitar, but Aretha played piano. This version is characterised by influences from the increasingly popular black music scene. Both The Rolling Stones' and Franklin's versions are on the film's original soundtrack recording.


Chart (1986/87) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 21
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 20
UK Singles Chart[20] 58
German Singles Chart 42
Swiss Singles Chart 19
Dutch Top 40 48
Swedish Singles Chart 14
New Zealand Singles Chart 43

Other cover versions

A number of other artists have also performed and recorded versions of the song:


  1. ^ David Brackett, The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates (Oxford University Press, 2008), ISBN 0195365933, pp. 233 – 234.
  2. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Allmusic. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 117.  
  4. ^ a b c d McPherson, Ian. "Track Talk: Jumpin' Jack Flash". Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Rolling Stone. 4 December 2007. 
  6. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Jumpin' Jack Flash at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 June 2006.
  7. ^ a b Mick Jagger & Brian Jones interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  8. ^ A jumping jack is an old-fashioned toy – see Jumping jack (toy).
  9. ^ The Rolling Stones (2003). Four Flicks (DVD). Warner Music Vision. 
  10. ^ Paglia, Camille. (1991) Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, New York: Vintage Books, ISBN 0-679-73579-8, p. 281
  11. ^  
  12. ^ a b Nico Zentgraf (2010-10-04). "Rolling Stones database 1968". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  13. ^ a b Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950–1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 500. 
  14. ^ Galbraith, Gary. "The Rocks Off Rolling Stones Setlists Page". Retrieved 8 August 2008. 
  15. ^ Zentgraf, Nico. "The Complete Works of the Rolling Stones 1962–2008". Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  16. ^ "100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll (80–61)". VH1. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  17. ^ Roberts, David (2006).  
  18. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Rolling Stones – Jumpin' Jack Flash". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  19. ^ "Through the Past, Darkly: Big Hits, Vol. 2 – The Rolling Stones | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  20. ^ Roberts, David (2006).  
  21. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 (DVD). BBC Video. 2006. 
  22. ^ "Shed Seven – On Standby".  
  23. ^ "Amiga Reviews: Jumping Jack Son". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  24. ^ [2]

External links

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