Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but you can at least get them to put a new spin on the old ones. Or at least you could the Rolling Stones as they forged on well into their second decade. They hit #1 in the U.S. on this day in 1978 with “Miss You.”
It was the first single off their Some Girls album, the first to have Ronnie Wood onboard as a full-time member and guitarist. Despite Keith Richards’ deepening drug problems in that time period, it was seen as one of their most creative albums of the decade and a return to form after a few less-than-brilliant records.
Considering that by then they used Richards and Wood as guitarists and Mick Jagger played some guitar on the single as well, it wasn’t as much a blow-the-walls down rocker as one might have expected. The Stones were taking note of what was going on in the music world and didn’t want to get left behind. It was the height of the disco revolution and old-style rock and roll wasn’t in vogue. So the Stones set out to get with the times… but do so in their own style.
“’Miss You’ was heavily influenced by going out to the discos,” drummer Charlie Watts confirms. “you can hear it on the four-to-the floor and the Philadelphia-style drumming.” Keith Richards says it “was a damn good disco record.” To whit, the band took the song which is just under five minutes on the LP, under four on the single and put in a bit more dance beat and extended it to eight-and-a-half minutes in their first 12” single.
If you could dance to it, the song about the dude pining for his lost love and his buddies just wanting him to stop his moping didn’t exactly scream “Studio 54” like some other rockers crossover disco hits of that era (think Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” or Kiss’s “I Was Made For Loving You.”) Part of that probably is owing to the fine, and prominent bluesy harmonica played by Sugar Blue, a New York bluesman Mick found busking in Paris! Ian McLagan, formerly of Faces joined in the fun adding some electric piano to the song Mick apparently wrote with a bit of help from Billy Preston when they were jamming in Toronto the year before. (Unfortunately for Preston, he wasn’t credited for writing while Keith Richards was, per the Stones’ norm.)
“Miss You” spent a week on top in the States before being deposed by the Commodores, and also made #1 in Canada. It was their seventh U.S. #1 single, but only the second of the ’70s. It got to #3 in the homeland which wasn’t very much home to them at that point, the UK.