Back in the 1960s, the BBC’s Top of the Pops was the flagship program of music, welcoming an enviable list of now-legendary artists to its stage. However, blissfully unaware of how valuable time would make these performances, the show, as almost all on the station, was subject to the penny-pinching policy of erasing tapes so that they could be reused. For this reason, with over 500 of the 2,271 total episodes missing, every now and then an archivist stumbles upon a slice of lost music history gold from TOTP, such as this taping of The Rolling Stones performing what was soon to be their number one single, Honky Tonk Woman on July 3rd in 1969.
The Rolling Stones share a rich history with Top of the Pops. They were the first band to appear on the show in 1964 – Dusty Springfield was the first performer – and made frequent visits throughout the decade, thanks to their dominance of the UK Singles Chart.
On July 3rd, 1969, the band were in the studio to perform their new single, Honky Tonk Woman which would be at number one on the singles chart just a few weeks later. It was their first hit to feature new guitarist Mick Taylor, who had replaced founding member Brian Jones a few weeks earlier. It was also on this day that The Rolling Stones would learn of Jones’ death the night before, from drowning in his pool. Two days later, they would pay tribute to their lost companion with a free concert in London’s Hyde Park, drawing a crowd of over 250,000.
Despite the sombre atmosphere, the Stones delivered a rousing performance of Honky Tonk Woman on TOTP that day which, somehow, wound up lost for decades. Thanks to a rebroadcast that was aired on the Swiss music program, Hits a Go-Go many years later, it wasn’t lost forever. Watch below.
The Rolling Stones | ‘Honky Tonk Women’ [Top of the Pops, 1969]
Last month, an upcoming documentary titled My Life as a Rolling Stone was announced. Celebrating the iconic rocks band’s 60th anniversary, the four-part series promises unseen footage, plus new interviews with the band’s surviving members, and archive footage of the late Charlie Watts. The series will also feature interviews with some of music’s biggest names, including Slash, Steven Tyler, Chrissie Hynde, Rod Stewart and Tina Turner. Find out more below.
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