A vintage Rolling Stones press photo
Courtesy of the Rock Hall Library and Archive

10 Things You Might Not Have Known About The Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers"

Written by: Ivan Sheehan

Released in 1971, Sticky Fingers captured the sound of the Rolling Stones' inimitable, insouciant style.

The album was released less than a year after the group launched its own record label – aptly named Rolling Stones Records – for which they signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. The initial releases on the new label were Sticky Fingers and its raunchy, rocking first single, “Brown Sugar.” Musically, the album showcased the band's versatility, from the country lament of "Wild Horses" to the sweeping and tender "Moonlight Mile" to the gritty blues of "I Got the Blues" to the flowing jam of "Can't You Hear me Knocking." Lyrically, Jagger and company painted a lurid portrait and seedy narrative rife with overt – and only slightly less subtle – references to drugs and the accompanying trials, peppering it all with frank discussions of race, sex and violence.

10 Things You Might Not Have Known About The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers

1. Sticky Fingers is the first release on Rolling Stones Records, whose president was Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess.

2. The album’s artwork – the cover (which featured a working zipper), back cover and inner design – was conceived by famed artist Andy Warhol.

3. Former manager Alan Klein has dual copyright ownership with the Rolling Stones of "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses."

4. Sticky Fingers was written and recorded over a two-year span in three distinct locations: Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama; Stargroves (Mick Jagger’s home and country estate during the 1970s) in East Woodhay, Hampshire, England; and Olympic Sound Studios in London. The recording at Muscle Shoals was largely clandestine as the band members did not have the proper visas to be recording in the United States.

5. The album did not receive favorable reviews by some very high profile critics upon its release, including Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau who wrote: "If Sticky Fingers suffers from any one thing it's its own self-defeating calculating nature. Its moments of openness and feeling are too few: its moments where I know I should be enjoying it but am not, too great."

6. Sticky Fingers is the first album to feature Mick Taylor as an official member of the Rolling Stones, and his influence can be heard on such tracks as “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” "Sway" and “Moonlight Mile.”

7. In Spain, the original album art for the cover was censored and replaced with a "can of fingers" cover, and "Sister Morphine" was replaced by a live version of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock."

8. The sprawling coda of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” was not rehearsed by the band and was recorded as it was first performed.

9. “Sister Morphine” and “Wild Horses” were released before Sticky Fingers by other artists – the former by Marianne Faithfull, the latter by the Flying Burrito Brothers.

10. The famous Rolling Stones tongue made its debut on Sticky Fingers. British designer John Pasche came up with the famous red “tongue” logo that remains an inseparable element of the  Stones iconography to this day.

The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction is on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum through March 2014.