Rolling Stones songs: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
If I have to sleep on your doorstep all night and day/ Just to keep you from walkin’ away…
Written by: Whitfield/Holland
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, Nov. 13-24 1973; Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury, England, Apr. 1974; Island Recording Studios, London, England, May 20-25 1974
Guest musicians: Billy Preston (piano and clavinet), Ed Leach (cowbell)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
A remake of the Motown classic, this was a hit for The Temptations in 1966. A heavily processed Keith Richards guitar riff sets this version apart from the original. The Stones covered another Temptations song, “Just My Imagination,” in 1978.
The Stones originally planned to record Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” as the only cover song on It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, but they bumped it for this.
In this interview with Paul McCartney, McCartney takes credit for introducing Mick Jagger to this song: “There were two songs I turned Mick onto that the Stones have done. One was She Said Yeah and the other was Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. Mick would deny it – ‘Wot? Never saw him, never met him’ – but I distinctly remember having him up into a little music room and playing it to him. He loved it and he went and did it. We’ve messed around with the track a little bit, but it is sort of like my memory of the original.”
That’s Billy Preston on the piano this time, Preston being the one that played the funkier tunes. There is no doubt that the piano asserts itself here, an integral piece that brings the song together as more than the sum of its parts. Jagger was also in top form here. As much air play as this song gets, it’s surprising that it only made it to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Rolling Stones performed this song live for the first time in nearly a decade and a half during a November 15, 2021 show at Ford Field, Detroit. “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” hadn’t been a part of their set list since they rocked London’s O2 Arena in 2017. “Ever since we were really young, we always loved Motown,” Jagger told the audience. “We can’t come to Detroit and not do a Motown number, right?”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
The composer and producer Norman Whitfield, who had already given the
Temptations “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)” in 1964, returned to
duty two years later following the relative failure for the group of “Get
Ready” (composed and produced by Smokey Robinson). After coming up
with a catchy melody, Whitfield asked his songwriting partner Eddie
Holland to compose the lyrics, and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was born. The
song is about a man who begs his girlfriend, with whom he is deeply in
love, not to leave him—a simple but timeless scenario. Following various
improvements made at Berry Gordy’s request (and three different recorded
versions), “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was released as a single on March 3, 1966.
It climbed to number 1 on the R&B chart (for eight nonconsecutive
weeks) and number 13 on the pop chart. Seven years after the Temptations,
it was the Rolling Stones’ turn to record this Motown showcase. Mick
Jagger reveals himself to be every bit as persuasive as David Ruffin, and the
US public would respond favorably: the Stones version reached number 17
on the Billboard chart on December 14, 1974.
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