Rolling Stones songs: Memo from Turner
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing, laughing in my grave…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, Nov. 17 1968
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano), Steve Winwood (guitar), Jim Capaldi (drums)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The Stones recorded this for the movie Performance, starring Mick Jagger as a guy named “Turner.” It is on the soundtrack.
Keith Richards balked at recording this because he was not happy about the love scenes between Jagger and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, in the movie.
The version on Metamorphosis features Traffic members Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi singing backup.
This was released as a single in 1970 only in the UK. This version was credited only to Jagger and peaked at #32. It can be found on The Singles Collection.
Jagger sings this in Performance to the assembled mobsters while persuading them to take their clothes off. The scene wasn’t originally scripted in the Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg-directed movie. Jagger recalled to Mojo in a 2019 interview:
“‘Memo from Turner’ is like watching a total kind of video, a foreshadowing of MTV. It’s very cleverly done, although at the time I quite understand what Don wanted in that scene when he told me – it was sort of thrown in a bit last minute and wasn’t in the original parts of the scripts. It was a sequence that he added later.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
In 1968, Mick Jagger took his first steps as an actor in Performance,
directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. He plays the part of Turner,
a former rock star. The plot involves a gangster named Chas (James Fox)
who has been on the run since killing another hood. He takes refuge with
Turner, who lives with two young women, Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and
Lucy (Michèle Breton), in his apartment in Notting Hill, London. A strange
relationship develops between the two men from very different milieux,
against a background of narcotics and decadence.
With the ambition of attaining the same kind of success that Richard
Lester had known with the Beatles, Warner had hoped that the Glimmer
Twins would write the music for this full-length movie. However, Anita
Pallenberg’s intimate relationships during the shoot with Mick Jagger on the
one hand and Donald Cammell on the other led Keith Richards to slam the
door on the project. As a result, the original soundtrack features only one
number, “Memo from Turner,” sung by the Stones singer. Although credited
to Jagger-Richards, it seems to have been written by Jagger alone (with a
modest contribution from Cammell) is typically “Stones” in spirit. Sean
Egan rightly calls it the “great lost Rolling Stones classic.”79 In the film,
Turner/Jagger performs the song to a group of dumbfounded criminals. And
the lyrics are pretty hard-hitting: I remember you in Hemlock Road in
1956/You’re a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick.
(Ref. rolling stones songs memo from turner)
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