Flashback: The Rolling Stones Release ‘Voodoo Lounge’
It was 28 years ago today (July 11th, 1994) that the Rolling Stones released Voodoo Lounge. The album, which was the band’s first as part of a multi-million dollar recording deal with Virgin, marked the Stones’ first without Bill Wyman on bass and introduced his permanent replacement, Miles Davis and Sting sideman, Daryl Jones.
The album, which was the beginning of the Stones’ work with Don Was, was the band’s first album to not feature a Top 40 hit — or a Top 10 lead single — with the album’s three singles under-performing on the Billboard Hot 100. “Love Is Strong” only climbed as high as Number 91, “You Got Me Rocking” stalled at Number 113, and “Out Of Tears” topped out at Number 60.
Both “Love Is Strong” and “You Got Me Rocking” went on to peak at Number Two on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks, with “Out Of Tears” hitting Number 14. Voodoo Lounge debuted at Number Two and was kept out of the top spot by the soundtrack to Disney’s The Lion King. In all, Voodoo Lounge spent five weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart — a drop from the 12 weeks 1989’s Steel Wheels spent in the Top 10.
Voodoo Lounge scored the Stones two Grammy’s in 1995 — with “Love Is Strong” winning the award for Best Music Video, Short Form, and Voodoo Lounge scoring the Best Rock Album prize.
The album continues to figure in the Stones’ shows, with “You Got Me Rocking” frequently popping up early in the band’s setlists, and Keith Richards‘ two solo spots going on to enjoy a life of their own, with “The Worst” considered to be a modern country classic, and “Thru And Thru” immortalized with its placement on HBO’s The Sopranos.
With Voodoo Lounge dropping 30 years after the Stones’ first U.S. chart hits, Mick Jagger was asked if after so much time, he was still confident he could deliver the goods: “I mean, it’s a question you might ask of a baseball pitcher. . . I’ve got it in a song, ‘You Got Me Rocking.’ Y’know, it gets to certain time where you can’t, y’know, deliver the pitch anymore — but this isn’t really such a similar activity, really.”
Keith Richards recalled how one of the album’s most durable rockers, “Sparks Will Fly,” came about: “‘Sparks Will Fly,’ for instance, is the middle of the night at Ronnie’s place, and there was a big bonfire and we were just tossin’ on some more wood and I was lookin’ at it, and then I threw on another piece of wood and these sparks flew. I just turned around (laughs) and ran straight back to the studio: ‘Charlie? Follow me (laughs).’ And we wouldn’t let anybody touch that track until we honed it down to, like, scientific precision (laughs) But they come (snaps) like that; ‘Sparks Will Fly’ and suddenly y’know? As long as you’ve got everybody around, y’know — ‘Incoming!'”
The Voodoo Lounge tour kicked off on August 1st, 1994 in Washington, D.C. at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and wrapped on August 30th, 1995 in Rotterdam, Netherlands at Feijenoord Stadion.
The tour played 129 shows over four legs and six continents, earning the band a whopping $320 million. A total of 6.5 million fans saw the Voodoo Lounge tour, making it the biggest grossing tour to that date.