“Let’s Spend the Night Together” is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and originally released by the Rolling Stones as a double A-sided single together with “Ruby Tuesday” in January 1967. It also appears as the opening track on the American version of their album Between the Buttons. It has been covered by various artists, including David Bowie in 1973.
The song was recorded in December 1966 at the RCA Records studio in Hollywood, California, where the group recorded most of their 1965–1966 hits. Recording engineer Glyn Johns recounts that while mixing “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, Oldham was trying to get a certain sound by clicking his fingers. Two policemen showed up, stating that the front door was open and that they were checking to see if everything was all right. At first, Oldham asked them to hold his earphones while he snapped his fingers but then Johns said they needed a more wooden sound. The policemen suggested their truncheons and Mick Jagger took the truncheons into the studio to record the claves-like sound that can be heard during the quiet break at one minute 40 seconds into the song.
Released in the United Kingdom as a single on 13 January 1967, “Let’s Spend the Night Together” reached number three on the UK Singles Chart, while the other side of the single, “Ruby Tuesday” was never listed. In the United States, the single was released in January and became the opening track of the American edition of the Stones’ album Between the Buttons. Both songs entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on 21 January. However, by 4 March, “Ruby Tuesday” reached number one, while “Let’s Spend the Night Together” stalled at number 55. Due to the sexually charged nature of the lyrics, “Let’s Spend the Night Together” received less airplay. The song features piano by Rolling Stones contributor Jack Nitzsche, organ by Brian Jones, drums by Charlie Watts, piano, electric guitar and bass by Richards, lead vocals by Jagger and backing vocals from both Jagger and Richards. Usual bassist Bill Wyman does not appear on the recording.
In other countries worldwide, both sides of the single charted separately. In Ireland for example, “Ruby Tuesday” peaked at number six, while “Let’s Spend The Night Together” charted separately at number 14, as Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ, considered “Ruby Tuesday” to be more suitable for radio airplay.
On The Ed Sullivan Show, the band was initially refused permission to perform the number. Sullivan himself told Jagger, “Either the song goes or you go”. A compromise was reached to substitute the words “let’s spend some time together” in place of “let’s spend the night together”; Jagger agreed to change the lyrics but ostentatiously rolled his eyes at the TV camera while singing them, as well as Bill Wyman. When the Rolling Stones, following their performance of the song, returned on stage, they were all dressed up in Nazi uniforms with swastikas, which caused Sullivan to angrily order them to return to their dressing rooms to change back into their performance clothes, at which they left the studio altogether. As a result of this incident, Sullivan announced that the Rolling Stones would be banned from performing on his show again. However, the Stones did appear on the show again and performed three songs on 23 November 1969. In April 2006, for their first-ever performance in China, authorities prohibited the group from performing the song due to its “suggestive lyrics”.
Mick Jagger – lead vocal, backing vocals, truncheons, percussion
Keith Richards – electric guitars, bass, piano, backing vocals
Brian Jones – organ, electric guitar
Charlie Watts – drums
Jack Nitzsche – piano