“The Last Time” is a song by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, and the band’s first single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California in January 1965, “The Last Time” was the band’s third UK single to reach number one on the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top in March and early April 1965. It reached number two in the Irish Singles Chart in March 1965.
Although The Last Time is credited to Jagger/Richards, the song’s refrain is very close to “This May Be the Last Time”, a 1958 song by the Staple Singers. In 2003, Richards acknowledged this, saying: “we came up with ‘The Last Time’, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time.” The Rolling Stones’ song has a main melody and a hook (a distinctive guitar riff) that were both absent in the Staple Singers’ version. Phil Spector, whose “Wall of Sound” approach can be heard on the recording, assisted with the production.
Footage still exists of a number of performances of this song by the Rolling Stones in 1965: from the popular BBC-TV music show Top of the Pops, the 1965 New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert and American TV shows including The Ed Sullivan Show and Shindig!. A full live performance is also prominently featured in the 2012 re-edit of the 1965 documentary Charlie Is My Darling. The footage confirms that the rhythm chords and guitar solo were played by Keith Richards, while the song’s distinctive hook was played by Brian Jones, suggesting that Jones may have composed that riff.
A popular song in the Stones’ canon, it was regularly performed in concert during the band’s 1965, 1966 and 1967 tours. It was left off their concert set lists until 1997–98, when it reappeared on the Bridges to Babylon Tour. It later appeared on some of the band’s set lists in 2012–13 on the 50 & Counting tour.
Mick Jagger – lead vocals, percussion
Brian Jones – lead (plays the main riff throughout the song) and rhythm guitar
Keith Richards – rhythm and lead guitar (plays the solo in the middle eight), backing vocals
Bill Wyman – bass, backing vocals
Charlie Watts – drums