Behind the Song “Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones—Which Hit No. 1 in 1967

The Rolling Stones’ classic early hit “Ruby Tuesday” ascended to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 4, 1967. The baroque-pop gem was the British band’s fourth song to top the U.S. singles chart, following “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud” in 1965, and “Paint It Black” in 1966.

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When “Ruby Tuesday” was released in the U.S., it was the B-side of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” but because of the explicit nature of the latter tune’s lyrics—at least by 1960s standards—“Ruby Tuesday” received much more airplay in the States, and became a hit here. In the U.K., “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” were released as a double-A-side single that peaked at No. 3.

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“Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” also both appeared on the U.S. version of The Stones’ 1967 album Between the Buttons, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The songs were not featured on a studio album in the U.K.

Although credited to both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “Ruby Tuesday” was mainly written by Richards, reportedly with some help from Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones.

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The song is sung from the perspective of a man who is saying goodbye to a mysterious, free-spirited woman whom he’s realizes he can’t hold onto.

The Inspiration Behind “Ruby Tuesday”

“Ruby Tuesday” was inspired by Richards’ broken romance with British model Linda Keith, who, while The Stones were on tour, began dating Jimi Hendrix and then a poet who Richards identified in his 2010 memoir, Life, as Bill Chenail.

“That’s the first time I felt the deep cut,” Richards wrote of the breakup. “The thing about being a songwriter is, even if you’ve been f—ed over, you can find consolation in writing about it, and pour it out. … It becomes an experience, a feeling, or a conglomeration of feelings. Basically, Linda is ‘Ruby Tuesday.’”

More Details About the Song

The track featured a prominent flute-like alto recorder part played by Jones. In addition, Richards bowed a double bass while Bill Wyman’s plucked the strings of the instrument. Jack Nitzsche played piano on the song.

Cover Versions of “Ruby Tuesday”

“Ruby Tuesday” was covered by many artists over the years, including by Oliver, Melanie, Nazareth, Julian Lennon, Rod Stewart, and The Scorpions.

Melanie’s version of the song reached No. 9 on the U.K. singles chart in 1970, and No. 52 on the Hot 100.

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