Music History

Fifty Years Ago Today, The Rolling Stones Wrote “Satisfaction”–And Why the Church of Scientology Is Still Freaked Out

The story goes that Keith Richards woke up in the middle of the night with a guitar riff going through his head. He was in a hotel room on the sixth floor for the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel on Pierce Street in Clearwater, Florida. He stake awake long enough to start a cassette player on the side of his bed to get the idea down on tape with an acoustic guitar he kept near for just such an occasion. After about two minutes of plucking at the strings, he fell back asleep with the machine running. Forty-five minutes of snoring followed.

The date was May 6, 1965. The rest of the song came together later in the day and it was recorded for the first time at Chess Studios in Chicago on May 10. The version we know today was made at RCA Studios in Hollywood on May 12.  We all know what happened next.

So where does the Church of Scientology come in?  In the mid-70s, the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel became the church’s worldwide spiritual headquarters.  The Tampa Bay Times reports this from Andrew Loog Oldham, the guy who produced the song:

“Clearwater was the given location by Keith. In any event, even the Scientologists believed it to be true. When they took over the premises, they are supposed to have had the room, supposedly on the 6th floor, ‘cleaned’ of the Rolling Stones’ influence.” (Inquiries to the Church of Scientology on this matter received no reply.)

But wait a second. What about all the stories about the song between written at the Gulf Motel on Clearwater Beach? Or was the song actually born back in London?  No one can seem to remember. More here.

Meanwhile, here’s a story on how “Satisfaction” have evolved over the years.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38413 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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