Under My Thumb

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"Under My Thumb"
Under My Thumb cover.jpg
Japanese single picture sleeve
Song by the Rolling Stones
from the album Aftermath
Released15 April 1966 (1966-04-15) (UK) 2 July 1966 (US)
Recorded6–9 March 1966
GenrePop rock
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham
Aftermath track listing
14 tracks
Side one
  1. "Mother's Little Helper"
  2. "Stupid Girl"
  3. "Lady Jane"
  4. "Under My Thumb"
  5. "Doncha Bother Me"
  6. "Goin' Home"
Side two
  1. "Flight 505"
  2. "High and Dry"
  3. "Out of Time"
  4. "It's Not Easy"
  5. "I Am Waiting"
  6. "Take It or Leave It"
  7. "Think"
  8. "What to Do"

"Under My Thumb" is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and recorded by the Rolling Stones for their 1966 album Aftermath. Although it was never released as a single in English-speaking countries, it is one of the band's more popular songs from the period and appears on several best-of compilations, such as Hot Rocks 1964-1971.

The group frequently performed "Under My Thumb" on their 1981 US Tour and 1982 European tour as the opening number at each concert.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The song's lyrics are an examination of a sexual power struggle, in which Jagger's lyrics celebrate the success of finally having controlled and gained leverage over a previously pushy, dominating woman. Jagger later reflected on the track in a 1995 interview: "It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others ... Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman".[1] For many years starting with the 1969 tour, Jagger changed the references of "girl" in the lyric to "woman".

Like many of the songs from the Aftermath period, "Under My Thumb" uses more novel instrumentation than that featured on previous Stones records. Fuzz bass lines were added by Keith Richards. Marimba riffs, played by Brian Jones, provide the song's most prominent hook.[citation needed]

The lyrics, which savour the successful "taming of the shrew" and compare the woman in question to a "pet", a "Siamese cat" and a "squirming dog" provoked some negative reactions, especially amongst feminists, who objected to what they took as the suppressive sexual politics of the male narrator. American humanities professor Camille Paglia, for example, reports that her admiration and defense of "Under My Thumb" marked the beginning of a rift between her and the radical feminists of the late 1960s.[2][3]


Altamont incident[edit]

The song was played during the death of Meredith Hunter at the infamous Altamont Free Concert in 1969. The Stones were just finishing up the song when a fight broke out between Hells Angels on the security detail and concert-goers, ultimately culminating in the stabbing of Hunter by Hells Angel Alan Passaro after Hunter pulled out a gun.[citation needed]

It is a common misconception that Hunter was stabbed while the band was playing "Sympathy for the Devil".[4] The events appear in the film Gimme Shelter.[5]

Charting versions[edit]

  • Del Shannon covered "Under My Thumb" in 1966. His version reached #128 U.S. Billboard.[6]
  • Wayne Gibson recorded a version in 1966 which failed to chart. However, after its popularity on the Northern Soul scene it went to #17 in the UK in 1974[7].
  • The song was also covered by The Hounds in 1979. Their rendition reached #110 U.S. Billboard.[10]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Paglia, Camille. (1992) Sex, Art and American Culture: New Essays, New York, Vintage, 1992, ISBN 978-0-679-74101-5
  3. ^ Reason, Everything's Awesome and Camille Paglia Is Unhappy!, 19 March 2015
  4. ^ Burks, John (7 February 1970). "Rock & Roll's Worst Day". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 September 2008.
  5. ^ Caspar Llewellyn Smith. "Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones | DVD review | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  6. ^ Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
  7. ^ Official Charts (UK)|url=https://www.officialcharts.com/search/singles/under%20my%20thumb/
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian chart book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 314. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. OCLC 38338297.
  9. ^ "Billboard's Top Album Picks" (PDF). Billboard: 52. 30 August 1975.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004

External links[edit]