Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rolling Stones – "Who's Been Sleeping Here?" (1967)

Was it your boyfriend?  Your girlfriend?
Who's been sleeping here?

I was in the ninth grade when the Rolling Stones released the Between the Buttons album in 1967.  I played it to death, and I still remember the lyrics to every song on it.  

The album contained two songs you're probably very familiar with: "Ruby Tuesday" was a #1 hit single, while "Let's Spend the Night Together" made it only to #55 on the Billboard "Hot 100" because so many radio stations refused to play it.

The "Between the Buttons" album
Jack Nitzsche played piano on both songs, and also played piano (or harpsichord) on several other tracks on Between the Buttons.  He may have been the dominant instrumentalist on that album, which featured keyboards more than guitars.

Bernard Alfred "Jack" Nitzsche was born on a Michigan farm in 1937.  When he was 18, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met Sonny Bono.  The two of them wrote "Needles and Pins" for Jackie DeShannon in 1963; the Searchers covered it the next year, and their version was a #1 hit in the UK.  

Jack Nitzsche, Darlene Love, and Phil Spector 
Nitzsche then became an arranger and conductor for Phil Spector.  Among the songs he orchestrated for Spector was "River Deep, Mountain High," which Ike and Tina Turner recorded in 1966.  

Nitzsche also worked with "The Wrecking Crew," the group of Los Angeles studio musicians who provided the backing music for hits by the Beach Boys, Monkees, and many other recording artists.

Nitzsche met the Rolling Stones in 1964 during the filming of The T.A.M.I. Show, the greatest pop music concert movie ever.  He played on several classic Stones songs (including "Heart of Stone," "Play with Fire," "Stupid Girl," "Lady Jane," and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction") that were released prior to Between the Buttons, and also was responsible for the arrangements of the choral parts on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (which featured the London Bach Choir).

Nitzsche with Keith Richards
Later, Nitzsche worked closely with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, who recorded a number of albums with Young as well as albums of their own.

After having a falling out with Young, Nitzsche began to devote more and more of his time to writing film music.  He was nominated for the Academy Award for Original Film Score for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and later won an Academy Award for Best Song for "Up Where We Belong," from An Officer and a Gentleman.  (He co-wrote that song with Will Jennings – he composed "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic – and singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, who was Nitzsche's wife at the time).

Nitzsche's personal life fell apart in the seventies.  There were reports of substance abuse and irrational behavior.  

In 1979, he was arrested for assaulting his former girlfriend – and Neil Young's ex-girlfriend – actress Carrie Snodgress (who had been nominated for a "Best Actress" Oscar for her performance in Diary of a Mad Housewife).

Carrie Snodgress
According to Snodgress's testimony, Nitzsche placed a gun between her legs and threatened "to destroy that part of me."  He then hit her with the gun butt (she needed 18 stitches) and dragged her around the room by her hair.  Nitzsche was fined and placed on three years' probation.  

Click here to read a newspaper story about Nitzsche's assault of Snodgress.

Nitzsche suffered cardiac arrest and died on this date in 2000.  He was 63.

Here's "Who's Been Sleeping Here," featuring Jack Nitzsche on the piano.  

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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