Watch Mick Taylor’s Chaotic Baptism of Fire with The Rolling Stones

Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger on stage during the Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park.
Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger on stage during The Rolling Stones' free concert in Hyde Park, London, July 5 1969 (Image credit: Syndication/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Watching this clip of Mick Taylor performing “Sympathy for the Devil” at Hyde Park – filmed 52 years ago today – evokes infinitely more sympathy for him than it does for the fallen angel himself. Complete with diabolic tuning and a supporting cast of Hells Angels, all hell breaks loose when hysterical fans begin invading the stage. Taylor, having now officially joined The Rolling Stones, was out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire.

Hells Angels in Hyde Park during the concert headlined by the Rolling Stones. 5th July 1969

Not all attendees were the peace-loving type... (Image credit: Sunday Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

JULY 05: Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger'S Companion, And Her Son Nicholas From Her First Marriage, During A Concert Of The Rolling Stones In Hyde Park, London, In 1969

...although families were welcome. Marianne Faithfull and her son look on from a safe distance (Image credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Barely in his 20s when he was recruited to replace The Rolling Stones’ ailing guitarist Brian Jones, this performance at Hyde Park was to be Taylor’s live debut with the band. It was, however, overshadowed by founding member Jones’ death just three days prior. 

Nevertheless, it was decided the show must go on, and as a tribute to their fallen comrade, a vast number of white butterflies were ‘released’ on stage. Unfortunately, rather than joyously fluttering from the confines of their boxes, many of those poor creatures simply flopped to the ground overcome by heat and exhaustion. 

It was not a good omen...

July 1969, The Rolling Stones appearing at the Hyde Park concert in London

A view from the crowd. (Image credit: Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Added to the pressure of this being Taylor’s first public performance with The Rolling Stones was the fact that he found “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” to be shockingly under-rehearsed. “They sounded like a typical bunch of guys in a garage playing out of tune and too loudly,” he once remarked. Indeed, they had not performed in public for over two years. The estimated 250,000-500,000 attendees at Hyde Park probably did little to settle his nerves. 

LONDON - June 13: The Rolling Stones hold a press conference in Hyde Park to announce that 20-year-old Mick Taylor, former lead guitarist of the John Mayall rhythm and blues group replaces Brian Jones as the new member of the Rolling Stones.

On June 13 1969, The Rolling Stones held a press conference in Hyde Park to announce that Mick Taylor would be replacing Brian Jones as guitarist (Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Us guitar nerds will notice Taylor’s Bigsby-equipped Cherry Red SG-style early-‘60s Gibson Les Paul Standard. Taylor used the guitar on The Rolling Stones’ American tour later in the year before it was stolen in the early-'70s from the band's house in France.

Mick Taylor playing with the Rolling Stones during their concert in Hyde Park, London, 5th July 1969

Mick Taylor used this early-'60s SG-style Gibson Les Paul Standard during his stoic performance with The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park on July 5 1969 (Image credit: Photo by Reg Burkett/Express/Getty Images)

Several other electric guitars disappeared during the theft, including this Gibson Flying V belonging to Keith Richards.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performing on stage, Jagger is wearing his Mr Fish dress.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performing in Hyde Park, London on July 5 1969 (Image credit: mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

52 years after the event, this highly repeatable film shows a turning point in the band’s historical career, while its "Sympathy for the Devil" climax seems to distil the organised chaos of The Rolling Stones into one hugely entertaining clip. Despite everything, it’s hard to look away.

Rent and purchase the full-length film on DVD and Blue-ray here

Guitar Player Staff

Guitar Player is the world’s most comprehensive, trusted and insightful guitar publication for passionate guitarists and active musicians of all ages. Guitar Player magazine is published 13 times a year in print and digital formats. The magazine was established in 1967 and is the world's oldest guitar magazine.

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