Hot Rocks 1964–1971 is the first compilation album of Rolling Stones music released by former manager Allen Klein's ABKCO Records (who gained control of the band's Decca/London material in 1970) after the band's departure from Decca and Klein. Released in late 1971, it proved to be The Rolling Stones' biggest-selling release of their career and an enduring and popular retrospective.
After reportedly having been duped by Klein to unknowingly sign over the recording copyrights to all of their material from 1963 to 1970, The Rolling Stones left Decca and formed their own label, Rolling Stones Records, with a new distributor. They recorded Sticky Fingers throughout 1970, releasing it the following spring. Although Klein—and now ABKCO—no longer had The Rolling Stones as clients, their fruitful catalogue was ripe for the picking and, thus, Hot Rocks 1964–1971 was quickly compiled as a double album greatest hits package.
While the album carries most of the band's biggest hits during their first decade, it does drop a few of them to include standout tracks such as "Play With Fire", "Under My Thumb" and "Gimme Shelter" giving listeners a more well-rounded impression of The Rolling Stones' music in this era. Although "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses" are a part of Sticky Fingers, those two songs are co-owned by the band and Allen Klein because The Rolling Stones recorded the songs while they were still under contract to Decca.
Hot Rocks 1964–1971 was unauthorised by The Rolling Stones (as was More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies)). The album spent 251 weeks on the US album charts (between 1972-2015) and peaked at #4. After selling in excess of six million copies, it was certified twelve times platinum, as per RIAA rules regarding double album releases. It has ended up as their best-selling album. The UK release was delayed for many years, coming out on 21 May 1990, to coincide with the Urban Jungle Tour, reaching No. 3.
Robert Christgau rated the album a B-, writing "If you don't like the Stones, this might serve as a sampler... Look, here's how it works. Except for Satanic Majesties, which isn't represented here, all of their '60s studio albums are musts."