19th Nervous Breakdown

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"19th Nervous Breakdown"
German picture sleeve
Single by The Rolling Stones
B-side "As Tears Go By" (UK)
"Sad Day" (US and Canada)
Released 4 February 1966 (UK)
12 February 1966 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 3–8 December 1965, RCA Studios, Hollywood
Genre Rock and roll, psychedelic rock[1]
Length 3:56
Label Decca F.12331(UK)
London 45-LON.9823 (US and Canada)
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Andrew Loog Oldham (engineer: David Hassinger)
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"As Tears Go By"
"19th Nervous Breakdown"
"Paint It Black"
Music sample

"19th Nervous Breakdown" is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards,[2] recorded in late 1965 and released as a single in early 1966, it reached number 2 on the US charts and was their fifth consecutive UK number one.

Composition and recording[edit]

The song was written during the group's 1965 tour of the United States and recorded at the conclusion of their fourth North American tour during the Aftermath album sessions, between 3 and 8 December 1965 at RCA Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.

Jagger came up with the title first and then wrote the lyrics around it. The opening guitar figure is played by Keith Richards while in the verses Brian Jones plays a bass-note figure that derives from "Diddley Daddy" by Bo Diddley, a major influence on the Rolling Stones' style.[3][4] Here the riff is extended into a long blues chord progression behind verbose lyrics similar to those of their previous UK single, "Get Off of My Cloud", and the verse alternates with a bridge theme. The track is also known for Bill Wyman's so-called "dive-bombing" bass line at the end. At almost four minutes' duration it is long by the standards of the time.

Like many early Rolling Stones recordings, "19th Nervous Breakdown" has been officially released only in mono sound. A stereo mix of the song has turned up in private and bootleg collections.[5] One version of the stereo mix features a radically different vocal from Jagger, who alternates between mellow on the verses and rawer on the chorus.



"19th Nervous Breakdown" was released as a single on 4 February 1966 in the U.K. and reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom Record Retailer chart. However, it hit No. 1 in the NME chart and the BBC's Pick of the Pops chart, both widely recognised in Britain at the time, and was the fifth best-selling single of 1966 in the U.K. (achieving greater full-year sales than both Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", which had prevented "19th Nervous Breakdown" from reaching No.1 on the Record Retailer chart, and The Rolling Stones' next single release, "Paint It Black", which reached No.1 on the Record Retailer chart for a week at the end of May 1966).[7]

"19th Nervous Breakdown" was released on 12 February 1966 in the U.S. and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was one of three songs ("(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "As Tears Go By" being the other two) the Rolling Stones performed on their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in the U.S. in February 1966.

Covers and cultural references[edit]

Joe Pass covered the song in his 1966 release The Stones Jazz. The Standells also covered the song in 1966, on their album Dirty Water.

On a season 10 episode of the sketch comedy Saturday Night Live, Martin Short (then a cast member on the show) portrayed Jagger in a skit, singing "19th Nervous Breakdown" with Gary Kroeger (who was portraying Julio Iglesias).

The song was used as the opening theme for the short-lived TV drama Miami Medical.

In the 2000 Warner Bros film Red Planet, directed by Antony Hoffman, Gallacher (Val Kilmer) is heard singing the refrain to himself on two separate occasions.

The song "19th Nervous Breakdown" was used in a 2003 Adam Sandler movie Anger Management.

British indie rock group The Wedding Present performed a version of the song in June of 2010 for The A.V. Club‍‍ '​‍s A.V. Undercover series.[8]

The song is referenced in Van Halen's 2012 album "A Different Kind of Truth" during the song "You and Your Blues"

As the number 19 is a thematic concern in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, this song is referred to several times within it.

On a 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, Mick Jagger was joined by the Foo Fighters and played the song along with "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)".

The Vampire Weekend track "Ya Hey" mentions this song in a poetic interlude.

It was used early in the 2015 Universal Pictures animated film, Minions.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
United Kingdom (Record Retailer) 2[9]
United Kingdom (NME) 1[10]
United States (Billboard Hot 100) 2[11]
United States (Billboard R&B Singles Chart) 32[11]


  1. ^ J. DeRogatis, Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Milwaukie, Michigan: Hal Leonard, 2003), ISBN 0-634-05548-8.p.53
  2. ^ Mick Jagger interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  3. ^ Bo Diddley – The Story Of Bo Diddley: album review
  4. ^ 19th Nervous Breakdown at AllMusic
  5. ^ "The Rolling Stones In Stereo". Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "19th Nervous Breakdown". rollingtimes.org. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1966 [in the U.K.]". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  8. ^ "The Wedding Present covers The Rolling Stones". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  9. ^ "Featured Artist: Rolling Stones". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Osborne, Roger (1995). Forty Years of "NME" Charts (2nd ed.). Pan Macmillan. p. 164. ISBN 0-7522-0829-2. 
  11. ^ a b The Rolling Stones > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 August 2010.

External links[edit]