May 6, 1965 — 50 years ago in Clearwater, Florida one of the up and coming British Invasion rock bands, The Rolling Stones, came to town. On May 2 they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show for the first time. Nearly 3,000 rabid teenage fans were waiting to see them in concert at Jack Russell Stadium, once the home for MLB’s spring training and now used for amateur baseball teams.
As the Stones began performing into their fourth song, a riot broke out. Fans started storming the stage while the band ran for their lives. One Clearwater city official stated, “There will never be another show like this as long as I am here.” Before leaving town the very next day, rock music history was about to be made.
Later that night while in their Clearwater Beach motel rooms, Keith Richards woke from his deep sleep. He had a guitar riff and the song lyric “can’t get no satisfaction” waiting to be played and recorded. After a while Richards forgot to turn off his portable tape recorder before going back to sleep. Forty minutes of his snoring were recorded (would make for some interesting listening on YouTube).
The next morning Richards presented his inspiration for a new song to Mick Jagger. While at the Gulf Motel pool, Jagger began composing the rest of this song that would become known as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Less than a week later in Chicago, and then Los Angeles, the Stones and their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, laid down the track to tape by recording it. “Satisfaction” was released in the U.S. on June 6 where it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Back in the Stones’ home country the single was released a month later on August 20. It also reached the top of the British chart. For the Rolling Stones 1966 tour they appeared once again on the Ed Sullivan show. The lyric “trying to make some girl” was censored, because radio listeners and programmers worried of its sexual innuendo. This made television executives cautious as well.
According to a May 3, 2015 article from the Tampa Bay Times (Sunday’s print edition), their piece on the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones coming to the Tampa Bay area for the first time questions their hotel lodging. It seems there’s a debate about which Clearwater hotel they actually stayed at, The Jack Tar Harrison Hotel (now the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Church of Scientology worldwide headquarters) or the Gulf Motel on Coronado Drive? Stones bassist Bill Wyman clearly remembers it to be the beach motel. A longtime Rolling Stones fan vividly remembers them staying at the Gulf Motel and has the keys and brochure as proof. Scientologists firmly believe it to be the Fort Harrison Hotel.
Now the Gulf Motel no longer exists, except as a parking lot. In 1965 Clearwater Beach was a mecca for teens, so it seems logical the band would stay there. On the other hand, the Ft. Harrison Hotel was more for business travelers and conventioneers, much too conservative for a rock band during those times. Whether they stayed on the beach or in downtown Clearwater, Tampa Bay was still the inspiration for Keith Richards’ and Mick Jagger’s iconic rock classic.