On July 5, 1969, before Woodstock and the summer of love, the Rolling Stones played to over 250,000 people in Hyde Park, for free. It was the Stones’ first public concert in over two years, and was planned as an introduction of new guitarist, Mick Taylor, though circumstances inevitably changed following the death of former member Brian Jones two days earlier. The band rehearsed at the Beatles’ studio in the basement of 3 Savile Row.
Brian Jones, due to his increasing drug and alcohol dependency, was fired recently. Jones died on July 3, two days before the festival. The Stones were in Olympic Studios when they were told of his death by Ian Stewart, and, although grief-stricken, decided they would go ahead with the gig and dedicate their performance to him.
Keith Richards later wrote:
“The all-important thing for us was it was our first appearance for a long time, and with a change of personnel. It was Mick Taylor’s first gig. We were going to do it anyway. Obviously a statement had to be made of one kind or another, so we turned it into a memorial for Brian. We wanted to see him off in grand style. The ups and downs with the guy are one thing, but when his time’s over, release the doves, or in this case the sackfuls of white butterflies.”
Hyde Park Live was released as a live album by The Rolling Stones, released on July 22, 2013.
During the 18-minute-long rendition of “Sympathy for the Devil”, a number of African tribal drummers joined the band.