Brenda, Anita and Merry

It’s Friday and time for a song.

I have been reading in the paper this week about Keith Richards’ autobiography. Filling up the columns of various newspapers has been how Keith, or Keef if you prefer, refers to Mick as Brenda. Furthermore, amongst the two, there has been a bit of partner swapping back and forth, with both Keith and Mick having slept with Marianne Faithfull, and later Mick, seducing Anita Pallenberg away from Keith, who had earlier stolen her away from Brian Jones. Keith reports that while waiting for Anita to come home, which she didn’t, he wrote Gimme Shelter, easily one of the best Rolling Stones songs ever.

One crucial element to the song, in addition to the wailing guitar and pounding drums and whirling round lyrics is the addition of Merry Clayton. Merry, born on Christmas Day, was a backing singer who can be heard on early Joe Cocker records and in some versions of Ray Charles’ Raelettes. Her big moment was her contribution to Gimme Shelter with the Rolling Stones and this lead to her producing a few solo albums in the early 70s one of which featured, and was named after, her own solo version of that song.

So, in recognition of Brenda, Keef, Anita and Merry, here is Gimme Shelter, with more of that other voice you may already be familiar with from hearing the song over the years.

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