From Keith Richards’ infernal, immediately indelible guitar riff to Mick Jagger’s endlessly repeatable opening invocation of the title to its electrifying crystallization of not just the band’s but all of humanity’s rebel spirit, the Rolling Stone’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” stands the greatest single in the history of rock. The song began its ongoing journey back in June 1965 and it has continued to uplift, inspire, piss off, and motivate the world every single day since then.
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - Rolling Stones
Keith Richards composed the instantly iconic music just before falling asleep. The Stones first attempted to record “Satisfaction” in Chicago with Brian Jones on harmonica, then cut it again in Hollywood where they added a crucial element that changed everything, and we do mean everything: the Gibson Maestro fuzzbox.
“Satisfaction” hit audiences like a wrecking ball wired to explode, and that it did throughout the summer of 1965, where the single spent four weeks at #1. In terms of prominence and relevance within the universe of rock-and-roll, the song has never, ever vacated that top spot.
So in honor of the 50th anniversary of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” let’s count down the 50 most notable attempts by other artists to honor the Stones and their signature song by way of cover versions.
If you’re still not getting no satisfaction by the end, sound off in the comments.
The Beatles (1969)
It’s not so much a cover as it is a bit quick riffage blurted out by the band while recording Let It Be; it kicks off the list simply because, you know, it’s the Beatles!
The international porn star turned Italian parliament member pumps it up with appropriately trashy Euro-disco beats.
Phoenix City Allstars (2013)
Rollicking rocksteady rude boys translate the song as “Skatisfaction,” as part of their Jamaican-music tribute album, The Stones Go Ska!
The Vagrants (1966)
Mountain man Leslie West’s first group took a swing at “Satisfaction” and let the economy-sized axe-man show off some of what would flourish fully just a few years hence.
Frankie Ruiz (1996)
Puerto Rican salsa king injects “Satisfaction” with Latin soul and hip-shaking rhythm. Who’s up for a conga line?
Dollie De Luxe (1984)
Norwegian girl-pop duo Dollie De Luxe hit big in France with “Queen of Night/Satisfaction,” a bracing mix of operatic vocals from the lead blonde songbird over a big dance beat combined with a polished garage band covering the Stones. Perhaps nothing on earth has ever so flawlessly embodied the Eurovision Song Contest (where this didn’t compete, but still…).
The Residents (1976)
San Francisco art provocateurs the Residents have demolished and Frankensteined-up rock-and-roll in their own bizarre, giant-eyeballs-in-top-hats-and-tails image since 1969. Their take on rock’s single best known song is perhaps the single best example of what these aesthetic anarchists do like no one else.
Britney Spears (2000)
Overall, it’s pretty watery and weak, but Britney Jean gets credit for her attempt and for exposing a fresh planet of teenybopper ears to, you know, “the hard stuff.”
The Tritons (1973)
A fun-strummed ukulele leads into a pleasingly eased-back reworking of a song that most often defines the opposite of “eased-back.”
Acid Drinkers (1999)
Polish thrash titans Acid Drinkers unearth the primordial metal inherent in the Stones’ original and let it loose.
George Burns (1973)
The Golden Age funnyman tackled “Satisfaction” on the LP George Burns Sings!, a novelty concoction from bubblegum label Buddha Records that also features George taking on “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Mr. Bojangles,” and “King of the Road.”
Juliette Lewis (2012)
Hollywood actress Juliette Lewis courted the usual snickers and sneers in 2003 when she launched her slinky, gritty rock group Juliette and the Licks. She’s shut up a lot of naysayers since then, proving to be a cool frontwoman who delivers solid performances. Check her out here running through “Satisfaction” live.
Bubblerock was British pop impresario Jonathan King’s semi-prank project in which he performed ’50s and ’60s rock standards in a variety of cheeky styles. For “Satisfaction,” he goes all sunshine and laid-back living.
Justine Bateman (1988)
No, it’s not good, but the version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” sung by Family Ties actress Justine Bateman in the female rock-group movie Satisfaction is pretty freakin’ amazing. Award it points for nostalgia, at least, and audacity, should you feel generous.
The Shadows (1970)
England’s best-loved instrumental rock band, the Shadows backed Cliff Richards on his biggest chart-busters and scored their own hits during the high surf-rock era. Their “Satisfaction” delivers the group’s familiar grooves and shivers.
Mary Wells (1966)
Detroit soul songbird Mary Wells covered “Satisfaction” early and expertly, adding big horns in places where Keith Richards says he originally imagined them.
Herbie Mann (1972)
Jazz flautist Herbie Mann blows cool on his mellow-funk, spritely psychedelized “Satisfaction.” It’s quite a trip.
The Strangeloves (1965)
A trio of New York studio pros pretending to be Australian brothers, the Strangeloves brought the world real sweetness with “I Want Candy.” Knowing hot stuff when they heard it, the Strangeloves rushed out his serviceable run-through of their contemporaries’ still smoldering big hit.
Samantha Fox (1987)
The same year Italian porn-star-turned-politician Ciccolina took a swing at "Satisfaction," her fellow adult entertainer Samantha Fox unleashed her own double-D dance take. The difference is that British “Page Three Girl” Samantha was in the midst of racking up huge international hits with her über-’80s tawdry moan-pop; “Satisfaction,” alas, did not end up among them. Still, it provides and interesting snapshot of the times. And maybe some unclean thoughts.
The Incredible Bongo Band (1974)
Sassy, funky, freaky, and fantastically of its moment, the Incredible Bongo Band’s instrumental “Satisfaction” focuses on polyrhythmic percussion, hot horns, and a scorching electric guitar. It’s IBB mastermind Michael Viner’s greatest work outside of his score for the Rosie Grier-Ray Milland drive-in masterwork, The Thing With Two Heads (1972).
Jose Feliciano (1970)
There’s so much more to Jose Feliciano than just “Feliz Navidad” and the theme from Chico and the Man. There’s his zippy rendition of “Satisfaction,” for instance, which highlights the singer-songwriter’s mastery of acoustic guitar acrobatics.
Paul Revere and the Raiders (1966)
The Pacific Northwest’s best, most rocking defense against the British Invasion during the mid-1960s music skirmishes, Paul Revere and the Raiders fired back at those London fancy lads in the Stones with their own interpretation of “Satisfaction.”
Alien Sex Fiend (1988)
Industrial death-disco goth gargoyles Alien Sex Fiend got a lot of ripped fishnets in a bunch back in the late-’80s, but they’ve since sort of fallen through the cracks in the wake of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. This black lipstick brigade’s “Satisfaction” provides a museum piece rendering of the catacombs from which they were crawling forth.
Jerry Lee Lewis (1973)
The Killer adds his own brand of intensity to “Satisfaction” by slowing it down and, remarkably, coating it with fresh dirt.
Guitar Wolf (1994)
Japan’s premiere hyperkinetic punk delinquents slamdance “Satisfaction” into a leather-jacketed noise tsunami that, if you’re not careful, may well snap your neck as you automatically flip out along to it.
Quincy Jones and His Orchestra (1965)
Lush, ornate, and gorgeous, A-plus-list conductor, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Quincy Jones turns “Satisfaction” to a sophisticated night on the town that gives way to a wee-hours groove that shakes loose and lets his assembled world-class symphonic musicians truly strut their stuff.
Fatboy Slim (1999)
EDM’s pioneering cut-and-paste marauder, Fatboy Slim beats down and builds up “The Satisfaction Skank” as a sonic collage centered on the Stones’ anthem that explodes out in a million different directions at once.
David McCallum (1966)
“Space Age Bachelor Pad Music,” a colorful name for what record companies labeled “Easy Listening,” ran as a parallel universe to rock and pop in the 1950s and ’60s. More often than not, the biggest radio hits got converted into the genre’s mellow instrumental mélanges that were created with tiki-themed suburban cocktail parties in mind. There’s nothing weird, then, about “Satisfaction” getting such a treatment, but it becomes a real head-scratcher when you consider that the premiere Easy Listening redo of the song was performed by David McCallum, the dashing blonde action star of TV’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Tom Verlaine’s CBGB art-punks occasionally busted out “Satisfaction” as a live encore. Dig Verlaine’s fret-wrecking guitar adventuring on this track from a San Francisco gig in ’78.
Red Face (1979)
Once disco conquered pop, all manner of old songs (classic and otherwise) got vinyl dance makeovers, from the Tin Pan Alley chestnut “Baby Face” to the theme from I Love Lucy. The disco-fied “Satisfaction” by Red Face features silky strings, a sexy female vocal and, the reason why it’s ranked so high, an undeniable forward pull from the percussion that makes one realize, yes, it would be nigh impossible not to get up and boogie once the DJ dropped this platter.
Jimi Hendrix (1972)
Jimi’s “Satisfaction” is a live recording of him having fun with the song along with Curtis Knight and the Squires, an R&B-fueled rock combo he played guitar for in the mid-’60s. It doesn’t sound like a Jimi Hendrix song, per se, but Curtis’s vocal is killer and, come on, you know Jimi’s going to do what Jimi’s going to do.
The Supremes (1969)
A deep cut from the 2008 release, Diana Ross and the Supremes—Lost and Found: Supreme Rarities, 1960-69, it’s curious as to why this “Satisfaction” didn’t see release at the time it was recorded. It sounds like it would have been a hit—then and forever.
The Troggs (1975)
Rock’s premiere primordial knuckle-draggers bludgeon “Satisfaction” to their own, well, satisfaction, then hold it aloft in snarling, roaring, scuzzed-out triumph.
The Ventures (1965)
Surf rock’s Big Kahuna instrumental moondoggies hop aboard “Satisfaction” and hang ten through the cosmos on waves of fuzz-guitar and Farfisa organ.
Sam & Dave (1966)
Soul men supreme Sam Moore and Dave Prater rev up “Satisfaction” with fantastically passionate vocals and horns that blare with real rock-and-roll fury.
Bjork and PJ Harvey (1994)
Europe’s dominating freak-pop ladies of the ’90s spooked the 1994 Brit awards with their tense, slow-burn “Satisfaction” that simmers but, frighteningly, never explodes, thereby indicating deep wells of desperate longing and goth-tinged madness.
Oscar Peterson Trio and Milt Jackson (1971)
Oscar Peterson’s invigorating piano and Milt Jackson’s superlative vibraphone mastery turn “Satisfaction” into a jazz work so complete, you’ll wonder if that’s not the song’s most natural genre.
Billy Preston (1966)
Keyboardist to the stars—most notably the Beatles and, yes, the Stones—Billy Preston pounds out a rollicking “Satisfaction” on electric piano, further elevated by by his gorgeous voice.
Bruce Springsteen (2014)
The Boss has been peppering his marathon live shows with audience request covers in recent years. Here’s his 2014 “Satisfaction” from Nashville, where he’s accompanied by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.
Cat Power (2000)
Chan Marshall—aka Cat Power—accompanies her own always-haunting vocal with a simple acoustic guitar to transform “Satisfaction” from an outburst of anger into a haunting dirge of regret. Just let her drag you down, man.
Tom Jones (1989)
The incomparable voice of male sex-bomb pop pumps up “Satisfaction” like a series of powder kegs and pushes each detonating plunger with the perfect combination of pomp and passion.
Sly & Robbie (1997)
Jamaican reggae mavens Sly & Robbie rock out on their “Satisfaction,” adding their famous rhythm and percussion to create a pressure cooker feast.
Grateful Dead (1981)
Considering what’s likely thousands of cover tunes performed by the Grateful Dead, it makes perfect sense that, at some point, they’d get to “Satisfaction.” Maybe it’s a surprise then, or maybe not, that their six-and-half-minute expansion of the tight-and-tawdry original so effectively conveys what the Stones had in mind, as filtered through what the Dead had in mind-expansion.
Plus-size guitar maestro Leslie West—aka The Great Fatsby—first recorded "Satisfaction" with his early group, the Vagrants, then perfected his formula with his signature power trio, Mountain. It’s a slow-motion doom metal inferno that swings and bucks and, through sheer heat, consumes all in its path.
Aretha Franklin (1968)
Lady Soul’s “Satisfaction” delivers the goods big-time: this woman is fed-up and now ready to demand what she wants! While not a huge hit at the time, Aretha’s cover remains an oldies radio favorite.
The Assemblage (1973)
Arising from the same Detroit rock pool that begat Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, the Stooges, and the MC5, the Assembly (originally the Stuart Avery Assembly) brilliantly convert “Satisfaction” into a rapturous kaleidoscope of psychedelic grooves, shaking tambourines, white-soul lead vocals, scorching keyboards, and massive backing chorus singing straight out of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s a unique experience, to be sure.
Junior Wells and Buddy Guy (1997)
If you put genius-level blues singer and harmonica player Junior Walker together with genius-level blues guitar god Buddy Guy, you expect some genius-level blues. These bad boys’ dirty breakdown of “Satisfaction” hits every right (low) note.
Blue Cheer (1968)
Acid-blasted proto-metal pillagers Blue Cheer drop “Satisfaction” into the same super-fuzz mayhem-making machinations that turned their “Summertime Blues” into an immortal freak-out. Hold your skull tight while listening.
Otis Redding (1965)
The second best-known version of “Satisfaction” is one of the best rock-and-soul masterworks ever recorded, period. Otis gets lost in the brew originally cooked up by the Stones, intoxicatingly makes it his amped-up own, and takes us along with him. From there, who could ever want to come back?
On their one-of-a-kind remake of “Satisfaction,” new wave pranksters Devo deftly and hilariously translate the energy and laments of a previous rock generation into the new revolution of which they were one of the most daring, innovative forces. Powering up the energy to rocket-levels, running it through modern machinery that pings and blips. Mark Mothersbaugh’s vocals match the song’s intricate, relentless sounds for sheer freaky bliss.
Devo’s take sounds funny, but it’s also serious. In the dozen years separating the Stones’ “Satisfaction” from Devo’s, the world had grown infinitely weirder, with technology driving humans further into isolation from which the only escape might be a total spaz out. Devo’s “Satisfaction” takes us there.