Friday, October 16, 2015

Rolling Clones: Tumblin' Dice

In the late 1970s, Linda Ronstadt was the female vocalist of the era. Beginning in 1975 with the #1 “You’re No Good,” she effortlessly charted with hit after hit.  Besides that, she was easy on the eyes, and that is always a plus for a talented performer of any gender. Her triple platinum, eighth studio album, “Simple Dreams,” produced a number of hit records that were covers of other artists’ material. Beginning in 1977, she charted with Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” (#3), Buddy Holly’s “It’s So Easy” (#5), and Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” (#31).

In 1978, Asylum decided to release two separate promo singles E45479-A “Tumblin’ Dice” and E45479-B “I Never Will Marry” to different radio audiences. Although the traditional “I Never Will Marry” is often erroneously reported as the A-side, the song is clearly identified as the B side in the numbering of both the promotional and commercial singles.

While “I Never Will Marry” didn’t place on the pop charts (and why would it?), this ballad hit #30 on the Adult Contemporary side and made it to the Top Ten on the country charts where it peaked at #8. The actual “A” side, “Tumblin’ Dice,” was the choice of Top 40 radio.

Her remake of this Rolling Stones’ classic garnered airplay and peaked at #32 on the Hot 100. Six years earlier, The Stones had a Top Ten hit with “Tumblin’ Dice” and took this first single from “Exile on Main Street” all the way to #7. In addition to the single’s success in America, Ronstadt’s version charted in Canada at #35. A live version also made it to the soundtrack to the 1978 film “FM.” It is the only cover song in our “Rolling Clones” feature that charted.

According to Ronstadt, Mick Jagger suggested that she add some heavier songs to her repertoire. Since her band was already playing “Tumblin’ Dice” as an instrumental for sound checks, she asked Mick to supply the words and the rest, as they say, is history.

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