19th Nervous Breakdown

"19th Nervous Breakdown" is a song by the English rock band the Rolling Stones. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards,[1] it was recorded in late 1965 and released as a single in February 1966. It reached number 2 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Britain's Record Retailer chart (subsequently the UK Singles Chart), while topping the charts compiled by Cash Box and NME.

"19th Nervous Breakdown"
1966 German single picture sleeve
Single by the Rolling Stones
  • 5 February 1966 (1966-02-05) (UK)
  • 12 February 1966 (US)
Format7-inch single
Recorded3–8 December 1965
StudioRCA, Hollywood, California
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham
Rolling Stones UK singles chronology
"Get Off of My Cloud"
"19th Nervous Breakdown"
"Paint It Black"
Rolling Stones US singles chronology
"As Tears Go By"
"19th Nervous Breakdown"
"Paint It Black"
Audio sample
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Composition and recording

The song was written during the group's October–December 1965 tour of the United States and recorded at the conclusion of their fourth North American tour during the Aftermath album sessions, between 3 and 8 December 1965 at RCA Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.

Jagger came up with the title first and then wrote the lyrics around it. The opening guitar figure is played by Keith Richards while in the verses Brian Jones plays a bass-note figure that derives from "Diddley Daddy" by Bo Diddley, a major influence on the Rolling Stones' style.[2][3] Here the riff is extended into a long blues chord progression behind verbose lyrics similar to those of their previous UK single, "Get Off of My Cloud", and the verse alternates with a bridge theme. The track is also known for Bill Wyman's so-called "dive-bombing" bass line at the end. At almost four minutes' duration, it is long by the standards of the time.

Like many early Rolling Stones recordings, "19th Nervous Breakdown" has been officially released only in mono sound. A rather weak stereo mix (as well as being about 20 seconds shorter) of the song has turned up in private and bootleg collections.[4] One version of the stereo mix features a radically different vocal from Jagger, who alternates between mellow on the verses and rawer on the chorus.



"19th Nervous Breakdown" was released as a single on 4 February 1966 in the UK and reached number 2 on the Record Retailer chart. However, it was number 1 on the NME Top 30, for three weeks,[6] and the BBC's Pick of the Pops charts, both widely recognised in Britain at the time. "19th Nervous Breakdown" was also the fifth best-selling single of 1966 in the UK, achieving greater full-year sales than both Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", which had prevented it from reaching number 1 in Record Retailer, and the Rolling Stones' next single release, "Paint It Black", which topped the same chart for a week at the end of May 1966.[7]

"19th Nervous Breakdown" was released on 12 February 1966 in the US and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind "Ballad of the Green Berets" by S/Sgt. Barry Sadler) and number 1 on the Cash Box Top 100.[8] It was one of three songs – "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "As Tears Go By" being the other two – that the Rolling Stones performed on their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in the US in February 1966.

In 2016, a previously unreleased alternate mono mix of the track appeared on Stray Cats, a compilation of singles and non-album tracks, in the box set The Rolling Stones in Mono.

Chart performance

Chart (1966) Peak
Canada (RPM Mag.)[9] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[10] 2
New Zealand (Listener)[11] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[12] 2
South Africa (Springbok)[13] 2
United Kingdom (Record Retailer)[14] 2
United Kingdom (NME)[15] 1
United States (Billboard Hot 100)[16] 2
United States (Billboard R&B Singles Chart)[16] 32
West Germany (Official German Charts)[17] 1


  1. Mick Jagger interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  2. Bo Diddley – The Story Of Bo Diddley: album review
  3. 19th Nervous Breakdown at AllMusic
  4. "The Rolling Stones In Stereo". Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  5. "19th Nervous Breakdown". rollingtimes.org. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  6. Wyman, Bill (2002). Rolling with the Stones. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 218. ISBN 0-7513-4646-2.
  7. "The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1966 [in the U.K.]". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  8. Bonanno, Massimo (1990). The Rolling Stones Chronicle: The First Thirty Years. London: Plexus. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-859651356.
  9. "RPM 100" (PDF). RPM. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  10. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  11. Flavour of New Zealand, 1 April 1966
  12. "Norwegiancharts.com – The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown". VG-lista. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  13. "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  14. "Featured Artist: Rolling Stones". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  15. Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Osborne, Roger (1995). Forty Years of "NME" Charts (2nd ed.). Pan Macmillan. p. 164. ISBN 0-7522-0829-2.
  16. The Rolling Stones > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  17. "Offiziellecharts.de – The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 19 June 2016.

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