The 50 Best Rolling Stones Covers
It’s rather presumptuous to call yourself the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World, but when you’ve got a catalog of songs as impressive as the Rolling Stones’, the label might be true.
Over its legendary career, spanning more than 60 years, the iconic English band has written some of the greatest tunes in the history of music. From straight-ahead rockers to songs tinged with blues, soul, country and even dance influences, the Stones have proven a mastery for every genre they’ve touched.
Given their stature and ongoing influence on other artists, it’s no surprise that the Stones remain one of the most covered acts in rock music. And while YouTube is littered with wannabe stars delivering off-key versions of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and toothless renditions of “Gimme Shelter,” many fellow musicians have found new and distinctive ways to reinterpret classic Stones’ songs.
We pored through the muck to find the 50 Best Rolling Stones Covers.
David Bowie, "Let’s Spend the Night Together” (1973)
The Stones released “Let’s Spend the Night Together” on their 1967 album Between the Buttons. The track was also a double A-side single with “Ruby Tuesday” and became a moderate hit in the U.K. - though its sexual nature resulted in less airplay in the U.S. Six years later, David Bowie gave the song a glam-rock makeover, adding layers of synthesizer and upping the tempo. The singer - then in the midst of his Ziggy Stardust phase - released his version on his 1973 LP Aladdin Sane.
Johnny Cash, “No Expectations” (1978)
The Man in Black delivered a rousing rendition of “No Expectations” on his 1978 LP Gone Girl. While the Stones’ original - released in 1968 on their Beggars Banquet album - was a more subdued affair, Cash ramped up the track’s energy with chugging guitar, soulful backing singers and an emphatic harmonica solo.
Devo, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1978)
Devo’s quirky interpretation of this classic Stones hit became a breakthrough tune for the Akron group. The version evolved during one of the band’s jam sessions. At first, frontman Mark Mothersbaugh - an ardent Stones fan - began singing “Paint It, Black” over his bandmates' bizarre beat. When the words didn’t match the rhythm, he switched to the lyrics of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” ... and a legendary cover was born. Just prior to its 1978 release, Devo played their version for Mick Jagger. After initially showing no response to the track, the Stones singer “suddenly stood up and started dancing around on this Afghan rug in front of the fireplace,” Gerald Casale recalled in a conversation with The New Yorker. Jagger gave his blessing, and Devo would soon be performing the song on Saturday Night Live.
Tegan and Sara, “Fool to Cry” (2013)
Twin sister pop-rock duo Tegan and Sara tackled the Stones’ “Fool to Cry” for the soundtrack to the HBO series Girls. While the original 1976 version was a smooth, soulful ballad, this cover featured layers of synths, drums and guitars, resulting in a rich modern update.
Linda Ronstadt, “Tumbling Dice” (1978)
In a 1978 interview with Hit Parader magazine, Linda Ronstadt explained how “Tumbling Dice” was added to her repertoire. “The band used to play that all last summer at soundcheck,” the singer noted. “I really loved it too, but nobody knew the words. Then Mick came backstage when I was at the Universal Amphitheater and he said, ‘You do too many ballads, you should do more rock 'n' roll songs.’” The two vocalists traded friendly banter, with Ronstadt suggesting Jagger do more ballads. Describing the Stones frontman as “the greatest contemporary rock 'n' roll singer, rock 'n' roll writer,” Ronstadt literally forced his hand. “I made him write down the words to that song, and I learned it.”
Guns N’ Roses, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (2018)
This Rolling Stones cover was among the bonus material included in Guns N’ Roses’ 2018 remastered Appetite for Destruction box set. Recorded during a 1986 session at the Sound City studios in Van Nuys, Calif., the track sees GNR delivering a high-octane version of “Jumpin Jack Flash.” The guitars are loud, Axl Rose’s wail is powerful and the energy is palpable from the opening note. Three years after recording the track, GNR would open for the Stones at Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum, a performance remembered more for its chaos than its music.
The Who, “Under My Thumb” (1967)
Though not included on the original release of the Who’s rarities and outtakes album Odds & Sods, the band’s cover of “Under My Thumb” would make its way to both the 1998 and 2011 reissues of the LP. The Who recorded the song in 1967 as a show of support when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were being held in England on drug charges.
Elton John, “Honky Tonk Women” (1971)
A little more that a year after the original’s release, Elton John covered the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” during a radio broadcast in New York. The performance would eventually turn into the singer’s 11-17-70 live album, released in 1971. Notably, John’s version supplants the Stones' guitar sound with John’s distinctive style of blistering piano.
Jane’s Addiction, “Sympathy for the Devil” (1987)
The self-titled debut album by Jane’s Addiction was largely recorded during a performance at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles. Included on the 1987 release was their version of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” For their cover, Perry Farrell and company amped up the psychedelia, adding bongos and swirling sounds to the arrangement. Dave Navarro also makes his presence felt with some searing guitar solos.
Albert King, “Honky Tonk Women” (1971)
It’s no secret that the Stones were inspired by American blues musicians, and they don’t come much more influential than Albert King. It must have been a source of pride when the Velvet Bulldozer decided to cover “Honky Tonk Woman” on his 1971 album Lovejoy. As you’d expect, the rendition is filled with fantastic guitar solos and soulful vocals. Backing by the legendary Muscle Shoals rhythm section further elevates the track.
U2, “Paint It Black” (1992)
U2 straddle their early punk sound and more pop leanings on this version of the Stones’ “Paint It Black.” The cover was released as the B-side to U2’s 1992 single “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.” While the vibe is less menacing than the original, Dublin’s finest added some tambourine, harmonies, vocal effects and explosive guitar, making it their own while also staying true to the original.
Elvis Costello & Lucinda Williams, “Wild Horses” (2002)
CMT Crossroads has welcomed some amazing guests during its two-decade TV run. The show, which brings together country artists and musicians from other genres, premiered on Jan. 13, 2002. In that debut episode, alt-country star Lucinda Williams sang alongside rock legend Elvis Costello. Before their rendition of “Wild Horses,” the latter singer explained that the song “got me thinking about this kinda music” back when it was originally released by the Stones in 1971.
Lindsey Buckingham, “She Smiled Sweetly” (2011)
Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham kept things simple on this cover of the Stones’ “She Smiles Sweetly.” While the original featured drums, bass and organ, Buckingham decided to take a minimalist approach, stripping things back to only vocals and acoustic guitar. The result is a distinctive and poignant rendition, which was featured on Buckingham’s 2011 solo LP Seeds We Sow.
The Allman Brothers Band, “Heart of Stone” (2003)
By the time they released their 12th and final album, the Allman Brothers Band bared little resemblance to their original selves. Gone were Duane Allman, Berry Oakley and Dickey Betts, with Gregg Allman, Jaimoe Johanson and Butch Trucks the remaining original members. Still, lineup changes didn’t stop the band from delivering a powerful cover of the Rolling Stones’ 1964 single “Heart of Stone.”
The Folksmen, “Start Me Up” (2003)
The fictitious folk band - made up of Spinal Tap's Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer - is best known for its part in the 2003 mockumentary A Mighty Wind. Their rendition of the Stones’ classic “Start Me Up” was featured on the film’s soundtrack, while the trio also performed the song during promotional appearances. In the clip here, late-night host Conan O’Brien asks if the Folksmen have heard from the Stones regarding their cover. “Ominous silence,” responds McKean in character as Mark Shubb.
Rag N’ Bone Man, “Gimme Shelter” (2017)
British singer-songwriter Rag N’ Bone Man delivered this cover of the Stones' “Gimme Shelter” in 2017 as part of BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. The slow-burning rendition explodes about halfway through, the power of the soulful vocal delivery matched only by the soaring riffs of the guitarist.
Eric Burdon & War, “Paint It Black” (1970)
A rendition for those who listened to the Stones original and thought, “This would be great if it was three times longer.” Psychedelic funk jam band Eric Burdon & War scored a minor hit with their version of “Paint It Black” when it was released in 1970.
Motorhead, “Sympathy for the Devil” (2015)
This version of “Sympathy for the Devil” had the honor of being the final song on Motorhead’s final album. The band’s Bad Magic LP was released in August 2015, just four months before the death of frontman Lemmy Kilmister. Amazingly, the metal icon still sounded great on the track, giving the vocals his signature snarl.
Cat Power, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (2000)
Singer-songwriter Cat Power has won over fans and fellow artists alike with her distinctive style of indie rock. She's collaborated with many great artists over the years, including Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder and Iggy Pop. On her 2000 LP The Covers Record, the singer re-imagined some of her favorite tunes, including this sultry rendition of the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
The Soup Dragons, “I’m Free” (1990)
Scottish alt-rockers the Soup Dragons scored a hit with their 1990 rendition of the Stones' “I’m Free.” The cover - which added a dance rhythm and reggae jolt to the track - was a Top 10 hit in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Alternative songs chart in the States.
The Sundays, “Wild Horses” (1992)
Amid the mid-’90s infatuation with emotive female-fronted acoustic rock emerged this cover of the Stones' “Wild Horses.” The rendition, delivered by English band the Sundays, would receive significant radio airplay while also appearing in the film Fear, the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a commercial for Budweiser.
Scorpions, “Ruby Tuesday” (2011)
German heavy rockers the Scorpions recorded this version of “Ruby Tuesday” for their 2011 compilation album, Comeblack. The release - which saw the group covering a handful of tunes from other artists, as well as re-recording their own classic tracks - was a comeback of sorts, given that the German group had unveiled its “final” LP, Sting in the Tail, just a year earlier.
Betty LaVette, "Salt of the Earth” (2010)
R&B singer Betty LaVette lent her powerful voice to this gorgeous rendition of the Stones’ working-class anthem “Salt of the Earth.” While the original, released on 1968’s Beggars Banquet, felt more like an upbeat jam, LaVette turned things down, adding a horn section and organ to her soulful interpretation. The cover was featured on the singer’s 2010 covers LP Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook.
Social Distortion, “Under My Thumb” (1996)
Venerable punk rock group Social Distortion added aggression and frenzied enthusiasm to the Stones' “Under My Thumb” in this cover, released in 1996 on their White Light, White Heat, White Trash LP. Frontman Mike Ness has long professed his admiration for the British rockers, noting in a 2018 interview with Consequence of Sound that Social D’s brand of music falls “somewhere in between” the Stones and the Ramones.
Little Richard, “Brown Sugar” (1971)
Like many musicians, Mick Jagger had an unfaltering appreciation of Little Richard. The Stones frontman was especially impressed by the rock 'n' roll pioneer's “hold on the audience.” “I couldn’t believe the power,” Jagger once said of watching Richard perform, adding that the rock icon was his “first idol.” It’s safe to assume then that Jagger was over the moon when Little Richard decided to cover the Stones' “Brown Sugar” in October 1971, just six months after the original’s release.
Peter Frampton, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1972)
It’s always exciting when one rock icon covers another, and this effort by Peter Frampton is no exception. The legendary musician turned “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” into a fiery groove, featuring several moments of instrumental exuberance. It was the only non-Frampton-penned track to appear on his debut solo album, 1972’s Wind of Change. A live rendition also appeared on the rocker’s seminal 1976 live LP, Frampton Comes Alive!
Def Leppard, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1992)
It's not exactly what you'd expect from one of the biggest and best hard-rock bands of the past four decades, but Def Leppard’s cover of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is a notably stripped-down, acoustic gem. It was released on the deluxe edition of the band’s 1992 LP Adrenalize. Celtic influences on the track come via Hothouse Flowers, the Irish group that collaborated on this cover song.
Liz Phair, “Mother’s Little Helper” (2005)
Singer-songwriter Liz Phair recorded her cover of “Mother’s Little Helper” for the 2005 soundtrack album to the TV show Desperate Housewives. The Stones' ode to drug-addicted homebodies receives an infusion of venom in Phair’s hands, the singer expelling the tune’s catchy yet dark lyrics with a hauntingly poignant delivery.
PP Arnold, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (2017)
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, soul singer PP Arnold recorded a collection of songs that was meant to appear on her album The Turning Tide. The LP, produced by Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, got caught up in record-label red tape and didn’t see the light of day until 2017. Amazingly, given the time that passed, the recordings did not lose any of their emotional impact, including Arnold’s powerful cover of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The Holmes Brothers, “Beast of Burden” (1997)
In 1997, House of Blues released a compilation album titled Paint It, Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones. As the name implies, the LP featured an assortment of Stones classic re-imagined by various blues artists. Among the highlights was this cover of “Beast of Burden” by the Holmes Brothers.
Tori Amos, “Angie” (1992)
Tori Amos brought her distinctive brand of piano and vocals to this cover of “Angie,” released in 1992 on the singer’s Crucify EP. Though the Stones’ original was already a a ballad lamenting lost love, the anguish and emotion is ramped up in the hands of Amos, the singer seemingly on the verge of tears at various points in the track. The result is both gut-wrenching and beautiful.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, “Star Star” (1983)
One of the raunchiest songs in the Stones catalog also proved controversial for Joan Jett. The singer included an uncensored version of "Star Star" as a hidden track on the cassette version of her band's 1983 LP Album. Outraged by the song, several retail chains, including Walmart, refused to sell the release. The cover later reappeared on Jett’s 1993 compilation Flashback.
Stone Sour feat. Lizzy Hale, “Gimme Shelter” (2015)
The Corey Taylor-fronted hard-rock group Stone Sour unveiled an EP of covers titled Straight Outta Burbank as a limited-edition release for 2015’s Record Stone Day. The highlight of the EP was this powerful cover of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," with guest appearance by Lizzy Hale of metal band Halestorm.
Tina Turner, “Under My Thumb” (1975)
R&B legend Tina Turner turned the Stones' classic “Under My Thumb” on its head for this 1975 cover. While the original tune tells the tale of a man who has gained control in a sexual relationship, Turner flipped the script, making the woman the dominant force. In doing so, the singer also transformed “Under My Thumb” into an unexpected celebration of female empowerment.
Otis Redding, “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)
Soul icon Otis Redding released his version of “Satisfaction” in September 1965, just a handful of months after the Rolling Stones released their original. For his interpretation, Redding dropped the tune’s recognizable guitar part, instead enlisting a funky horn section. The result is a rendition that somehow stays true to the original while also feeling completely one-of-a-kind. The cover was featured on Redding’s beloved Otis Blue LP, an album often ranked among the greatest of all time.
La Roux, “Under My Thumb” (2010)
Grammy-winning electronic duo La Roux released their version of “Under My Thumb” as part of 2010’s Sidetrack compilation release. The cover is a far cry of the original, with the Stones' classic rock sound replaced by synthesizers and a driving dance beat. Some may criticize the track for straying too far from the original. Instead, we’ll celebrate La Roux’s bold reinvention of the song.
Prince, “Honky Tonk Woman” (1995)
Years before Purple Rain made him a star, Prince was invited by Mick Jagger to open for the Rolling Stones at a couple of concerts in Los Angeles. Infamously, the performances didn’t go well, with the Purple One getting booed off the stage. Still, Prince’s respect for the Stones never waned, and he occasionally performed several of the band’s songs in concert throughout his career. In 1995, this one-take version of “Honky Tony Woman” was included on Prince's VHS release The Undertaker.
Rage Against the Machine, “Street Fighting Man” (2000)
In 2000, hard rockers Rage Against the Machine decided to honor some of their major musical influences with a covers album titled Renegades. The release included work penned by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Stooges, Devo and the Rolling Stones. Rage’s version of “Street Fighting Man” brimmed with angst, energy and aggression, exactly what you’d expect from the vaunted political rockers.
Aretha Franklin, “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” (1968)
The queen of soul put her own distinctive spin on the Stones hit, releasing her interpretation of “Satisfaction” in 1968. Aretha Franklin and the Stones would forge mutual respect for one another over the years, with Mick Jagger even briefly appearing in the concert documentary Amazing Grace (filmed in 1972 but not released until 2019). Upon Franklin’s death in 2018, the Stones' frontman said, “She was so inspiring, and wherever you were she always brought you to church.”
Oasis, “Street Fighting Man” (1998)
Oasis released this cover of “Street Fighting Man” as the B-side to their 1998 single “All Around the World.” In 2008, guitarist Noel Gallagher compared his band to the Stones. “Oasis is a band that you either get it or you don't. Everybody knows who we are. You have to see us in league with the Rolling Stones now,” he remarked. Is anyone surprised?
Soundgarden, “Stray Cat Blues” (1991)
The Stones' filthy ode to an underage groupie received a grunge makeover in this rendition by Soundgarden. Released as the B-side to the Seattle rockers’ 1991 single “Jesus Christ Pose,” the cover is highlighted by Kim Thayil’s scotching guitar and Chris Cornell’s forceful vocals.
Tesla, “Mother’s Little Helper” (1990)
Tesla are normally known for cranking up the noise, which is why it came as a surprise when the group traded its amps for acoustic guitars for the 1990 live album Five Man Acoustical Jam. The LP saw the Sacramento rockers re-imagining a handful of their own songs, while also covering a variety of other artists. Included in the release was this version of “Mother’s Little Helper.”
Kiss, “2000 Man” (1979)
In comparison to some of the other songs on this list, “2000 Man” ranks as a lesser-known Stones song. Still, that didn’t stop makeup-wearing rockers - and future Rock & Roll Hall of Famers - Kiss from covering the tune on their 1979 album Dynasty. Guitarist Ace Frehley took lead vocals on the track, which also appeared on the 1996 live album Kiss Unplugged.
Susan Tedeschi, “You Got the Silver” (2005)
The first Stones song to feature Keith Richards on lead vocal throughout, “You Got the Silver” was originally released in 1969 on Let it Bleed. Thirty-six years later, Susan Tedeschi included this version on her 2005 covers album, Hope and Desire. In her hands, the track receives more country and blues influences than the original, including wailing guitar part delivered by husband Derek Trucks.
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, "Sway” (2011)
In 2011, Mojo magazine recruited an assortment of acts for their Rolling Stones tribute album Sticky Soul Fingers. One of the standout tracks from the release was this blues-rock cover of “Sway,” delivered by Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, “Wild Horses” (2011)
Another highlight from Mojo’s Sticky Soul Fingers compilation was this emphatic rendition of “Wild Horses” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Though the original was a breezy acoustic ballad, Jones ramped up the energy with a vibrant and soulful interpretation.
Meat Puppets, “What to Do” (1999)
When influential rock trio Meat Puppets re-released their sophomore album, Meat Puppets II, in 1999, they included a handful of previously unavailable tracks. Among them was this cover of the early Stones tune “What to Do.”
Phish, “Loving Cup” (2010)
Jam band Phish have made the Stones’ “Loving Cup” a regular part of their live set list for more than a decade. The tune - originally released on the Stones' iconic 1972 LP Exile on Main St. - has also appeared on several Phish live albums, including At the Roxy, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, Amsterdam and the 2010 concert film Phish 3D.
Marianne Faithfull, “As Tears Go By” (1964)
The rare case where the cover came out before the Stones’, Marianne Faithfull released her version of “As Tears Go By” in 1964. The song, which had been penned by Richards and Jagger, became Faithfull’s breakthrough hit, peaking at No. 9 on the U.K. chart. The Stones would release their version in December 1965, right around the time Jagger and Faithfull became the It Couple of the swinging ‘60s.
Chevy Metal, “Miss You” (2017)
The side project of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, Chevy Metal have developed a passionate following thanks to their lively versions of many classic-rock tracks. The group regularly covers artists like Queen, Van Halen, Motley Crue, the Doors and the Beatles during their energetic live shows. Here, the band, joined by fellow Foo Dave Grohl, delivers its rendition of the Rolling Stones’ 1978 chart-topper “Miss You.”