Often praised as the pinnacle of the Rolling Stones’ fusion of American roots music and rock ’n’ roll, 1972’s Exile on Main St. has achieved almost mythical status. We try to sort the wild legends from the (just as bonkers) truth with 25 Little-Known Exile on Main St. Facts.

In the early ’70s, after extricating themselves from some horrific business deals, the Stones discovered that they owed their homeland piles and piles of money in taxes – much more than they could afford to fork over. To avoid any penalties, they ditched England for France, which agreed to take in the rock stars, as long as they stayed for a year and spent a bunch of money. However, they didn’t realize that Keith Richards would spend the majority of his money on heroin.

Each of the five Stones (Richards, Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts) bought or rented a place in France and the plan was to find a studio along the French Riviera in which to make a new LP. When nothing suitable appeared, the band decided to employ its mobile recording truck and use the basement of Richards' mansion – Nellcôte, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, close to Nice.

Although Nellcôte became a den of iniquity, Richards was on smack (as were many of Stones associates), and Jagger’s attentions were sometimes diverted by his new marriage and baby, the band somehow managed to deliver a body of sounds steeped in blues, soul, country and early rock ’n’ roll. When the proceedings moved to Los Angeles to gain shape, the band also drew on earlier work recorded in England and added new tracks. With a sprawling assembly of songs on their hands, Jagger and Richards decided to release the Stones’ first double LP. Exile on Main St. arrived on May 12, 1972.

The record was initially perceived as a flop, but eventually earned praise as one of rock’s all-time greatest albums. Exile became known not just for its incredible, hazy aesthetic and strung-out songwriting, but also for the sinister circus that was rumored to surround the music’s creation. Let’s shine a light on some little-known facts about Exile on Main St.

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