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"Play with Fire"
RollStones-Single1965 TheLastTime.jpg
American single picture sleeve
Single by the Rolling Stones
A-side "The Last Time"
  • 26 February 1965 (UK)
  • 13 March 1965 (US)
Format 45 rpm record
Recorded 11 January 1965 – 18 February 1965
Studio RCA, Hollywood, California
Genre Pop
Length 2:14
Songwriter(s) Nanker Phelge
Producer(s) Andrew Loog Oldham

"Play with Fire" is a song by English rock and roll band the Rolling Stones, originally released as B-side to the song "The Last Time". It was later included on the American release of their 1965 album Out of Our Heads.


"Play with Fire" is credited to Nanker Phelge, a pseudonym used when tracks were composed by the entire band, even though lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards are the only Rolling Stones to appear on the track. The song was recorded late one night in January 1965 while the Stones were in Los Angeles recording with Phil Spector at the RCA Studios. Richards performed the song's acoustic guitar opening while Jagger handled vocals and tambourine (enhanced using an echo chamber). Spector played bass (actually a tuned-down electric guitar), and Jack Nitzsche provided the song's distinctive harpsichord arrangement and tamtams. The Stones left for a tour of Australia the following day.[1]

The song's lyrics talk of the singer's relationship with a high society girl, disparaging the lifestyle much in the same way that "19th Nervous Breakdown" would in a more up-tempo feel. The title refers to the idiom "If you play with fire, you will get burned."

In a 1995 interview with Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone, entitled "Jagger Remembers," Jagger said, "'Play with Fire' sounds amazing—when I heard it last. I mean, it's a very in-your-face kind of sound and very clearly done. You can hear all the vocal stuff on it. And I'm playing the tambourines, the vocal line. You know, it's very pretty."[2] According to Richie Unterberger, a friend of the Stones wrote that an unreleased version of the song, entitled "Mess with Fire", was also recorded, featuring a much more upbeat, soul-oriented feel. However, the story is considered dubious by Unterberger[3]

"Play with Fire" went to No. 96 on the U.S. chart. It was also featured on the U.S. version of Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) (1966), Hot Rocks (1971) and Singles Collection: The London Years (1989).

The song was performed in concert during the Rolling Stones' tours of 1965 and 1966, and was revived on their 1989-90 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour.

An extended live version can be found on the 1974 release Live 'n' Kickin' by West, Bruce and Laing.

"Play with Fire" was featured in the 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, directed by Wes Anderson; it also appears on the soundtrack album.

In July 2008, "Play with Fire" became the subject of a lawsuit when ABKCO Music Inc., which owns the rights to The Rolling Stones' early catalogue, filed a suit against Lil Wayne, asserting that the rapper's song "Playing with Fire" is based on the Rolling Stones' song.[4]

In May 2011, "Play with Fire" was featured prominently in the season 6 finale of the show Supernatural.

The song is playable in the music video game Rocksmith.


Cover versions[edit]

In 1971, English singer Ruth Copeland covered "Play with Fire" for her second album I Am What I Am.

English progressive rock group Manfred Mann's Earth Band recorded a cover version for their 1996 album Soft Vengeance.

In 2009, Northern Irish pop punk/new wave band, The Undertones covered "Play with Fire" for Onder Invloed, a project by Dutch journalist Matthijs van der Ven which showcases various musicians from all over the world covering their favorite songs.

Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford stated that the band recorded a cover of the song during the sessions for their 1988 album Ram It Down, and that it was "a shame" that the song didn't make it on the album.

In 2016, The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said that the song "Play With Fire" was the inspiration for the song "Light My Fire".[5]

In 2013, American singer/songwriter Chris Pureka covered "Play with Fire" for her album Chimera II.


  1. ^ "Play With Fire". Time Is On Our Side. 2007 (accessed 8 May 2007).
  2. ^ "Jagger Remembers". Rolling Stone. 14 December 1995 (accessed 7 July 2010).
  3. ^ Unterberger, Richie "Play With Fire". allmusic. 2007 (accessed 8 May 2007).
  4. ^ Honan, Edith (24 July 2008). "Lil Wayne Sued Over Stones Song". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  5. ^


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