During their 1970 recording sessions (March-May, June-July, and October) at Stargroves (with the Rolling Stones Mobile) and Olympic Sound Studios the Rolling Stones worked on some 30 tracks, which ended up on the upcoming* "Sticky Fingers" album, but also on the band's 1972 masterpiece, "Exile On Main St.". Piano and organ parts during these sessions were shared by Ian Stewart, Nicky Hopkins and newcomer to the Stones' inner circle Billy Preston, who had found brief pop fame with the Beatles in 1969 when he had played keyboards on 'Get Back' and 'Don't Let Me Down'.
'Sweet Virginia', which was finished in 1971-1972 and included on "Exile", originates from the June-July sessions, and features Stu on piano. Author James Hector on this pure (but also drug-related) country song: "The nearest the Stones ever got to a round-the-campfire song, though Baden-Powell probably wouldn't have appreciated the refrain. "Got to scrape the shit right of your shoes" suggested that the song may have been an obscure slant on the old standard 'Walkin' Blues', but the blues (and the reds and the greens for that matter) referred to in the song were in tablet form. If one Stones' song was written by Keith Richards and Gram Parsons up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, 'Sweet Virginia' must have been it".
* The "Sticky Fingers" album, now almost complete, was left in the can until the outcome of publishing rights trials. The album featured a host of musicians and took seven months to record but, due to protracted record company deals and various law suits, was not released for a further six to eight months.
Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.
James Hector, The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones, Omnibus Press, 1995.
Suggested further reading:
Bill Janovitz, Exile On Main St., Continuum, 2005.