For several reasons, the Rolling Stones decided not to tour after the release of "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll". Instead, a next recording session at Musicland Studios, Munich, was booked for the end of the year (December 7-15, 1974). In the meantime, Mick Taylor was seriously considering his position in the band. He could not be persuaded to stay and resigned. On December 12, 1974 The Rolling Stones officially announced Mick Taylor's departure from the band.
Neither Mick Jagger nor Keith Richards were shaken enough by Taylor's departure to abandon plans for the next studio album. Sessions for what would become "Black And Blue" began according to schedule in Munich. That meant the Stones were once again a quartet, just as they had been during the making of "Let It Bleed". The only other musicians around were Ian Stewart (who didn't play) and Nicky Hopkins, who was recording his last session with the Stones.
After eight years as an important band member he managed to join the escape party with Mick Taylor; it marked the end of a profound period, often referred to as "the Rolling Stones' golden age". So at the end of 1974 the Stones, basically being a two-guitar band, needed a second guitarist, someone to fill in the band's new empty spaces. It would prove a hotly contested gig, and recording sessions for the new album were all of a sudden transformed into auditions for Taylor's replacement.
Adapted from the following sources:
Steve Appleford, The Rolling Stones - The Stories Behind The Biggest Songs, Carlton Books, 2010.
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.