There was much anticipation for the band’s arrival in the United States, since they had not visited there since the 1969 disaster at the Altamont Free Concert, in which a fan was stabbed and beaten to death by Hells Angels, with the incident being caught on camera. Behind the scenes, the tour embodied debauchery, lewdness and hedonism.
The film was shot cinéma vérité, with several cameras available for anyone in the entourage to pick up and start shooting. This allowed the film’s audience to witness backstage parties, drug use (Mick Jagger is seen snorting cocaine backstage),roadie and groupie antics, and the Stones with their defenses down.One scene includes a groupie in a hotel room injecting heroin.
The film came under a court order which forbade it from being shown unless the director Robert Frank was physically present. This ruling stemmed from the conflict that arose when the band, who had commissioned the film, decided that its content was embarrassing and potentially incriminating, and did not want it shown. Frank felt otherwise — hence the ruling.
According to Ray Young, “The salty title notwithstanding, its nudity, needles and hedonism was supposedly incriminating and the picture was shelved – this during a liberal climate that saw the likes of Cry Uncle! and Chafed Elbows playing in neighborhood theatres.” Deep Throat was released in the same year. A Rolling Stones concert film, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, was released instead, and Cocksucker Blues was indefinitely shelved.
The court order in question also enjoined Frank against exhibiting Cocksucker Blues more frequently than four times per year in an ‘archival setting’ with Frank being present. The film was screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in November 2012 as part of a two-week festival, ‘The Rolling Stones: 50 Years on Film’.