Stones fan since the 1960s.
FORMED: January 1963, London, England
By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves the World's Greatest Rock &
Roll Band in the late '60s, they had already staked out an impressive claim on the title.
As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Merseybeat of the Beatles in
the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock
& roll that came to define hard rock.
·With his preening machismo and latent
maliciousness, Mick Jagger became the prototypical rock frontman, tempering his macho
showmanship with a detached, campy irony, while Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote the
blueprint for sinewy, interlocking rhythm guitars. Backed by the strong, yet subtly
swinging rhythm section of bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, the Stones became
the breakout band of the British blues scene, eclipsing such contemporaries as the Animals
·Over the course of their career, the Stones never really abandoned blues, but as
soon as they reached popularity in the U.K., they began experimenting musically,
incorporating the British pop of contemporaries like the Beatles, Kinks and Who into their
sound. After a brief dalliance with psychedelia, the Stones re-emerged in the late '60s as
a jaded, blues-soaked hard rock quintet.
·The Stones always
flirted with the seedy side of rock & roll, but as the hippie dream began to break
apart, they exposed and reveled in the new rock culture. It wasn't without difficulty, of
course. Shortly after he was fired from the group, Jones was found dead in a swimming
pool, while at a 1969 free concert at Altamont, a concertgoer was brutally murdered during
the Stones' show. But the Stones never stopped going.
For the next thirty years, they
continued to record and perform, and while their records weren't always blockbusters, they
were never less than the most visible band of their era -- certainly, none of their
British peers continued to be as popular or productive as the Stones. And no band since
has proven to have such a broad fan base or far-reaching popularity, and it is impossible
to hear any of the groups that followed them without detecting some sort of influence,
whether it was musical or aesthetic.
·Throughout their career, Mick Jagger (vocals) and Keith Richards (guitar, vocals) remained at the core of
the Rolling Stones. The pair initially met as children at Dartford Maypole County Primary
School. They drifted apart over the next ten years, eventually making each other's
acquaintance again in 1960, when they met through a mutual friend, Dick Taylor, who was
attending Sidcup Art School with Richards. At the time, Jagger was studying at the London
School of Economics and playing with Taylor in the blues band Little Boy Blue and the Blue
Boys. Shortly afterward, Richards joined the band. Within a year, they had met Brian Jones
(guitar, vocals), a Cheltenham native who had dropped out of school to play saxophone and
·By the time he became a fixture on the British blues scene, Jones had already
had a wild life. He ran away to Scandinavia when he was 16; by that time, he had already
fathered two illegitimate children. He returned to Cheltenham after a few months, where he
began playing with the Ramrods. Shortly afterward, he moved to London. where he played in
Alexis Korner's group, Blues Inc. Jones quickly decided he wanted to form his own group
and advertised for members; among those he recruited was the heavyset blues pianist Ian
·As he played with his group, Jones also moonlighted under the name Elmo Jones at the
Ealing Blues Club. At the pub, he became reacquainted with Blues, Inc., which now featured
drummer Charlie Watts, and, on occasion, cameos by Jagger and Richards. Jones became
friends with Jagger and Richards, and they soon began playing together with Dick Taylor
and Ian Stewart; during this time, Mick was elevated to the status of Blues Inc.'s lead
·With the assistance of drummer Tony Chapman, the fledgling band recorded a demo
tape. After the tape was rejected by EMI, Taylor left the band to attend the Royal College
of Art; he would later form the Pretty Things. Before Taylor's departure, the group named
themselves the Rolling Stones, borrowing the moniker from a Muddy Waters song.
·The Rolling Stones gave their first performance at the Marquee Club in London on July
12, 1962. At the time, the group consisted of Jagger, Richards, Jones, pianist Ian
Stewart, drummer Mick Avory and Dick Taylor, who had briefly returned to the fold. Weeks
after the concert, Taylor left again and was replaced by Bill Wyman, formerly of the
Cliftons. Avory also left the group -- he would later join the Kinks -- and the Stones
hired Tony Chapman, who proved to be unsatisfactory.
·After a few months of persuasion, the
band recruited Charlie Watts, who had quit Blues Inc. to work at an advertising agency
once the group's schedule became too hectic. By 1963, the band's lineup had been set, and
the Stones began an eight-month residency at the Crawdaddy Club, which proved to
substantially increase their fan base. It also attracted the attention of Andrew Loog
Oldham, who became the Stones' manager, signing them from underneath Crawdaddy's Giorgio
·Although Oldham didn't know much about music, he was gifted at promotion, and he
latched upon the idea of fashioning the Stones as the bad-boy opposition to the clean-cut
Beatles. At his insistence, the large yet meek Stewart was forced out of the group, since
his appearance contrasted with the rest of the group. Stewart didn't disappear from the
Stones; he became one of their key roadies and played on their albums and tours until his
death in 1985.
·With Oldham's help, the Rolling Stones signed with Decca Records, and that June, they
released their debut single, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On." The single
became a minor hit, reaching number 21, and the group supported it with appearances on
festivals and package tours. At the end of the year, they released a version of
Lennon-McCartney's "I Wanna Be Your Man" which soared into the Top 15. Early in
1964, they released a cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," which shot to
number three. "Not Fade Away" became their first American hit, reaching number
48 that spring. By that time, the Stones were notorious in their homeland. Considerably
rougher and sexier than the Beatles, the Stones were the subject of numerous
sensationalistic articles in the British press, culminating in a story about the band
urinating in public.
·All of these stories cemented the Stones as a dangerous, rebellious band in the minds
of the public, and had the effect of beginning a manufactured rivalry between them and the
Beatles, which helped the group rocket to popularity in the U.S. In the spring of 1964,
the Stones released their eponymous debut album, which was followed by "It's All Over
Now," their first U.K. number one. That summer, they toured America to riotous
crowds, recording the Five By Five EP at Chess Records in Chicago in the midst of the
tour. By the time it was over, they had another number one U.K. single with Howlin' Wolf's
"Little Red Rooster."
·Although the Stones had achieved massive popularity,
Oldham decided to push Jagger and Richards into composing their own songs, since they --
and his publishing company -- would receive more money that away. In June of 1964, the
group released their first original single "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)," which
became their first American Top 40 hit. Shortly afterward, a version of Irma Thomas'
"Time Is On My Side" became their first U.S. Top Ten.
·It was followed by
"The Last Time" in early 1965, a number one U.K. and Top Ten U.S. hit that began
a virtually uninterrupted string of Jagger-Richards hit singles. Still, it wasn't until
the group released "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in the summer of 1965 that
they were elevated to superstars. Driven by a fuzz-guitar riff designed to replicate the
sound of a horn section, "Satisfaction" signaled that Jagger and Richards had
come into their own as songwriters, breaking away from their blues roots and developing a
signature style of big, bluesy riffs and wry, sardonic lyrics.
·It stayed at number one for
four weeks and began a string of Top Ten singles that ran for the next two years,
including such classics as "Get Off My Cloud," "19th Nervous
Breakdown," "As Tears Go By" and "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby,
Standing in the Shadow?"