The band is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, earning the citation by critical acclaim and popular notion as the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band. It has sold more than 200 million albums all over the world. It has released 24 studio albums and 12 live albums. It has the distinction of having eight straight albums going to the top of the charts. Billboard Magazine considers it the second most successful band, while Rolling Stone magazine has named the band the fourth greatest artist of all time. The band is The Rolling Stones, and after 50 years, people still cannot get enough of this musical artist.
Seeding the Stones
It all started when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards became classmates in Dartford in Kent. The two were friends and constant playmates until the Jaggers moved out of town. Years later, the two saw each other at the railway station in Dartford. The musical connection was instant, as Richards saw that Jagger was holding the same Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records that he was also interested in.
The group expanded when the two met Brian Jones while he was playing for Blues Incorporated at a place called the Eating Jazz Club. Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts were also there, and they decided to start a rhythm and blues band playing mostly Chicago soul music. Other acquaintances came and went, as Jagger and Richards insisted on playing Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs.
Eventually, the group started getting noticed in the music scene. When the publication called Jazz News called for an interview, it asked for the name of the band. Jones thought quickly, saw an album of Muddy Waters, and picked one of the tracks listed. Thus, they became the Rollin’ Stone.
The band’s initial official members were Jagger on lead vocals, Richards on guitar and vocals, Jones on guitar and harmonica, Stewart on keyboards, Watts on drums, and Bill Wyman on bass. Wyman retired in 1993, and the Stones are now composed of Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Ronnie Wood on guitar. Darryl Jones and Chuck Leavell are also used regularly for bass and keyboards respectively, though they are not official members of the band.
The British Invasion
Initially popular in England and the rest of Europe, the Stones’ popularity crossed the pond as part of the 1960’s British musical invasion. The band was presented as the opposite of The Beatles. They eschewed smiling in the cover of the band’s first album, refrained from wearing identical uniforms as was the norm then, and did not do coordinated and choreographed little dance steps.
The band’s first single was a cover of Come On, the Chuck Berry classic. A Lennon-McCartney song entitled I Wanna Be Your Man followed this. But it was only in 1965 when the band started releasing more original songs. The song entitled The Last Time was the first Jagger-Richards song that hit number one.
Then came (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. It was the bands first song that reached number one internationally, topping the chart in several countries. Get Off My Cloud, Paint It Black, Mother’s Little Helper, Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing in the Shadow and Ruby Tuesday, followed in succession.
Drug Use, Death of Brian Jones and Stagnation
By the latter part of the 1960s, authorities were hounding the band’s members, specifically Jagger, Richards and Jones, for drug use. They were charged with drug offenses after a party at the home of Richards. Jagger and Richards were even imprisoned for a day, though Richards’ conviction was overturned on appeal. Jagger, on the other hand, was conditionally discharged. Jones was fined and ordered to seek professional help.
In between all these, Richards also ran off with Jones’ girlfriend. Jones then left the band because of his drug addiction. He drowned in his swimming pool in his East Sussex home in 1969.
Their performance and music were not affected though, as the band continued touring and releasing albums. It released Street Fighting Men, Sympathy for the Devil, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar, Tumbling Dice and Happy. For eight consecutive albums from the 1971 release Sticky Fingers, everything that the Stones released went to number one.
Critics, however, were starting to label the band as old and irrelevant. Album sales also started to plummet. The advent of punk rock in the late 70s saw the band being pushed to the sideline.
Reinventing the Stones
In response to the new trend in music, the Stones released several basic and guitar-driven rock and roll songs. Some Girls hit the top of the album chart in 1978. It included the disco-sounding Miss You, the country ballad Far Away Eyes, Beast of Burden and Shattered. The 80s saw the songs Harlem Shuffle and Rock and a Hard Place. Both Jagger and Richards also released solo albums at this time, as their relationship took a nosedive.
The band almost disbanded, but reunited when it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It then resumed recording and going on concert tours.
Fifty Years of Rolling Stones
To celebrate its golden anniversary, the band staged two concerts in London, one in New York, and two in New Jersey. Artists like Eric Clapton, Dave Navarro, Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga joined them in various nights.
It also released a large hardbound book called 50. Its famous tongue logo was also given a makeover and used during the celebrations. A 50th anniversary documentary was also shot by Brett Morgen for HBO. Another one called Crossfire Hurricane was also released in theaters.
Musically, the Stones also gifted its fans with a brand new compilation album entitled GRRR!. The album featured two new songs, namely Doom and Gloom and One More Shot. The album went straight to number 3 on its first week of release in the United Kingdom.