The relatively mild shaking, rattling, and rolling introduced in the 1950's by the likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Johnny Cash paved the way for a little more hardcore music and action during the tumultuous 1960's. In the US, turmoil came in the form of the Civil Rights movement, violent and widespread protests over the Vietnam War, and, of course, Woodstock. > Read more
The UK experienced equal uproars in the form of the bombing of Torrey Canyon, fierce battles over Britain's Balance of Trade, and the innovation of pirate radio. Upon this backdrop, a new era of music was born. Birthed from the rebellion most young people felt so deeply at the time, new sounds stormed the scene. The sights changed, too, as bands became less "boy next door" and more "bad boys gone wild". In the US, it was dubbed the British Invasion. The Beatles, The Kinks, The Animals, and, naturally, The Rolling Stones. Americans went gaga over everything British, from the bands to the clothes to the pop culture. Beatlemania replaced the Elvis swooning, and British flags donned everything from clothing to cars and guitars.
The Rolling Stones Were Born
Stones powerhouses, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, bonded in the early 60's over their mutual admiration of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley. At the beginning, the Stones toured the early 60's British club scene, particularly in the areas of London and Richmond. The original incarnation of The Rolling Stones included Mick Jagger (lead vocals), Keith Richards (lead guitar and backup vocals), Brian Jones (rhythm guitar and harmonica), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (keyboard).
Today, much of that initial group remains intact. As countless Rock-n-Roll bands came and went, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts keep on rocking, along with "newbie" Ronnie Wood, who joined on lead, rhythm, and bass, along with backup vocals, back in 1975. Other various musicians popped in and out of the Stones' universe, including "the other Mick," Mick Taylor (lead and bass guitar). On tour, the band swells to include Chuck Leavell on keyboards, Bernard Fowler on percussion, Darryl Jones on bass guitar, Matt Clifford on keyboards and French horn, Tim Ries on sax, and Sasha Allen with some backup and co-lead vocals.
Bill Wyman reminisces, ""...We were the first pop group to break away from the whole Cliff Richard thing, where the bands did little dance steps, wore identical uniforms and had snappy patter." Rock-n-roll wasn't cute, anymore. It was serious business.
According to Wyman, their first US tour was disastrous, "When we arrived, we didn't have a hit record [there] or anything going for us." That soon changed. The Rolling Stones' first taste of true international fame came in the summer of 1965 with their hit, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". They recorded it during their third tour of North America.
The Rolling Stones Come of Age
Though usually tight-lipped about the details, the term "sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll" wasn't just a hip saying with the stones. Their history with the police involving drug use opened with a bust at Keith Richard's home in 1967, which culminated with the arrest of Jagger and Richards. The duo were originally sentenced pretty severely -- three months for Jagger and a full year for Richards -- but those sentences were later tossed out.
Both Jagger and Richards have been more forthcoming in recent years about their drug use, with Jagger's ex, supermodel Jerry Hall, claiming that he used heroine before they met, and Richards fessing up to spending most of the 1970's in a drug-induced haze.
Yet the drug use, excessive partying, and shocking sexual exploits did nothing to hamper their creativity. The Rolling Stones moved beyond their early years of bluesy-rock and cover music to a truly one-of-a-kind combination of blues, psychedelic, rhythm & blues, traditional English music (particularly their reliance on the harp and other stringed instruments), reggae, dance, and even folk and country. The team sometimes borrowed heavily from "world music," a mixture of Western musical styles including folk, ethnic, indigenous, neo-traditional, and the intermingling of multiple cultural and ethnic music traditions. At times, the late Brian Jones (rhythm guitar, harmonica, and keyboards) turned to almost unheard-of instruments at the time, including the slide guitar and the sitar.
The Rolling Stones Seal Their Place in History
The Rolling Stones recorded and toured diligently through the 1960's and 70's, but weren't too productive during much of the 1980's, primarily due to an ongoing riff between Jagger and Richards. They managed to somewhat patch things up in the late 80's, in time for their 1989 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (US). They were added to the ranks of the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Their accomplishments include 30 studio albums, 18 live albums, more than 250 million album sales, and many more albums and musical recordings, including some solo work by various members and a number of compilations with other artists.
Summer 2012 was the Stones' 50th anniversary, and they celebrated the event by releasing a book, unceremoniously called 50. Also that year, director Brett Morgen released his documentary, called Crossfire Hurricane, which included about 50 hours' worth of interviews with Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman, which Morgen claims to be, "the most extensive group interviews they've ever done." The Stones and their music live on in the 2000's, with their September 2017 re-release of their original 1967 album, "Their Satanic Majesties Request". The Stones still tour, although the bad blood between Richards and Jagger persists, with Richards claiming not to have darkened the door of Jagger's dressing room in more than two decades.
Nevertheless, The Rolling Stones have changed the world of music forever. It may be only rock-n-roll, but we like it. > Less