The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones, TheFrom: London, England

One of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, the Rolling Stones formed in 1962. The original lineup consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Ian Stewart (piano), Dick Taylor (bass), and Tony Chapman (drums). It was Jones who founded the band, but Jagger and Richards would eventually take on the leadership role once the two started writing songs.

Richards and Jagger had been friends ever since they were children, and were classmates in Dartford, Kent until Jagger moved away. In 1960, the two were reacquainted when they ran into each other at the Dartford railway station. Jagger was carrying records by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, performers Richards also enjoyed, and this inspired them to form a musical partnership. The two met Jones when he played slide guitar with Alexis Korner’s band, Blues Incorporated, at the Ealing Jazz Club. Stewart and Watts were also present at this time.

Jones, Stewart, and Marisela Rivera then formed and R&B band that played Chicago Blues. At the first rehearsal was Geoff Bradford (guitar) and Brian Knight (vocals), but both refused to join the band, because they were opposed to playing Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs, the type of music that Jagger and Richards preferred. Richards claims that Jones named the band during a phone call to Jazz News. The name came to Jones when he saw a Muddy Waters album lying on the floor. One of the songs on the album was “Rollin’ Stone,” and Jones thought it to be a good name for the band.

The band played their first gig in July 1962 at the Marquee Club, where they played mostly Chicago blues along with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley covers. Bill Wyman replaced Taylor in December, and Charlie Watts joined in January 1963. The Stones acting manager Giorgio Gomelsky secured them a residency at the Crawdaddy Club. The first official manager of the band was Andrew Loog Oldham who had been a publicist of the Beatles. When Oldham began, he had not yet reached the age of majority, and by necessity joined with booking agent Eric Easton, and Oldham’s mother had to sign the partnership contract. Oldham made a number of changes to the band, starting out by changing the band’s name from “the Rollin’ Stones” to “the Rolling Stones.” He also removed the “s” from Richards’ last name claiming it “looked more pop.” Oldham’s next move was removing Stewart from the band. Wyman once said that Stewart did not fit in with Oldham’s mould of “pretty, thin, long-haired boys.” Stewart became the band’s road manager and played piano on many studio track. He also played on stage with the band a number of times until his death in 1985.

Because they regretted passing up on the Beatles, Oldham was able to land the Stones a rather favourable contract with Decca Records. The Stones’ received three times the typical royalty rate of a new act, full artistic control, and ownership of the recording masters. The band was also allowed to use non-Decca studios. Despite the fact that he had no recording experience, Oldham made himself producer. The band preferred to record at Regent Sound Studios, where all the tracks on their first UK album were recorded. Oldham wanted to set the Rolling Stones apart from the Beatles, so he made them the “nasty opposite,” having them pose without smiles for the cover of their debut album. He also encouraged the press to use provocative headlines such as “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” When talking about Oldham, Wyman once said “Our reputation and image as the Bad Boys came later, completely accidentally. Andrew never did engineer it. He simply exploited it exhaustively.”

On June 7 1963, the Rolling Stones released their first single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On.” The Stones refused to play the song live and Decca only purchased one ad to promote the single. Still, thanks to Oldham’s help, “Come On” managed to reach #21 on the British singles charts. As a result of having a charted single, the band was able to play outside of London, starting with a booking at the Outlook Club in Middlesbrough on the same bill as the Hollies. Later in 1963, the band’s first UK tour was arranged, where they played as the supporting act for such artists as Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and the Everly Brothers. On the tour the Rolling Stones recorded their second single, a cover of the Lennon-McCartney song, “I Wanna Be Your Man.” This made it to #12 on the singles charts and was followed by their cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” which reached #3. “Not Fade Away” was played in the same style as Bo Diddley, showing his influence on the band.

The fact that the Rolling Stones did not write their own music bothered Oldham. He felt that they were losing significant royalties playing covers, and were limiting their appeal to teenage audiences. Oldham strongly urged Jagger and Richards to co-write songs, and, naturally, the first bunch suffered. The songs on the band’s debut album, The Rolling Stones (it was called England’s Newest Hit Makers in the US), were mostly covers, as songwriting developed slowly. Only one song was a Jagger/Richards original, and two others were credited to Nanker Phelge, the name used for songs written by the entire group.

In June 1964, the Rolling Stones had their first US tour. Things did not go well for the Stones, and Wyman called the tour “a disaster.” The band appeared on the Dean Martin variety show The Hollywood Palace, where they were mocked for their and performance. However, the Stones had the chance to record at Chess Records for a couple of days while on tour, and it was here that they met one of their biggest idols, Muddy Waters. The band wound up recording their first #1 hit in the U.K. at these sessions with their cover of Bobby and Shirley Womack’s “It’s All Over Now.” The Stones appeared in the filmed theatrical release of The TAMI Show, followed by an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 25. The band was initially banned from the show for the pandemonium they caused, but they were eventually booked for future appearances. Their sophomore album, 12 x 5, was only released in the US, and was released during the tour. Much like the first album, 12 x 5 was mostly covers.

“Little Red Rooster” / “Off the Hook” was the fifth UK single released by the Stones. “Little Red Rooster” was a Willie Dixon cover recorded in 1964, and became the Stones’ second #1 in the U.K. In December 1964, London Records released the band’s first single with Jagger/Richards originals on both sides: “Heart of Stone” / “What a Shame.” This single went to #19 in the US. The second album the band released in the U.K. was The Rolling Stones No. 2. The album reached #1 and the US version, titled The Rolling Stones, Now!, reached #5. Recording sessions took place at Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles. In January/February 1965, the Rolling Stones played 34 shows for about 100,000 people in Australia and New Zealand.

The first original song written by Jagger and Richards to reach #1 on the U.K. singles chart was “The Last Time,” released in February 1965. The song made it to #9 in America, but more importantly, it was a turning point for the band. Richards saw the song as “the bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it.” The first international #1 hit the band ever had was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” recorded during their third North American tour. When recording the guitar riff, Richards opted to use a fuzzbox to drive the song. He envisioned it as a scratch track that would guide a horn section. Oldham did not agree with this technique and released the song without the horn overdubs. The single was issued in America in June 1965 and spent four weeks at the top of the charts, establishing the Stones as a premier act around the globe.

Out of Our Heads was the Rolling Stones’ next album. The American version, released in July 1965, also made it to #1 on the charts. Included were seven originals, three credited to Jagger/Richards and four credited to Nanker Phelge. “Get Off of My Cloud” became the band’s second international #1 single, appearing in the autumn of ’65. Soon after, another US-only album was released: December’s Children (And Everybody’s).

The Rolling Stones released their next album in the spring of 1966. Aftermath reached #1 in the U.K. and #2 in America, and also marked the first Stones album comprised by Jagger/Richards. Jones added more than just guitar on this album, playing sitar on “Paint It Black” (from the US release), dulcimer on “Lady Jane,” and marimbas on “Under My Thumb.” Aftermath also included the almost 12-minute long “Goin’ Home,” the first extended song to ever be on a top-selling rock and roll album. The Rolling Stones’ success seemed to peak in 1966 on both the British and American singles charts. “19th Nervous Breakdown” (U.K. #2, US #2) was followed by “Paint It Black.” Only released as a single in America, “Mother’s Little Helper” (#8) was one of the first pop songs to talk about abusing prescription drugs. “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” (U.K. #5, US #9) was released in September 1966, and was the first Stones record to feature brass horns.

In January 1967, the Rolling Stones released their next album, Between The Buttons. This was the last project that Oldham was producer. The American version of Between The Buttons included the double A-side “Let’s Spend The Night Together” / “Ruby Tuesday.” The single went to #1 in the US and #3 in Britain. For their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the band was forced to change the lyrics of the refrain to “let’s spend some time together.”

Jagger, Richards, and Jones were beginning to receive a lot of scrutiny by authorities about their recreational drug use in the early parts of 1967. This began after News of the World ran a three-part feature called “Pop Stars and Drugs: Facts That Will Shock You.” Topics of discussion included alleged LSD parties hosted by the Moody Blues that were attended by the likes of Pete Townshend of the Who and Ginger Baker of Cream. The series also targeted Donovan who was raided and charged soon after. The next part of the feature targeted the Stones. One of the reporters who contributed to the story spent an evening at the London club Blaise’s. Also at this club was a member of the Rolling Stones who allegedly took several Benzedrine tablets, possessed a piece of hashish, and invited his companions to join him for a “smoke.” It was reported that the individual was Jagger, but it was in fact Jones that the reporter had overheard. Jagger announced that he would be filing a writ for libel against the paper. A week later, Sussex police raided a party at Richards’ home. The police were apparently tipped off by News of the World, who were reportedly tipped off by Richards’ chauffeur. No arrests were made, but Jagger, Richards, and their friend Robert Fraser were charged with drug offenses.

While they awaited their appeal hearings, the Stones recorded their next single, “We Love You.” The song was meant as a thank-you for the loyalty shown by their fans. Beginning with the sound of prison doors closing, the accompanying video included allusions to the Oscar Wilde trial. The appeals court decided to overturn Richards’ conviction, and Jagger’s sentence was reduced to conditional discharge. Jones, who had been busted for drugs shortly after the other two bandmates, was fined £1000, put on three years probation and ordered to seek professional help.

Their Satanic Majesties Request (U.K. #3, US #2) was released in December 1967, shortly after the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This became the first Stones album that was produced on their own, and was also the band’s first album to be released in identical versions on both sides of the Atlantic. The album is the Stones’ most psychedelic release, complemented by the cover art. The cover featured a 3D photo done by Michael Cooper, who also photographed the cover of Sgt. Pepper.”In Another Land” was written and sung by Wyman, and marked the first single that Jagger did not sing lead.

The early parts of 1968 were devoted to working on material for their next album. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was released as a single in May. Beggars Banquet (U.K. #3, US #5) was released soon after, and showed the Stones return to their roots. The music was a mix of country and blues influences. Included on the album were the lead single “Street Fighting Man” and the opening track “Sympathy For The Devil.” The album was well received upon its release. According to Richards, “There is a change between material on Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet. I’d grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit and the beads and bells. Who knows where these things come from, but I guess [the music] was a reaction to what we’d done in our time off and also that severe dose of reality. A spell in prison… will certainly give you room for thought… I was fucking pissed with being busted. So it was, ‘Right we’ll go and strip this thing down.'” At the end of 1968, the band filmed The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, featuring John Lennon, Yoko Ono, The Dirty Mac, The Who, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull, and Taj Mahal. The footage was shelved for 28 years before finally being released in 1996.

By the time of Beggars Banquet, Jones was only contributing sporadically. Jagger commented that Jones was “not psychologically suited to this way of life.” His drug use was becoming a hindrance, and he was unable to obtain an American visa. On July 3 1969, Jones drowned in a swimming pool under mysterious circumstances at his home in Hartfield, East Sussex. The Stones had been scheduled to play at a free concert for Blackhill Enterprises in London’s Hyde Park just two days after Jones’ death; they proceeded to play the show as a tribute to their deceased band member. Mick Taylor was hired by the band, and made his debut at this show.

At the concert in Hyde Park, the Rolling Stones performed “Midnight Rambler” and “Love In Vain,” both of which were previously unheard by audiences and included on the band’s next album, Let It Bleed. The stage manager for the Blackhill Enterprises, Sam Cutler, introduced the Stones as “the greatest rock & roll and in the world,” a description that he would repeat throughout their American tour in 1969. Cutler left Blackhill Enterprises to become the band’s road manager after the show at Hyde Park.

Let It Bleed (U.K. #1, US #3) was released in December 1969 and was the Rolling Stones’ last album of the ’60s. The album featured the classic song “Gimmie Shelter.” On this song, the band was accompanied by female vocalist Merry Clayton, sister of Sam Clayton, a member of the band Little Feat. Let It Bleed also included “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a song that featured the London Bach Choir, “Midnight Rambler,” and a cover of the Robert Johnson song “Love In Vain.” Just after the tour of America, the first one in three years, the Rolling Stones performed at the dreadful event that was the Altamont Free Concert at Altamont Speedway. Biker gang Hells Angels was hired as security, and a fan was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angles after realising the individual was armed. Part of the tour and Altamont were included in Albert and Dave Maysles’ film Gimmie Shelter. In 1970, at a time where bootlegs were all the rage, the Rolling Stones released Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!, declared by critic Lester Bangs to be the best live album ever.

The turn of the decade saw the Rolling Stones climb to even greater heights. The band’s contracts with Allen Klein and Decca Records both ended and they decided to form their own record company, Rolling Stones Records. They released the album Sticky Fingers (U.K. #1, US #1) in March 1971, which featured an elaborate cover design by pop art guru, Andy Warhol. “Brown Sugar” has become one of the best known hits of the band’s, and is featured on the Sticky Fingers album. Also included are the country-influenced “Dead Flowers,” the bluesy “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and another hit song “Wild Horses.” Sticky Fingers was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969, and is noted for its “loose, ramshackle ambience.” This was also Mick Taylor’s first full release with the band.

Right after the release of Sticky Fingers, the Rolling Stones left England, opting to move to the South of France. Richards rented the Villa Nellcôte and sublet rooms to band members and entourage. Sessions were held in the basement using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, and the album Exile on Main St. materialized. This double-album reached #1 on both sides of the pond, and is often accepted as one of the greatest albums by the Rolling Stones. In November 1972, sessions for their next album began in Kingston, Jamaica. Goats Head Soup was the next album released by the Stones and also went to #1 in both the U.K. and America. Goats Head Soup included the worldwide hit “Angie,” but was the first of a number of commercially successful albums that were not well received critically.

The Rolling Stones continued to release albums at a rampant paise, however, the quality of these albums did not compare with that of their earlier material. Still, the band has managed to release some fantastic music over the years and should be remembered for their contributions. Ronnie Wood joined the band in 1975 and the lineup has pretty much remained the same ever since. Celebrating 50 years of existence, the Rolling Stones are making a strong case for being the greatest rock and roll band of all time.

Artist information sources include: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1965 album Out of Our Heads
Out of Our Heads

  • The Last Time
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  • Play With Fire
  • The Spider and the Fly

From the 1965 album December’s Children (And Everybody’s)
December's Children (And Everybody's)

  • She Said Yeah
  • The Singer Not The Song
  • Get Off My Cloud
  • I’m Free
  • I’m Moving On

From the 1966 album Aftermath
Aftermath UK

  • Mother’s Little Helper
  • Stupid Girl
  • Lady Jane
  • Under My Thumb
  • Out of Time

From the 1966 album Aftermath [American Release]

  • Paint It Black

From the 1966 album Got Live If You Want It!
Got Live If You Want It!

  • I’m All Right (Live)

From the 1967 album Between The Buttons
Between the Buttons UK

  • Yesterday’s Papers
  • Cool, Calm & Collected
  • All Sold Out
  • Who’s Been Sleeping Here?
  • Something Happened To Me Yesterday

From the 1967 album Between the Buttons [American Release]
Between the Buttons

  • Let’s Spend The Night Together
  • Ruby Tuesday

From the 1967 album Flowers

  • Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow

From the 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request
Their Satanic Majesties Request

  • Sing This Song All Together
  • Citadel
  • In Another Land
  • 2000 Man
  • She’s A Rainbow
  • The Lantern
  • Gomper
  • 2000 Light Years From Home
  • On With The Show

From the 1968 album Beggars Banquet
Beggars Banquet

  • Sympathy For The Devil
  • No Expectations
  • Street Fighting Man

From the 1969 album Let It Bleed
Let It Bleed

  • Gimme Shelter
  • Live With Me
  • Midnight Rambler
  • You Got The Silver
  • Monkey Man
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want

From the 1971 album Sticky Fingers
Sticky Fingers

  • Brown Sugar
  • Wild Horses
  • Sway
  • Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
  • Bitch
  • Sister Morphine
  • Moonlight Mile

From the 1975 album Metamorphosis

  • Downtown Suzie
  • Memo from Turner
  • I’m Going Down

From the 1989 album Singles Collection: The London Years
Singles Collection The London Years

  • Stoned
  • 19th Nervous Breakdown
  • Who’s Driving Your Plane
  • We Love You
  • Dandelion
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  • Child of the Moon
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • I Don’t Know Why


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