The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards,
Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts
Background information
Also known as The Stones
Origin London, England
Genres Rock, blues, blues rock, rhythm and blues, rock and roll
Years active 1962 – present
Labels Decca, London, Rolling Stones, Virgin, ABKCO, Interscope, Polydor
Associated acts John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Faces, The Jeff Beck Group, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, Super Heavy
Mick Jagger
Keith Richards
Charlie Watts
Ronnie Wood
Past members
Brian Jones
Ian Stewart
Tony Chapman
Dick Taylor
Bill Wyman
Mick Taylor

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica, guitar), and Keith Richards (guitar, vocals). Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up. The emergence of the Rolling Stones has been credited for the greater international popularity of the primitive urban blues typified by Chess Records' artists such as Muddy Waters, who wrote "Rollin' Stone", the song from which the band drew its name.[1] Though R&B and blues cover songs dominated the Rolling Stones' early material, their repertoire has always included rock and roll. The Rolling Stones' endurance and relevance, critic and musicologist Robert Palmer said, is due to their being "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music" while "more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone".[2]

Jones led the band until Jagger and Richards assumed leadership after teaming as songwriters. In 1969 Jones' diminishing contributions to the band and his inability to tour, due to poor health and legal complications, caused him to leave the band three weeks before drowning in his swimming pool. Jones' replacement Mick Taylor stayed with the band until leaving voluntarily in 1974, with Ronnie Wood taking his place since then. Wyman retired from the band in 1993; his replacement Darryl Jones has not been made a full member. Stewart was taken from the official line-up in 1963 and continued as the band's road manager and occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Since 1982, Chuck Leavell has been the band's primary keyboardist.

First popular in Europe, the Rolling Stones quickly became successful in North America during the British Invasion of the mid 1960s. Having released 22 studio albums in the United Kingdom (24 in the United States), nine live albums (ten in the US), and numerous compilations, their worldwide sales are estimated at more than 200 million albums.[3] Sticky Fingers (1971) began a string of eight consecutive studio albums reaching number one in the United States. Their most recent album of entirely new material, A Bigger Bang, was released in 2005. In 1989, the Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004, they ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[4] In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked the Rolling Stones at number ten on "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists", and as the second most successful group in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[5]



Early history

In the early 1950s, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were childhood friends and classmates at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford, Kent until their families moved apart.[6] In 1960, when Richards, on his way to class at Sidcup Art College, and Jagger, on his way to class at London School of Economics, met at Dartford train station, the Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records Jagger carried revealed a mutual interest, leading to the re-establishment of their friendship and the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things).[7][8] Richards, Taylor, and Jagger found Brian Jones as he sat in playing slide guitar with Alexis Korner's seminal London R&B band, Blues Incorporated, at the Ealing Jazz Club. Blues Incorporated contained two other future members of the Rolling Stones: Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts.[9] Stewart found a practice space and joined with Jones to start an R&B band playing Chicago blues. Besides Stewart, Jones, and Jagger, the first rehearsal of the as-yet-unnamed band also included Richards attending at Jagger's behest. Other participants were guitarist Geoff Bradford and vocalist Brian Knight, who objected to the rock 'n roll material Jagger and Richards played and wanted no part of forming a band with them.[10] In June 1962 the line-up was: Jagger, Richards, Stewart, Jones, Taylor, and drummer Tony Chapman. According to Richards, Jones christened the band during a phone call to Jazz News. When asked for a band name Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor of which one of the tracks was "Rollin' Stone".[11][12][13]


On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as "The Rollin' Stones".[14] The line-up was Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, Taylor on bass and Chapman on drums. Jones and Stewart wanted to play Chicago blues, but were agreeable to the Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley numbers of Jagger and Richards.[15] Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts the following January 1963 to form the band's long-standing rhythm section.[7][16]

The Rolling Stones' acting manager Giorgio Gomelsky secured a Sunday afternoon residency at The Crawdaddy Club. Gomelsky said the Crawdaddy gigs triggered an "international renaissance for the blues' - and, along with the arrival of the Beatles, were a seminal facet of "Swinging London".[17]

After seeing the Rolling Stones play for the fashionable Crawdaddy audience, former Beatles publicist Andrew Loog Oldham signed the band to a management deal.[18] Oldham's age of nineteen - less than any of the band - made him too young to hold an agent's license. Out of necessity Oldham partnered with veteran booking agent Eric Easton in a deal which became legal after Oldham's mother signed for her son.[19][20][21] Gomelsky had no written agreement with the band and was not consulted.[22]

Due in great part to Decca's regret at not signing the Beatles, the recording contract Oldham and Easton obtained from Decca Records contained unusually favourable terms: the Rolling Stones got three times the typical royalty rate for a new act, full artistic control of recordings, as well as ownership of the recording masters.[23][24]

The Decca deal also let Oldham use non-Decca recording studios, with Regent Sound Studios, a mono facility decorated by egg boxes on the ceiling for sound treatment, becoming the preferred facility.[25][26][27] Oldham said at Regent "The sound leaked, instrument to instrument, the right way" creating a desired "wall of noise".[28] The low cost of using Regent let the band record for extended periods, instead of booking the usual three hour blocks prevalent at the time, a practice the band continued to follow the rest of their career. All tracks on the first Rolling Stones UK album were recorded at Regent.[29][30] With minimal recording experience, Oldham had made himself the band's producer.[24]

Oldham presented the Rolling Stones' use of independent studios to make his artists seem superior to the Beatles, who had used EMI's studios appearing, Oldham said, to be "mere mortals ... sweating in the studio for the man".[31] Oldham initially dressed the band in identical suits, but the band returned to wearing their own clothes for public appearances.[32] Oldham ended up promoting the Rolling Stones as the nasty opposites of the Beatles by having the band pose unsmiling on the cover of the first UK album, and by planting provocative headlines in the press such as "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?"[33] According to Wyman: "Our reputation and image as the Bad Boys came later, completely accidentally. Andrew never did engineer it. He simply exploited it exhaustively". Oldham changed the spelling of the band from "The Rollin' Stones" to "The Rolling Stones" and changed the spelling of Richards last name to Richard because it "looked more pop".[34][35] Stewart did not fit Oldham's mould, according to Wyman, of "pretty, thin, long-haired boys, and was removed from the line-up in May 1963 to become manager and occasional pianist for the band until his death in 1985.[36][37][38]

A cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On" was the Rolling Stones' first single, released on 7 June 1963. The Rolling Stones refused to play it at live gigs,[39] and Decca bought only one ad to promote the single. With Oldham's direction fan-club members bought copies at record shops polled by the charts,[40] helping "Come On" rise to No.21 on the UK singles charts.[41] Having a charting single gave the band entree to play outside London, starting with a booking at the Outlook Club in Middlesbrough on 13 July, sharing the billing with The Hollies.[42] Later in the year Oldham and Easton arranged the band's first big UK concert tour as a supporting act for American stars including Bo Diddley, Little Richard and The Everly Brothers. This Autumn 1963 tour became a "training ground" for the young band's stagecraft.[24][43][44]

During this tour the Rolling Stones recorded their second single, a Lennon/McCartney-penned number entitled "I Wanna Be Your Man"; it reached No.12 in the UK charts. Their third single, Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", was released in February 1964 and reached #3.

Oldham saw little future for an act that lost significant songwriting royalties by playing songs of "middle-aged blacks", limited the appeal to teenage audiences. At Oldham's urging, Jagger and Richards co-wrote songs, the first batch of which he described as "soppy and imitative."[45] Because songwriting developed slowly, songs on the band's first album The Rolling Stones, (issued in the US as England's Newest Hit Makers) were primarily covers, with only one Jagger/Richards original – "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)" – and two numbers credited to Nanker Phelge, the pen name for songs written by the entire group.[46]

The Rolling Stones' first US tour, in June 1964, was, in Bill Wyman's words, "a disaster." "When we arrived, we didn't have a hit record [there] or anything going for us."[47] When the band appeared on Dean Martin's TV variety show The Hollywood Palace, Martin mocked both their hair and their performance.[48] During the tour they recorded for two days at Chess Studios in Chicago, meeting many of their most important influences, including Muddy Waters.[49][50] These sessions included what would become the Rolling Stones' first number 1 hit in the UK: their cover of Bobby and Shirley Womack's "It's All Over Now".[51]

"The Stones" followed James Brown in the filmed theatrical release of The TAMI Show, which showcased American acts with British Invasion artists. According to Jagger in 2003, "We weren't actually following James Brown because there were hours in between the filming of each section. Nevertheless, he was still very annoyed about it..."[52] On 25 October the band also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Regarding the pandemonium the Rolling Stones caused, Sullivan banned the band from his show,[53] though he later did book them repeatedly.[9] Their second LP – the US-only 12 X 5 – was released during this tour;[54] like their first album, it contained mainly cover tunes, augmented by Jagger/Richards and Nanker Phelge tracks.

The Rolling Stones' fifth UK single – a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" backed by "Off the Hook" credited to Nanker Phelge – was released in November 1964 and became their second No.1 hit in the UK – an unprecedented achievement for a blues number. The band's US distributors (London Records) declined to release "Little Red Rooster" as a single there. In December 1964 London Records released the band's first single with Jagger/Richards originals on both sides: "Heart of Stone" backed with "What a Shame"; "Heart of Stone" went to number 19 in the US.[55]


The Rolling Stones 1965

The band's second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, was released in January 1965 charted at number 1 as an album, and the US version, released in February as The Rolling Stones, Now!, reached number 5. The album was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles.[56] In January/February 1965 the band played 34 shows for about 100,000 people in Australia and New Zealand.[57]

The first Jagger/Richards composition to reach number 1 on the UK singles charts was "The Last Time" (released in February 1965); it went to number 9 in the US. It was also later identified by Richards as "the bridge into thinking about writing for The Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it."[58] Their first international number-1 hit was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", recorded in May 1965 during the band's third North American tour. In recording the guitar riff with the fuzzbox that drives the song, Richards had envisioned it as a scratch track to guide a horn section. Disagreeing, Oldham released "Satisfaction" without the planned horn overdubs. Issued in the US in June 1965, it spent four weeks at the top of the charts there, establishing the Rolling Stones as a worldwide premier act.[58][59]

The US version of the LP Out of Our Heads (released in July 1965) also went to number 1; it included seven original songs (three Jagger/Richards numbers and four credited to Nanker Phelge).[60] Their second international number-1 single, "Get Off of My Cloud" was released in the autumn of 1965,[9] followed by another US-only LP: December's Children.[54]

Aftermath (UK number 1; US 2), released in the late spring of 1966, was the first Rolling Stones album to be composed entirely of Jagger/Richards songs. On this album Jones' contributions expanded beyond guitar and harmonica. To the Middle Eastern-influenced "Paint It Black" he added sitar, to the ballad "Lady Jane" he added dulcimer, and to "Under My Thumb" he added marimbas. Aftermath was also notable for the almost 12-minute long "Goin' Home", the first extended jam on a top-selling rock & roll album.

The Stones' success on the British and American singles charts peaked during 1966. "19th Nervous Breakdown" (Feb. 1966, UK number 2, US number 2) was followed by their first trans-Atlantic number-1 hit "Paint It Black" (May 1966). "Mother's Little Helper" (June 1966) was only released as a single in the US, where it reached number 8; it was one of the first pop songs to address the issue of prescription drug abuse. Notably, Jagger sang the lyric in his natural London accent, rather than his usual affected southern-US accent.

The September 1966 single "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?" (UK number 5, US number 9) was notable in several respects: It was the first Stones recording to feature brass horns, the (now-famous) back-cover photo on the original US picture sleeve depicted the group satirically dressed in drag, and the song was accompanied by one of the first purpose-made promotional film clips (music videos), directed by Peter Whitehead.

January 1967 saw the release of Between the Buttons (UK number 3; US 2); the album was Andrew Oldham's last venture as the Rolling Stones' producer (his role as the band's manager had been taken over by Allen Klein in 1965). The US version included the double A-side single "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Ruby Tuesday", which went to number 1 in America and number 3 in the UK. When the band went to New York to perform the numbers on The Ed Sullivan Show, they were ordered to change the lyrics of the refrain to "let's spend some time together".[7][61]

Jagger, Richards and Jones began to be hounded by authorities over their recreational drug use in early 1967, after News of the World ran a three-part feature entitled "Pop Stars and Drugs: Facts That Will Shock You". The series described alleged LSD parties hosted by The Moody Blues and attended by top stars including The Who's Pete Townshend and Cream's Ginger Baker, and alleged admissions of drug use by leading pop musicians. The first article targeted Donovan (who was raided and charged soon after); the second instalment (published on 5 February) targeted the Rolling Stones. A reporter who contributed to the story spent an evening at the exclusive London club Blaise's, where a member of the Rolling Stones allegedly took several Benzedrine tablets, displayed a piece of hashish and invited his companions back to his flat for a "smoke". The article claimed that this was Mick Jagger, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity—the reporter had in fact been eavesdropping on Brian Jones. On the night the article was published Jagger appeared on the Eamonn Andrews chat show and announced that he was filing a writ for libel against the paper.[62]

Brian Jones 1965

A week later on Sunday 12 February, Sussex police, tipped off by the News of the World, who in turn were tipped off by Richards' chauffeur,[63] raided a party at Keith Richards' home, Redlands. No arrests were made at the time but Jagger, Richards and their friend Robert Fraser (an art dealer) were subsequently charged with drugs offences. Richards said in 2003, "When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realise that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped. Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted."[64] On the treatment of the man responsible for the raid he later added: "As I heard it, he never walked the same again."[63]

In March, while awaiting the consequences of the police raid, Jagger, Richards and Jones took a short trip to Morocco, accompanied by Marianne Faithfull, Jones' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg and other friends. During this trip the stormy relations between Jones and Pallenberg deteriorated to the point that Pallenberg left Morocco with Richards.[65] Richards said later: "That was the final nail in the coffin with me and Brian. He'd never forgive me for that and I don't blame him, but hell, shit happens."[66] Richards and Pallenberg would remain a couple for twelve years. Despite these complications, the Rolling Stones toured Europe in March and April 1967. The tour included the band's first performances in Poland, Greece and Italy.[67]

On 10 May 1967—the same day Jagger, Richards and Fraser were arraigned in connection with the Redlands charges—Brian Jones' house was raided by police and he was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis.[7] Three out of five Rolling Stones now faced criminal charges. Jagger and Richards were tried at the end of June. On 29 June Jagger was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for possession of four amphetamine tablets; Richards was found guilty of allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property and sentenced to one year in prison.[68] Both Jagger and Richards were imprisoned at that point, but were released on bail the next day pending appeal.[69] The Times ran the famous editorial entitled "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?" in which editor William Rees-Mogg was strongly critical of the sentencing, pointing out that Jagger had been treated far more harshly for a minor first offence than "any purely anonymous young man".

While awaiting the appeal hearings, the band recorded a new single, "We Love You", as a thank-you for the loyalty shown by their fans. It began with the sound of prison doors closing, and the accompanying music video included allusions to the trial of Oscar Wilde.[70] On 31 July, the appeals court overturned Richards' conviction, and Jagger's sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.[71] Brian Jones' trial took place in November 1967; in December, after appealing the original prison sentence, Jones was fined £1000, put on three years' probation and ordered to seek professional help.[72]

December 1967 also saw the release of Their Satanic Majesties Request (UK number 3; US 2), released shortly after The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[7] Satanic Majesties had been recorded in difficult circumstances while Jagger, Richards and Jones were dealing with their court cases. The band parted ways with producer Andrew Oldham during the sessions. The split was amicable, at least publicly,[73] but in 2003 Jagger said: "The reason Andrew left was because he thought that we weren't concentrating and that we were being childish. It was not a great moment really – and I would have thought it wasn't a great moment for Andrew either. There were a lot of distractions and you always need someone to focus you at that point, that was Andrew's job."[7]

Satanic Majesties thus became the first album the Rolling Stones produced on their own. It was also the first of their albums released in identical versions on both sides of the Atlantic. Its psychedelic sound was complemented by the cover art, which featured a 3D photo by Michael Cooper, who had also photographed the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Bill Wyman wrote and sang a track on the album: "In Another Land", which was also released as a single, the first on which Jagger did not sing lead vocal.[74]

The band spent the first few months of 1968 working on material for their next album. Those sessions resulted in the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash", released as a single in May. The song and the subsequent album, Beggars Banquet (UK number 3; US 5), an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes, marked the band's return to their roots, and the beginning of their collaboration with producer Jimmy Miller. Featuring the lead single "Street Fighting Man" (which addressed the political upheavals of May 1968) and the opening track "Sympathy for the Devil. Beggars Banquet was well received at the time of release. Richards said, "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.' There's a lot of anger in the music from that period."[75] Richards started using open tunings for rhythm parts (often in conjunction with a capo), most prominently an open-E or open-D tuning in 1968. Beginning in 1969, he often used 5-string open-G tuning (with the lower 6th string removed), as heard on the 1969 single "Honky Tonk Women", "Brown Sugar" (Sticky Fingers, 1971), "Tumbling Dice"(capo IV), "Happy"(capo IV) (Exile on Main St., 1972), and "Start Me Up" (Tattoo You, 1981).

The end of 1968 saw the filming of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. It featured John Lennon, Yoko Ono, The Dirty Mac, The Who, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull and Taj Mahal. The footage was shelved for twenty-eight years but was finally released officially in 1996.

By the release of Beggars Banquet, Brian Jones was increasingly troubled and was only sporadically contributing to the band. Jagger said that Jones was "not psychologically suited to this way of life".[76] His drug use had become a hindrance, and he was unable to obtain a US visa. Richards reported that, in a June meeting with Jagger, Richards, and Watts at Jones' house, Jones admitted that he was unable to "go on the road again". Richards said all agreed to let Jones "...say 'I've left, and if I want to I can come back'".[8] On 3 July 1969, less than a month later, Jones drowned in the swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm home in Sussex.

Richards, 1972

The Rolling Stones were scheduled to play at a free concert in London's Hyde Park two days after Brian Jones' death; they decided to proceed with the show as a tribute to Jones. The concert, their first with Mick Taylor, was performed in front of an estimated 250,000 fans.[7] The performance was filmed by a Granada Television production team, and was shown on British television as Stones in the Park. Jagger read an excerpt from Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy Adonaïs and released thousands of butterflies in memory of Jones.[7] The show included the concert debut of "Honky Tonk Women", which the band had just released. Their stage manager Sam Cutler introduced them as "the greatest rock & roll band in the world"[77] – a description he repeated throughout their 1969 US tour, and which has stuck to this day.

The release of Let It Bleed (UK number 1; US 3) came in December. Their last album of the sixties, Let It Bleed featured "Gimmie Shelter"(which would later be described by journalist Greil Marcus as "the greatest ever rock and roll recording") The lead female vocals - and legendary solo - on Gimmie Shelter is performed by singer Merry Clayton who also performs on the album with female vocalist Nanette Workman).

Other tracks include "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (with choral accompaniment by the London Bach Choir, who asked for their name to be removed from the album's credits after being apparently 'horrified' by the content of some of its other material, but later withdrew this request), "Midnight Rambler" as well as a cover of Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain". Jones and Taylor are featured on two tracks each. Many of these numbers were played during the band's US tour in November 1969, their first in three years. Just after the tour the band performed at the Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway, about 60 km east of San Francisco. The biker gang Hells Angels provided security, and a fan, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels after they realised that he was armed.[78] Part of the tour and the Altamont concert were documented in Albert and David Maysles' film Gimme Shelter. As a response to the growing popularity of bootleg recordings (in particular the still sought-after Live'r Than You'll Ever Be), the album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! (UK 1; US 6) was released in 1970; it was declared by critic Lester Bangs to be the best live album ever.[79]


Mick Taylor, 1972

At the turn of the decade the band appeared on the BBC's highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing Gimme Shelter on the show, which was broadcast live on 1 January 1970. Later in 1970 the band's contracts with both Allen Klein and Decca Records ended, and amid contractual disputes with Klein, they formed their own record company, Rolling Stones Records. Sticky Fingers (UK number 1; US 1), released in March 1971, the band's first album on their own label, featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol. The album contains one of their best known hits, "Brown Sugar", and the country-influenced "Wild Horses". Both were recorded at Alabama's Muscle Shoals Sound Studio during the 1969 American tour. The album continued the band's immersion into heavily blues-influenced compositions. The album is noted for its "loose, ramshackle ambience"[80] and marked Mick Taylor's first full release with the band.

Following the release of Sticky Fingers, the Rolling Stones left England after receiving financial advice. They moved to the South of France, where Richards rented the Villa Nellcôte and sublet rooms to band members and entourage. Using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they held recording sessions in the basement; they completed the resulting tracks, along with material dating as far back as 1969, at Sunset Studios in Los Angeles. The resulting double album, Exile on Main St. (UK number 1; US 1), was released in May 1972. Given an A+ grade by critic Robert Christgau[81] and disparaged by Lester Bangs—who reversed his opinion within months – Exile is now accepted as one of the Stones' best albums.[82] The films Cocksucker Blues (never officially released) and Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (released in 1974) document the subsequent highly publicised 1972 North American ("STP") Tour, with its retinue of jet-set hangers-on, including writer Terry Southern.

The Rolling Stones, 1972

In November 1972, the band began sessions in Kingston, Jamaica, for their follow-up to Exile, Goats Head Soup (UK 1; US 1) (1973). The album spawned the worldwide hit "Angie", but proved the first in a string of commercially successful but tepidly received studio albums.[83] The sessions for Goats Head Soup led to a number of outtakes, most notably an early version of the popular ballad "Waiting on a Friend", not released until Tattoo You eight years later.

The making of the record was interrupted by another legal battle over drugs, dating back to their stay in France; a warrant for Richards' arrest had been issued, and the other band members had to return briefly to France for questioning.[84] This, along with Jagger's convictions on drug charges (in 1967 and 1970[85]), complicated the band's plans for their Pacific tour in early 1973: they were denied permission to play in Japan and almost banned from Australia. This was followed by a European tour (bypassing France) in September/October 1973 – prior to which Richards had been arrested once more on drug charges, this time in England.[86]

The band went to Musicland studios in Munich to record their next album, 1974's It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (UK 2; US 1), but Jimmy Miller, who had drug abuse issues, was no longer producer. Instead, Jagger and Richards assumed production duties and were credited as "the Glimmer Twins". Both the album and the single of the same name were hits.

Near the end of 1974, Taylor began to lose patience.[87] The band's situation made normal functioning complicated, with band members living in different countries and legal barriers restricting where they could tour. In addition, drug use was affecting Richards' creativity and productivity, and Taylor felt some of his own creative contributions were going unrecognised.[88] At the end of 1974, with a recording session already booked in Munich to record another album, Taylor quit the Rolling Stones.[89] Taylor said in 1980, "I was getting a bit fed up. I wanted to broaden my scope as a guitarist and do something else... I wasn't really composing songs or writing at that time. I was just beginning to write, and that influenced my decision... There are some people who can just ride along from crest to crest; they can ride along somebody else's success. And there are some people for whom that's not enough. It really wasn't enough for me."[90]


Ronnie Wood (left) and Mick Jagger (right) 1975

The Rolling Stones used the recording sessions in Munich to audition replacements for Taylor. Guitarists as stylistically disparate as Humble Pie lead Peter Frampton and ex-Yardbirds virtuoso Jeff Beck were auditioned (although both Beck and Irish blues rock guitarist Rory Gallagher later claimed that he had played with the band without realising that they were actually being auditioned, and both agree that they would never have agreed to join). Shuggie Otis was also dropped by the Munich sessions. American session players Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel also appeared on much of the next album, Black and Blue (UK 2; US 1) (1976). Yet Richards and Jagger also wanted the Rolling Stones to remain purely a British band. When Ronnie Wood auditioned, everyone agreed that he was the right choice.[91] Wood had already recorded and played live with Richards, and had contributed to the recording and writing of the track "It's Only Rock 'n Roll". Though he had earlier declined Jagger's offer to join the Stones, because of his ties to The Faces, Wood committed to the Rolling Stones in 1975 for their upcoming Tour of the Americas. He officially joined the band the following year, as the Faces dissolved. Unlike the other band members, however, Wood was a salaried employee and remained so until Wyman's departure nearly two decades later, when Wood finally became a full member of the Rolling Stones' partnership.

Tour of the Americas '75, 23 July 1975 L to R: Wood, Richards and Jagger

The 1975 Tour of the Americas kicked off in New York City with the band performing on a flatbed trailer being pulled down Broadway. The tour featured stage props including a giant phallus and a rope on which Jagger swung out over the audience. Jagger had booked live recording sessions at the El Mocambo club in Toronto to balance a long-overdue live album, 1977's Love You Live (UK 3; US 5), the first Stones live album since 1970's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert.

Richards' addiction to heroin delayed his arrival in Toronto; the other members had already assembled, awaiting Richards, and sent him a telegram asking him where he was. On 24 February 1977, when Richards and his family flew in from London, they were temporarily detained by Canada Customs after Richards was found in possession of a burnt spoon and hash residue. Three days later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, armed with an arrest warrant for Pallenberg, discovered "22 grams of heroin"[92] in Richards' room. Richards was charged with importing narcotics into Canada, an offence that carried a minimum seven-year sentence.[93] Later the Crown prosecutor conceded that Richards had procured the drugs after arrival.[94]

Toronto's El Mocambo Club where part of Love You Live was recorded.

Despite the arrest, the band played two shows in Toronto, only to raise more controversy when Margaret Trudeau, then-wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was seen partying with the band after one show. The band's two shows were not advertised to the public. Instead, the El Mocambo had been booked for the entire week by April Wine for a recording session. 1050 CHUM, a local radio station, ran a contest for free tickets to see April Wine. Contest winners who selected tickets for Friday or Saturday night were surprised to find the Rolling Stones playing.[95]

On 4 March, Richards' partner Anita Pallenberg pled guilty to drug possession and incurred a fine in connection with the original airport incident.[95] The drug case against Richards dragged on for over a year. Ultimately, Richards received a suspended sentence and was ordered to play two free concerts for the CNIB in Oshawa;[94] both shows featured the Rolling Stones and The New Barbarians, a group that Wood had put together to promote his latest solo album, and which Richards also joined. This episode strengthened Richards' resolve to stop using heroin.[7] It also contributed to the end of his relationship with Pallenberg, which had become strained since the death of their third child (an infant son named Tara). In addition, Pallenberg was unable to curb her heroin addiction while Keith struggled to get clean.[96] While Richards was settling his legal and personal problems, Jagger continued his jet-set lifestyle. He was a regular at New York's Studio 54 disco club, often in the company of model Jerry Hall. His marriage to Bianca Jagger ended in 1977, although they had long been estranged.[97]


Although the Rolling Stones remained popular through the first half of the 1970s, music critics had grown increasingly dismissive of the band's output, and record sales failed to meet expectations.[9] By the late 70s, after punk rock became influential, many criticised the Rolling Stones as decadent, ageing millionaires[7] and their music as stagnant or irrelevant.[98] This changed in 1978, after the band released Some Girls (UK #2; US #1), which included the hit single "Miss You", the country ballad "Far Away Eyes", "Beast of Burden", and "Shattered". In part as a response to punk, many songs were fast, basic, guitar-driven rock and roll,[98] and the album's success re-established the Rolling Stones' immense popularity among young people. Following the US Tour 1978, the band guested on the first show of the fourth season of the TV series "Saturday Night Live". The group did not tour Europe the following year, breaking the routine of touring Europe every three years that the band had followed since 1967.

Following the success of Some Girls, the band released their next album Emotional Rescue (UK 1; US 1) in mid-1980. The recording of the album was reportedly plagued by turmoil, with Jagger and Richards' relationship reaching a new low. Richards, though still using heroin according to former keyboardist of The Small Faces Ian Mclagan,[99] began to assert more control in the studio – more than Jagger had become used to – and a struggle ensued as Richards felt he was fighting for "his half of the Glimmer Twins."[citation needed] Emotional Rescue hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and the title track reached No.3 in the US.

Bill Wyman 1975

In early 1981, the group reconvened and decided to tour the US that year, leaving little time to write and record a new album, as well as rehearse for the tour. That year's resulting album, Tattoo You (UK 2; US 1), featured a number of outtakes, including lead single "Start Me Up", which reached No.2 in the US and ranked No.22 on Billboard's Hot 100 year-end chart. Two songs ("Waiting on a Friend" (US #13) and "Tops") featured Mick Taylor's guitar playing, while jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins played on "Slave" and dubbed a part on "Waiting on a Friend". The Rolling Stones scored one more Top Twenty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982, the No.20 hit "Hang Fire". The Stones' American Tour 1981 was their biggest, longest and most colourful production to date, with the band playing from 25 September through 19 December. It was the highest grossing tour of that year. Some shows were recorded, resulting in the 1982 live album Still Life (American Concert 1981) (UK 4; US 5), and the 1983 Hal Ashby concert film Let's Spend the Night Together, which was filmed at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona and the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands, New Jersey.

In mid-1982, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, the Rolling Stones took their American stage show to Europe. The European Tour 1982 was their first European tour in six years. The tour was similar to their 1981 American tour. For the tour, the band were joined by former Allman Brothers Band pianist, Chuck Leavell, who continues to perform and record with the Rolling Stones to date. By the end of the year, the band had signed a new four-album 28 million dollar recording deal with a new label, CBS Records.


Before leaving Atlantic, the Rolling Stones released Undercover (UK 3; US 4) in late 1983. Despite good reviews and the Top Ten peak position of the title track, the record sold below expectations and there was no tour to support it. Subsequently the Stones' new marketer/distributor CBS Records took over distributing the Stones' Atlantic catalogue.

By this time, the Jagger/Richards split was growing. Much to the consternation of Richards, Jagger had signed a solo deal with CBS Records, and he spent much of 1984 writing songs for this first solo effort. He has also stated that he was feeling stultified within the framework of the Rolling Stones.[100] By 1985, Jagger was spending more time on solo recordings, and much of the material on 1986's Dirty Work (UK #4; US #4) was generated by Keith Richards, with more contributions by Ron Wood than on previous Rolling Stones albums. Rumours surfaced that Jagger and Richards were rarely, if ever, in the studio at the same time, leaving Richards to keep the recording sessions moving forward.[citation needed]

In December 1985, the band's co-founder, pianist, road manager and long-time friend Ian Stewart died of a heart attack. The Rolling Stones played a private tribute concert for him at London's 100 Club in February 1986, two days before they were presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[27]

Dirty Work was released in March 1986 to mixed reviews despite the presence of the US Top Five hit "Harlem Shuffle"; Jagger refused to tour to promote the album, stating later that several band members were in no condition to tour.[citation needed] Richards was infuriated when Jagger instead undertook his own solo tour which included Rolling Stones songs. He has referred to this period in his relations with Jagger as "World War III".[101] Jagger's solo records, She's The Boss (UK 6; US 13) (1985) and Primitive Cool (UK 26; US 41) (1987), met with moderate success, although Richards disparaged both.[citation needed] Many believed the group would disband.[who?] In 1988, with the Rolling Stones inactive, Richards released his first solo album, Talk Is Cheap (UK 37; US 24). It was well received by fans and critics, going gold in the US.

In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jagger and Richards set aside animosities and went to work on a new Rolling Stones album that would be called Steel Wheels (UK 2; US 3). Heralded as a return to form, it included the singles "Mixed Emotions" (US #5), "Rock and a Hard Place" (US #23) and "Almost Hear You Sigh". It also included "Continental Drift", which was recorded in Tangier in 1989 with The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar coordinated by Tony King and Cherie Nutting. A BBC film was made entitled "The Rolling Stones in Morocco" produced by Nigil Finch.

The subsequent Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tours, encompassing North America, Japan and Europe, saw the Rolling Stones touring for the first time in seven years (since Europe 1982), and it was their biggest stage production to date. Opening acts included Living Colour and Guns N' Roses; the onstage personnel included a horn section and backup singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler, both of whom continue to tour regularly with the Rolling Stones. Recordings from the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours produced the 1991 concert album Flashpoint (UK 6; US 16), which also included two studio tracks recorded in 1991: the single "Highwire" and "Sex Drive". The tour also produced the IMAX concert film Live at the Max released in 1991.

These were the last Rolling Stones tours for Bill Wyman, who left the band after years of deliberation, although his retirement was not made official until January 1993.[102] He then published Stone Alone, an autobiography based on scrapbooks and diaries he had been keeping since the band's early days. A few years later he formed Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and began recording and touring again.


After the successes of the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours, the band took a break. Charlie Watts released two jazz albums; Ronnie Wood made his fifth solo album, the first in 11 years, called Slide On This; Keith Richards released his second solo album in late 1992, Main Offender (UK 45; US 99), and did a small tour including big concerts in Spain and Argentina. Mick Jagger got good reviews and sales with his third solo album, Wandering Spirit (UK 12; US 11). The album sold more than two million copies worldwide, going gold in the US.

After Wyman's departure, the Rolling Stones' new distributor/record label, Virgin Records, remastered and repackaged the band's back catalogue from Sticky Fingers to Steel Wheels, except for the three live albums, and issued another hits compilation in 1993 entitled Jump Back (UK 16; US 30). By 1993 the Rolling Stones set upon their next studio album. Darryl Jones, former sideman of Miles Davis and Sting, was chosen by Charlie Watts as Wyman's replacement for 1994's Voodoo Lounge (UK 1; US 2). The album met strong reviews and sales, going double platinum in the US. Reviewers took note of the album's "traditionalist" sounds, which were credited to the Rolling Stones' new producer Don Was.[103] It would go on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.

1994 also brought the accompanying Voodoo Lounge Tour, which lasted into 1995. Numbers from various concerts and rehearsals (mostly acoustic) made up Stripped (UK 9; US 9), which featured a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", as well as infrequently played songs like "Shine a Light", "Sweet Virginia" and "The Spider and the Fly".

The Rolling Stones were the first major recording artists to broadcast a concert over the Internet; a 20-minute video was broadcast on 18 November 1994 using the Mbone at 10 frames per second. The broadcast, engineered by Thinking Pictures and financed by Sun Microsystems, was one of the first demonstrations of streaming video; while it was not a true webcast, it introduced many to the technology.[104]

Keith Richards, 2006

The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon (UK 6; US 3), released in 1997 to mixed reviews. The video of the single "Anybody Seen My Baby?" featured Angelina Jolie as guest and met steady rotation on both MTV and VH1. Sales were reasonably equivalent to those of previous records (about 1.2 million copies sold in the US), and the subsequent Bridges to Babylon Tour, which crossed Europe, North America and other destinations, proved the band to be a strong live attraction. Once again, a live album was culled from the tour, No Security (UK 67; US 34), only this time all but two songs ("Live With Me" and "The Last Time") were previously unreleased on live albums. In 1999, the Rolling Stones staged the No Security Tour in the US and continued the Bridges to Babylon tour in Europe. The No Security Tour offered a stripped-down production in contrast to the pyrotechnics and mammoth stages of other recent tours.

In late 2001, Mick Jagger released his fourth solo album, Goddess in the Doorway (UK 44; US 39) which met with mixed reviews.[105] Jagger and Richards took part in "The Concert for New York City", performing "Salt of the Earth" and "Miss You" with a backing band.

In 2002, the band released Forty Licks (UK 2; US 2), a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band. The collection contained four new songs recorded with the latter-day core band of Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, Leavell and Jones. The album has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. The same year, Q magazine named the Rolling Stones as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die",[106] and the 2002–2003 Licks Tour gave people that chance. The tour included shows in small theatres, arenas and stadiums. The band headlined the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to help the city – which they have used for rehearsals since the Steel Wheels tour – recover from the 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert was attended by an estimated 490,000 people.

The Rolling Stones' "Tongue and Lip Design" logo designed by John Pasche in 1971

On 9 November 2003, the band played their first concert in Hong Kong as part of the Harbour Fest celebration, also in support of the SARS-affected economy. In November 2003, the band exclusively licensed the right to sell their new four-DVD boxed set, Four Flicks, recorded on the band's most recent world tour, to the US Best Buy chain of stores. In response, some Canadian and US music retail chains (including HMV Canada and Circuit City) pulled Rolling Stones CDs and related merchandise from their shelves and replaced them with signs explaining the situation.[107] In 2004, a double live album of the Licks Tour, Live Licks (UK 38; US 50), was released, going gold in the US.


On 26 July 2005, Jagger's birthday, the band announced the name of their new album, A Bigger Bang (UK 2; US 3), their first album in almost eight years. A Bigger Bang was released on 6 September to strong reviews, including a glowing write-up in Rolling Stone magazine.[108] The single "Streets of Love" reached the Top 15 in UK and Europe.

The album included the political "Sweet Neo Con", a criticism of American Neoconservatism from Jagger.[109] The song was reportedly almost dropped from the album because of objections from Richards. When asked if he was afraid of political backlash such as the Dixie Chicks had endured for criticism of American involvement in the war in Iraq, Richards responded that the album came first, and that, "I don't want to be sidetracked by some little political 'storm in a teacup'."[110]

The subsequent A Bigger Bang Tour began in August 2005, and visited North America, South America and East Asia. In February 2006, the group played the half-time show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan. By the end of 2005, the Bigger Bang tour set a record of $162 million in gross receipts, breaking the North American mark also set by the Rolling Stones 1994. On 18 February 2006 the band played a free concert with a claimed 1.5 million attendance at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Ron Wood and Mick Jagger, 2006

After performances in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand in March/April 2006, the Rolling Stones tour took a scheduled break before proceeding to Europe; during this break Keith Richards was hospitalised in New Zealand for cranial surgery after a fall from a tree on Fiji, where he had been on holiday. The incident led to a six-week delay in launching the European leg of the tour.[111][112] In June 2006 it was reported that Ronnie Wood was continuing his programme of rehabilitation for alcohol abuse,[113][114] but this did not affect the rearranged European tour schedule. Two out of the 21 shows scheduled for July–September 2006 were later cancelled due to Mick Jagger's throat problems.[115]

The Rolling Stones returned to North America for concerts in September 2006, and returned to Europe on 5 June 2007. By November 2006, the Bigger Bang tour had been declared the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning $437 million. The North American leg brought in the third-highest receipts ever ($138.5 million), trailing their own 2005 tour ($162 million) and the U2 tour of that same year ($138.9 million).[116]

On 29 October and 1 November 2006, director Martin Scorsese filmed the Rolling Stones performing at New York City's Beacon Theatre, in front of an audience that included Bill and Hillary Clinton, released as the 2008 film Shine a Light; the film also features guest appearances by Buddy Guy, Jack White and Christina Aguilera.[117] An accompanying soundtrack, also titled Shine a Light (UK 2; US 11), was released in April 2008. The album's debut at number 2 in the UK charts was the highest position for a Rolling Stones concert album since Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert in 1970.

On 24 March 2007, the band announced a tour of Europe called the "Bigger Bang 2007" tour. 12 June 2007 saw the release of the band's second four-disc DVD set: The Biggest Bang, a seven-hour document featuring their shows in Austin, Rio de Janeiro, Saitama, Shanghai and Buenos Aires, along with extras. On 10 June 2007, the band performed their first gig at a festival in 30 years, at the Isle of Wight Festival, to a crowd of 65,000. On 26 August 2007, they played their last concert of the A Bigger Bang Tour at the O2 Arena in London, England. At the conclusion of the tour, it was announced the Rolling Stones had made $558 million on the A Bigger Bang Tour to list them in the latest edition of Guinness World Records.[118]

Charlie Watts, 2006

Mick Jagger released a compilation of his solo work called The Very Best of Mick Jagger (UK 57; US 77), including three unreleased songs, on 2 October 2007. On 12 November 2007, ABKCO released Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones, a double-CD remake of the 1975 compilation Rolled Gold; the reissue went to number 26 in the UK charts.

Rolling Stones, 2006

In a 2007 interview with Mick Jagger after nearly two years of touring, Jagger refused to say when the band is going to retire: "I'm sure the Rolling Stones will do more things, more records and more tours, we've got no plans to stop any of that, really. As far as I'm concerned, I'm sure we'll continue."[119] In March 2008 Keith Richards sparked rumours that a new Rolling Stones studio album may be forthcoming, saying during an interview following the premiere of Shine a Light, "I think we might make another album. Once we get over doing promotion on this film". Drummer Charlie Watts remarked that he got ill whenever he stopped working.[120] In July 2008 it was announced that the Rolling Stones were leaving EMI and signing with Vivendi's Universal Music, taking with them their catalogue stretching back to Sticky Fingers. New music released by the band while under this contract will be issued through Universal's Polydor label.[121] Mercury Records will hold the US rights to the pre-1994 material, while the post-1994 material will be handled by Interscope Records (once a subsidiary of Atlantic). Coincidentally, Universal Music is also the distributor for ABKCO, owners of the band's pre-Sticky Fingers releases.

During the fall, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Mick Taylor worked with producer Don Was to add new vocals and guitar parts to ten unfinished songs from the Exile on Main St. sessions.

On 17 April 2010 the band released a limited edition 7-inch vinyl single of the previously unreleased track "Plundered My Soul" in honour of Record Store Day. The track, part of the group's 2010 re-issue of Exile on Main St., was combined with "All Down the Line" as its B-side.[122]

On 23 April, it was announced that the band would be at Cannes Festival, for the premiere of the documentary Stones in Exile (directed by Stephen Kijak[123]), about the recording of the album Exile on Main St..[124]

On 23 May 2010, the re-issue of Exile on Main St. stormed at No. 1 in the UK charts, almost 38 years to the week after it first occupied that position. The Rolling Stones are the first act to ever see a classic work return to No. 1 decades after it was first released.[125] In the US, the album sold 76,000 copies during the first week and re-entered the charts at No. 2. A CD containing just the 10 new tracks from the 2CD edition of Exile on Main St. was released exclusively through Target, – as Exile on Main St. (Rarities Edition) and also charted at No. 27.[126]

On 11 October 2010, the Stones released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones to the cinemas and later on to DVD. A digitally remastered version of the film was shown in select cinemas across the United States. This live performance was recorded during 4 shows in Ft. Worth and Houston, Texas in support of their The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972 and their album Exile on Main St.. The film was released to cinemas in 1974 but until now it was never available for home release apart from the numerous bootleg copies.[127]

On 4 October 2011, the Stones released The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas '78 to the cinemas and later on to DVD. A digitally remastered version of the film was shown in select cinemas across the United States. This live performance was recorded during one show in Ft. Worth, Texas in support of their US Tour 1978 and their album Some Girls. The film was released in (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) on 15 November 2011.[128]

Musical development

The Rolling Stones are notable in modern popular music for assimilating various musical genres into their own collective sound. Throughout the band's career, their musical contributions have been marked by a continual reference and reliance on musical styles including blues, rhythm and blues, country, folk, reggae, dance, and world music, exemplified by their collaboration with the Master Musicians of Jajouka, as well as traditional English styles that use stringed instrumentation like harps. Brian Jones experimented with the use of non-traditional instruments such as the sitar and slide guitar in their early days. The group started out covering early rock 'n' roll and blues songs, and have never stopped playing live or recording cover songs.

Infusion of American blues

Jagger and Richards shared an admiration of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, and Little Walter, and their interest influenced Brian Jones, of whom Richards says, "He was more into T-Bone Walker and jazz blues stuff. We'd turn him onto Chuck Berry and say, 'Look, it's all the same shit, man, and you can do it.'"[8] Charlie Watts, a traditional jazz drummer, was also introduced to the blues through his association with the pair. "Keith and Brian turned me on to Jimmy Reed and people like that. I learned that Earl Phillips was playing on those records like a jazz drummer, playing swing, with a straight four..."[129]

Jagger, recalling when he first heard the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, and other major American R&B artists, said it "seemed the most real thing"[130] he had heard up to that point. Similarly, Keith Richards, describing the first time he listened to Muddy Waters, said it was the "most powerful music [he had] ever heard...the most expressive."[131] He also stated, "when you think of some dopey, spotty seventeen year old from Dartford, who wants to be Muddy Waters-- and there were a lot of us-- in a way, very pathetic, but in another way, very... heartwarming".[132]

Early songwriting

Despite The Rolling Stones' predilection for blues and R&B numbers on their early live setlists, the first original compositions by the band reflected a more wide-ranging interest. The first Jagger/Richards single, "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)", has been described by critic Richie Unterberger as a "pop rock ballad... When [Jagger and Richards] began to write songs, they were usually not derived from the blues, but were often surprisingly fey, slow, Mersey-type pop numbers".[133] "As Tears Go By", the ballad originally written for Marianne Faithfull, was one of the first songs written by Jagger and Richards and also one of many written by the duo for other artists. Jagger said of the song, "It's a relatively mature song considering the rest of the output at the time. And we didn't think of [recording] it, because The Rolling Stones were a butch blues group."[134] The Rolling Stones did later record a version which became a top five hit in the US.[135]

On the early experience, Richards said, "The amazing thing is that although Mick and I thought these songs were really puerile and kindergarten-time, every one that got put out made a decent showing in the charts. That gave us extraordinary confidence to carry on, because at the beginning songwriting was something we were going to do in order to say to Andrew [Loog Oldham], 'Well, at least we gave it a try...'"[136] Jagger said, "We were very pop-orientated. We didn't sit around listening to Muddy Waters; we listened to everything. In some ways it's easy to write to order... Keith and I got into the groove of writing those kind of tunes; they were done in ten minutes. I think we thought it was a bit of a laugh, and it turned out to be something of an apprenticeship for us."[136]

The writing of the single "The Last Time", The Rolling Stones' first major single, proved a turning point. Richards called it "a bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it."[58] The song was based on a traditional gospel song popularised by The Staple Singers, but The Rolling Stones' number features a distinctive guitar riff (played on stage by Brian Jones).

Band members

Current members

  • Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica (April 1962 – present)
  • Keith Richards – electric and acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals (April 1962 – present)
  • Charlie Watts – drums (January 1963 – present)
  • Ronnie Wood – slide, lap and pedal steel guitars, electric guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals (March 1975 – present)

Additional musicians

Former members

  • Brian Jones – guitars, sitar, keyboards, accordion, marimba, harmonica, dulcimer, autoharp, percussion, recorder, cello, mandolin, saxophone, backing vocals (April 1962 – June 1969)
  • Ian Stewart – piano, keyboards (April 1962 – May 1963; additional musician: January 1964 – December 1966, November 1968 – August 1985)
  • Tony Chapman – drums (April 1962 – January 1963)
  • Dick Taylor – bass (April–December 1962)
  • Bill Wyman – bass, backing vocals (December 1962 – January 1993)
  • Mick Taylor – electric, acoustic, and slide guitar, backing vocals (June 1969 – December 1974)


In a career that has spanned nearly half a century, the band have released over 100 singles, over two dozen studio albums, and numerous compilation and live albums. Ten of their studio albums are among Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, with their 1972 double album Exile on Main St. placing seventh.[137]

Concert tours

Official videography

Officially released films featuring are listed with their original release dates. (The formats mentioned are the most recent versions officially available, not necessarily the original release formats.)

See also


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