The Rolling Stones has been the British rock group with the longest history and in their own words, they are “”The Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World’. People started recognizing their caliber during the 1960s. They rope in various forms of American composition to bring about a new form of popular music. The Rolling Stones, of 1964 had Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in their crew.
Early, they began their career playing covers of blues, rhythm and blues, country, and rock and roll music. What they recorded first were the covers of Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Hank Williams and Muddy Waters songs, among others. However, other genres like punk, Reggae, country music, dance music and even Arab music have cast their spell on the band’s recordings.
The band came into existence in 1961 when Jagger and Richards, the schoolmates met Jones. It was Jones who christened the band after a Muddy Waters song. The original team comprised Jagger on vocals, Jones on guitar, Richards on guitar, Ian Stewart on piano, Charlie Watts on drums and Dick Taylor on bass. Taylor left shortly to attend the art school and he later founded The Pretty Things.
Bill Wyman came to replace Taylor. The team members had a common passion for rhythm and blues music; the group rehearsed relentlessly to master these. They started playing in public at The Marquee Club in London, and soon shifted their stay to The Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, run by Russian emigre Giorgio Gomelsky, and started gaining a strong foothold as London’s premier live act.
At first, Brian Jones was their creative leader, despite Mick Jagger increasingly becoming the focus during live performances. Having gained a good reputation, and with a young manager Andrew Loog Oldham to manage the team well, The Rolling Stones signed to Decca Records. The first single they released was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On”. At that time team had a primitive style of playing. At the instance of the manager Ian Stewart was also called in to join the team.
Their album The Rolling Stones (England’s Newest Hitmakers) appeared in April 1964. During this period, unlike the Beatles, Stones tried to project the image of decidedly unkempt, gang of surly yobs. Ironically, this caught the fantasy of many girls and the Stones soon became a teen idol group. While on tour across Europe and America, they went for sightseeing to musically important locations in order gain inspirations. A result was, the recording of their EP, Five By Five, at the studios of Chess Records in Chicago, Illinois.
Jagger and Richards by now emerged as prolific songwriters and perceived leaders of the band. Jones, aware of his reduced importance, gradually became a drug addict. By now, the band seemed to be more tolerant towards drug use and some of its members got convicted of drug possession, and even jailed. The British media also drew a bad picture of their perceived debauched lifestyles.
Their psychedelic album released as Satanic Majesties’ Request was recorded in a tense ambience, when various members feared a probable confinement in jail. After the release of Satanic Majesties, personal relationship between Jones and Richards started getting increasingly strained. Despite the estrangement, aided by an excellent sound from upcoming producer Jimmy Miller, Jagger and Richards produced some amazing work, helping the Stones get billed as “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”.
Brain Jones’ increasing affinity towards drugs made him less and less reliable, and in 1969, the young, jazz-influenced guitarist, Mick Taylor, from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, came to replace him. However, within two months, he was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool, setting off speculation about the death cause. Coinciding with this incident, the band released a single called “Honky Tonk Women”, on July 3, 1969, which has remained the band’s last number 1 single in the UK. Another classic album Let It Bleed followed in December
Sticky Fingers the band’s first album on their own Rolling Stones Records label was released in March 1971. Soon, the band left Britain for South France, when the issue of their unpaid income tax snowballed. There they recorded their double album Exile on Main St. (1972). The tour of Europe in the fall of 1973 showed the Rolling Stones in top form, particularly Taylor. Taylor left before sessions started for the next album, Black and Blue (1976), following differences with Richards. Ron Wood, a long-time friend of Richards’ and guitarist with The Faces was the replacement. In 1978, their seminal late-1970s album Some Girls met with phenomenal success and good reviews. In 1980 came out Emotional Rescue, and Tattoo You in the next year.
1983’s Undercover was seen as Jagger’s attempt to give a new sound to the Rolling Stones’ to suit the contemporary musical trends. During this time, Ron Wood became more vulnerable to drugs and added to this was the untimely death of Ian Stewart (a long time collaborator and often called sixth Stone) in 1986. The only silver lining was the Grammy for lifetime achievement, which they did receive at that time.
In spite of their differences, Jagger and Richards cooperated for the recording of a new album, Steel Wheels, released in 1989 and the same year saw Stones getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1991 Bill Wyman left the band, after which the band continued as 4-member team. Jones was later brought back, however.
Microsoft bought the right to use The Stones’ song “Start Me Up” to launch their Windows 95 operating system. In 2002, the Rolling Stones brought out Forty Licks. In the same year Q magazine named The Rolling Stones as one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”. On July 30, 2003, the band held a show in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to help the 2003 SARS epidemic. The Rolling Stone’s first ever concert in Hong Kong took place on November 9, 2003, in connection with the Harbour Fest celebration. On September 6th came the release of their new album, A Bigger Bang, with hopes of a big bang.