When it comes to the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history, few bands have etched their legacy as deeply and enduringly as The Rolling Stones. With a career spanning over six decades, the British rock band has become synonymous with rebellion, raw energy, and a sound that has transcended generations. Let’s embark on a journey through the storied history of The Rolling Stones, from their humble beginnings to their iconic status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Side Note: Tickets to see the Rolling Stones in 2024 are due to be announced very soon so be sure to jump on the wait list. It may well be the band’s last tour.
The Birth of The Rolling Stones (1962)
The Rolling Stones were established in London in 1962, featuring Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Brian Jones (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Bill Wyman (bass). Influenced by American blues and R&B, the band swiftly gained fame in the British music scene for their captivating live shows and unique style.
Breakthrough and Early Success (1964-1969):
During the mid-1960s, The Rolling Stones swiftly gained fame, propelled by a series of chart-topping hits like “Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Their energetic performances and rebellious persona struck a chord with a fresh cohort of fans, positioning them as rivals to The Beatles and frontrunners of the British Invasion.
Redlands Drug Bust (1967):
Keith Richards, the guitarist of The Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger were well-known for their involvement in a drug bust at Richards’ Sussex home in 1967. The residence was raided by the police, resulting in arrests and a subsequent trial. While Jagger faced a shorter sentence, Richards initially received a harsh one-year prison term that was later overturned. This incident brought attention to the band’s alignment with the rebellious counterculture of the 1960s.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus (1968):
In 1968, The Rolling Stones orchestrated the extraordinary and slightly surreal TV special called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus.” Although filmed then, it wasn’t released until 1996. The show showcased captivating performances by The Stones, The Who, Jethro Tull, and more. With its diverse lineup of artists and circus-inspired ambiance, this event left an indelible mark on rock history.
Altamont Free Concert (1969):
The Altamont Speedway free concert in California gained notoriety for its violence and chaos. The Rolling Stones headlined the event, which spiraled into disorder, resulting in the tragic death of a concertgoer named Meredith Hunter. Many view the Altamont Free Concert as a symbolic conclusion to the peace and love era of the 1960s.
Tragedy and Transformation (1969-1974):
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, The Rolling Stones underwent a transformative period. Brian Jones’ untimely death in 1969 marked the conclusion of an era, yet the band persevered, welcoming guitarist Mick Taylor into their ranks. This era witnessed the release of renowned albums like “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile on Main St.,” solidifying their status as rock legends.
Exile on Main St. Recording Sessions (1971):
While creating their iconic record “Exile on Main St.,” the band chose Keith Richards’ French mansion basement as their recording site. The sessions embraced a hedonistic vibe with abundant drugs, alcohol, and various guests. The turbulent setting influenced the album’s raw and edgy sound.
The Mars Bar Incident (1972):
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were barred from the renowned Mars Bar in New York due to their disruptive behavior during a wild night of revelry. The incident entailed Jagger urinating on the bar, resulting in the band being escorted out. However, the ban was eventually rescinded years later, as the Mars Bar acknowledged the promotional benefits associated with the incident.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (1974-1977):
Touring with a Giant Inflatable Penis (1975):
The Rolling Stones included a large inflatable phallus as part of their stage setup during the eventful “Tour of the Americas ’75.” This daring prop stirred up controversy and resulted in arrests in certain cities, showcasing the band’s inclination for pushing limits and questioning societal norms.
Toronto Drug Bust (1977):
In 1977, The Rolling Stones encountered a drug-related issue in Canada. Keith Richards and his common-law wife, Anita Pallenberg, were apprehended for heroin possession. Initially, Richards faced the possibility of life imprisonment, but the charges were eventually decreased. This incident highlighted the band’s enduring battle with substance abuse during specific phases.
Surviving the ’80s and ’90s:
During the ’80s and ’90s, The Rolling Stones successfully adapted to evolving musical trends while retaining their distinctive style. Albums such as “Tattoo You” and “Steel Wheels” demonstrated their ability to remain current, and the popular track “Start Me Up” became an iconic anthem of that time period.
A New Millennium and Ongoing Relevance:
In the 21st century, The Rolling Stones demonstrated their enduring rock ‘n’ roll spirit. They maintained an active touring schedule and released albums, solidifying their position as one of the greatest live acts ever. Notably, their “A Bigger Bang” tour from 2005-2007 ranks among the highest-grossing tours in history.
Legacy and Impact
The Rolling Stones have made an unforgettable impact on the cultural scene, going beyond their popular songs and successful tours. Their rebellious spirit, Mick Jagger’s captivating stage persona, and Keith Richards’ memorable guitar melodies have influenced numerous artists and defined the true essence of rock ‘n’ roll.
The Rolling Stones’ journey is a testament to the enduring spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. Over six decades, they have adapted to changing musical landscapes, captivating audiences worldwide. With new tours and continued history-making, The Rolling Stones embody the power of raw, unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll.