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The Rolling Stones

By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the late '60s, they hadalready staked out an impressive claim on the title. As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Merseybeatof the Beatles in the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock. With his preening machismo and latent maliciousness, Mick Jagger became the prototypical rock frontman,tempering his macho showmanship with adetached, campy irony while Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote th ...read more

By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the late '60s, they hadalready staked out an impressive claim on the title. As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Merseybeatof the Beatles in the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock. With his preening machismo and latent maliciousness, Mick Jagger became the prototypical rock frontman,tempering his macho showmanship with adetached, campy irony while Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote the blueprint for sinewy, interlocking rhythm guitars. Backed by the strong yet subtly swinging rhythm section of bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, the Stones became the breakout band of the British blues scene, eclipsing such contemporaries as the Animals and Them. Over the course of their career, the Stones never really abandoned blues, but as soon as they reached popularity in the U.K., they began experimenting musically, incorporating the British pop of contemporaries like the Beatles, Kinks, and Who into their sound. After a brief dalliance with psychedelia, the Stones re-emerged in the late'60s as a jaded,blues-soaked hard rock quintet. The Stones always flirted with the seedy side of rock & roll, but as the hippie dream begantobreak apart, they exposed and reveled in the new rock culture. It wasn't without difficulty, of course. Shortly after he was fired from the group, Jones was found dead in a swimming pool, while at a 1969 free concert at Altamont, a concertgoer was brutally killed during the Stones' show. But the Stones never stopped going. For the next 30 years, they continued to record and perform, and while their records weren't always blockbusters, they were never less than the most visible band of their era-- certainly, none of their British peers continued to be as popular or productive as the Stones. And no band since has proven to have such a broad fan base or far-reaching popularity, and it is impossible to hear any of the groups that followed them without detecting some sort of influence, whether it was musical or aesthetic.

Throughout their career, Mick Jagger (vocals) and Keith Richards (guitar, vocals) remained at the core of the Rolling Stones. The pair initially met as children at Dartford Maypole County Primary School. They drifted apart over the next ten years,eventually making eachother's acquaintance again in 1960, when they met through a mutual friend, Dick Taylor, who was attending Sidcup Art School with Richards. At the time, Jagger was studying at the London School of Economics and playing with Taylor in the blues band Little Boy Blue andthe Blue Boys. Shortly afterward, Richards joined the band. Within a year, they had met Brian Jones (guitar, vocals), a Cheltenham native who had dropped out of school to play saxophone and clarinet. By the time he became a fixture on the British blues scene, Jones had already had a wild life. He ran away to Scandinavia when he was 16; by that time, he had already fathered two illegitimate children. He returned to Cheltenham aftera few months, where he began playing with the Ramrods. Shortly afterward, he moved to London, where he played inAlexisKorner's group, Blues Inc. Jones quickly decided he wanted to form his own group and advertised for members; amongthose he recruitedwas the heavyset blues pianist Ian Stewart.

As he played with his group, Jones also moonlighted under the name Elmo Jones at the Ealing Blues Club. At the pub, hebecamereacquainted with Blues, Inc., which now featured drummer Charlie Watts, and, on occasion, cameos by Jagger andRichards. Jones becamefriends with Jagger and Richards, and they soon began playing together with Taylor and Stewart;during this time, Mick was elevated to thestatus of Blues, Inc.'s lead singer. With the assistance of drummer Tony Chapman,the fledgling band recorded a demo tape. After the tapewas rejected by EMI, Taylor left the band to attend the Royal Collegeof Art; he would later form the Pretty Things. Before Taylor'sdeparture, the group named itself the Rolling Stones, borrowingthe moniker from a Muddy Waters song.

The Rolling Stones gave their first performance at the Marquee Club in London on July 12, 1962. At the time, the groupconsisted of Jagger,Richards, Jones, pianist Ian Stewart, drummer Mick Avory, and Dick Taylor, who had briefly returned tothe fold. Weeks after the concert,Taylor left again and was replaced by Bill Wyman, formerly of the Cliftons. Avory also leftthe group -- he would later join the Kinks -- andthe Stones hired Tony Chapman, who proved to be unsatisfactory. After afew months of persuasion, the band recruited Charlie Watts, whohad quit Blues, Inc. to work at an advertising agency oncethe group's schedule became too hectic. By 1963, the band's lineup had beenset, and the Stones began an eight-monthresidency at the Crawdaddy Club, which proved to substantially increase their fan base. It alsoattracted the attention ofAndrew Loog Oldham, who became the Stones' manager, signing them from underneath Crawdaddy's GiorgioGomelsky.Although Oldham didn't know much about music, he was gifted at promotion, and he latched upon the idea of fashioningtheStones as the bad-boy opposition to the clean-cut Beatles. At his insistence, the large yet meek Stewart was forced outof the group, sincehis appearance contrasted with the rest of the group. Stewart didn't disappear from the Stones; hebecame one of their key roadies andplayed on their albums and tours until his death in 1985.

With Oldham's help, the Rolling Stones signed with Decca Records, and that June, they released their debut single, a cover ofChuck Berry's"Come On." The single became a minor hit, reaching number 21, and the group supported it with appearances onfestivals and packagetours. At the end of the year, they released a version of Lennon-McCartney's "I Wanna Be Your Man"that soared into the Top 15. Early in1964, they released a cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," which shot to numberthree. "Not Fade Away" became their first Americanhit, reaching number 48 that spring. By that time, the Stones werenotorious in their homeland. Considerably rougher and sexier than theBeatles, the Stones were the subject of numeroussensationalistic articles in the British press, culminating in a story about the bandurinating in public. All of these storiescemented the Stones as a dangerous, rebellious band in the minds of the public, and had the effect ofbeginning amanufactured rivalry between them and the Beatles, which helped the group rocket to popularity in the U.S. In the springof1964, the Stones released their eponymous debut album, which was followed by "It's All Over Now," their first U.K. numberone. Thatsummer, they toured America to riotous crowds, recording the Five by Five EP at Chess Records in Chicago in themidst of the tour. By thetime it was over, they had another number one U.K. single with Howlin' Wolf's "Little Red Rooster."Although the Stones had achievedmassive popularity, Oldham decided to push Jagger and Richards into composing their ownsongs, since they -- and his publishing company-- would receive more money that away. In June of 1964, the group releasedtheir first original single, "Tell Me (You're Coming Back),"which became their first American Top 40 hit. Shortly afterward, aversion of Irma Thomas' "Time Is on My Side" became their first U.S. TopTen. It was followed by "The Last Time" in early1965, a number one U.K. and Top Ten U.S. hit that began a virtually uninterrupted string ofJagger-Richards hit singles. Still, itwasn't until the group released "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in the summer of 1965 that they wereelevated to superstars.Driven by a fuzz-guitar riff designed to replicate the sound of a horn section, "Satisfaction" signaled that Jagger andRichardshad come into their own as songwriters, breaking away from their blues roots and developing a signature style of big, bluesyriffsand wry, sardonic lyrics. It stayed at number one for four weeks and began a string of Top Ten singles that ran for thenext two years,including such classics as "Get off My Cloud," "19th Nervous Breakdown," "As Tears Go By," and "Have YouSeen Your Mother, Baby,Standing in the Shadow?.

By 1966, the Stones had decided to respond to the Beatles' increasingly complex albums with their first album of all-originalmaterial,Aftermath. Due to Brian Jones' increasingly exotic musical tastes, the record boasted a wide range of influences,from the sitar-drenched"Paint It, Black" to the Eastern drones of "I'm Going Home." These eclectic influences continued toblossom on Between the Buttons(1967), the most pop-oriented album the group ever made. Ironically, the album's releasewas bookended by two of the most notoriousincidents in the band's history. Before the record was released, the Stonesperformed the suggestive "Let's Spend the Night Together," theB-side to the medieval ballad "Ruby Tuesday," on The EdSullivan Show, which forced Jagger to alter the song's title to an incomprehensiblemumble, or else face being banned. InFebruary of 1967, Jagger and Richards were arrested for drug possession, and within three months,Jones was arrested on thesame charge. All three were given suspended jail sentences, and the group backed away from the spotlight as thesummer oflove kicked into gear in 1967. Jagger, along with his then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, went with the Beatles to meettheMaharishi Mahesh Yogi; they were also prominent in the international broadcast of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love."Appropriately, theStones' next single, "Dandelion"/"We Love You," was a psychedelic pop effort, and it was followed by theirresponse to Sgt. Pepper, TheirSatanic Majesties Request, which was greeted with lukewarm reviews.

The Stones' infatuation with psychedelia was brief. By early 1968, they had fired Andrew Loog Oldham and hired Allen Klein astheirmanager. The move coincided with their return to driving rock & roll, which happened to coincide with Richards' discoveryof open tunings, amove that gave the Stones their distinctively fat, powerful sound. The revitalized Stones were showcasedon the malevolent single "Jumpin'Jack Flash," which climbed to number three in May 1968. Their next album, Beggar's Banquet,was finally released in the fall, after beingdelayed for five months due its controversial cover art of a dirty, graffiti-ladenrestroom. An edgy record filled with detours into straightblues and campy country, Beggar's Banquet was hailed as amasterpiece among the fledgling rock press. Although it was seen as a return toform, few realized that while it opened a newchapter of the Stones' history, it also was the closing of their time with Brian Jones. Throughoutthe recording of Beggar'sBanquet, Jones was on the sidelines due to his deepening drug addiction and his resentment of the dominance ofJagger andRichards. Jones left the band on June 9, 1969, claiming to be suffering from artistic differences between himself and the restofthe band. On July 3, 1969 -- less than a month after his departure -- Jones was found dead in his swimming pool. Thecoroner ruled that itwas "death by misadventure," yet his passing was the subject of countless rumors over the next twoyears.

By the time of his death, the Stones had already replaced Brian Jones with Mick Taylor, a former guitarist for John Mayall'sBluesbreakers.He wasn't featured on "Honky Tonk Women," a number one single released days after Jones' funeral, and hecontributed only a handful ofleads on their next album, Let It Bleed. Released in the fall of 1969, Let It Bleed was comprisedof sessions with Jones and Taylor, yet itcontinued the direction of Beggar's Banquet, signaling that a new era in the Stones'career had begun, one marked by ragged music and anincreasingly wasted sensibility. Following Jagger's filming of Ned Kelly inAustralia during the first part of 1969, the group launched its firstAmerican tour in three years. Throughout the tour -- thefirst where they were billed as the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band -- the groupbroke attendance records, but it was givena sour note when the group staged a free concert at Altamont Speedway. On the advice of theGrateful Dead, the Stoneshired Hell's Angels as security, but that plan backfired tragically. The entire show was unorganized and inshambles, yet itturned tragic when the Angels killed a young black man, Meredith Hunter, during the Stones' performance. In the wake ofthepublic outcry, the Stones again retreated from the spotlight and dropped "Sympathy for the Devil," which some criticsignorantly claimedincited the violence, from their set.

As the group entered hiatus, they released the live Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! in the fall of 1970. It was their last album forDecca/London, andthey formed Rolling Stones Records, which became a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. During 1970, Jaggerstarred in Nicolas Roeg's cult filmPerformance and married Nicaraguan model Bianca Perez Morena de Macias, and the couplequickly entered high society. As Jagger wasjet-setting, Richards was slumming, hanging out with country-rock pioneer GramParsons. Keith wound up having more musical influence on1971's Sticky Fingers, the first album the Stones released thoughtheir new label. Following its release, the band retreated to France on taxexile, where they shared a house and recorded adouble album, Exile on Main St. Upon its May 1972 release, Exile on Main St. was widelypanned, but over time it came to beconsidered one of the group's defining moments.

Following Exile, the Stones began to splinter in two, as Jagger concentrated on being a celebrity and Richards sank into drugaddiction. Theband remained popular throughout the '70s, but their critical support waned. Goats Head Soup, released in1973, reached number one, asdid 1974's It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, but neither record was particularly well received. Taylor leftthe band after It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, and thegroup recorded their next album as they auditioned new lead guitarists, includingJeff Beck. They finally settled on Ron Wood, former leadguitarist for the Faces and Rod Stewart, in 1976, the same year theyreleased Black n' Blue, which only featured Wood on a handful of cuts.During the mid- and late '70s, all the Stones pursuedside projects, with both Wyman and Wood releasing solo albums with regularity.Richards was arrested in Canada in 1977 withhis common-law wife Anita Pallenberg for heroin possession. After his arrest, he cleaned upand was given a suspendedsentence the following year. The band reconvened in 1978 to record Some Girls, an energetic response to punk,new wave,and disco. The record and its first single, the thumping disco. rocker "Miss You," both reached number one, and thealbumrestored the group's image. However, the group squandered that goodwill with the follow. up, Emotional Rescue, anumber one record thatnevertheless received lukewarm reviews upon its 1980 release. Tattoo You, released the followingyear, fared better both critically andcommercially, as the singles "Start Me Up" and "Waiting on a Friend" helped the albumspend nine weeks at number one. The Stonessupported Tattoo You with an extensive stadium tour captured in Hal Ashby'smovie Let's Spend the Night Together and the 1982 livealbum Still Life.

Tattoo You proved to be the last time the Stones completely dominated the charts and the stadiums. Although the groupcontinued to sellout concerts in the '80s and '90s, their records didn't sell as well as previous efforts, partially because thealbums suffered due to Jaggerand Richards' notorious mid-'80s feud. Starting with 1983's Undercover, the duo conflictedabout which way the band should go, with Jaggerwanting the Stones to follow contemporary trends and Richards wantingthem to stay true to their rock roots. As a result, Undercover was amean-spirited, unfocused record that received relativelyweak sales and mixed reviews. Released in 1986, Dirty Work suffered a worse fate,since Jagger was preoccupied with hisfledgling solo career. Once Jagger decided that the Stones would not support Dirty Work with a tour,Richards decided tomake his own solo record with 1988's Talk Is Cheap. Appearing a year after Jagger's failed second solo album, Talk IsCheapreceived good reviews and went gold, prompting Jagger and Richards to reunite late in 1988. The following year, the StonesreleasedSteel Wheels, which was received with good reviews, but the record was overshadowed by its supporting tour, whichgrossed over 140million dollars and broke many box office records. In 1991, the live album Flashpoint, which was culled fromthe Steel Wheels shows, wasreleased.

Following the release of Flashpoint, Bill Wyman left the band; he published a memoir, Stone Alone, within a few years ofleaving. The Stonesdidn't immediately replace Wyman, since they were all working on solo projects; this time, there was noneof the animosity surrounding theirmid-'80s projects. The group reconvened in 1994 with bassist Darryl Jones, who hadpreviously played with Miles Davis and Sting, torecord and release the Don Was-produced Voodoo Lounge. The albumreceived the band's strongest reviews in years, and its accompanyingtour was even more successful than the Steel Wheelstour. On top of being more successful than its predecessor, Voodoo Lounge also wonthe Stones their first Grammy for BestRock Album. Upon the completion of the Voodoo Lounge tour, the Stones released the live,"unplugged" album Stripped in thefall of 1995. Similarly, after wrapping up their tour in support of 1997's Bridges to Babylon, the groupissued yet another liveset, No Security, the following year. A high-profile greatest-hits tour in 2002 was launched despite the lack of astudio albumto support, and its album document Live Licks appeared in 2004. A year later, the group issued A Bigger Bang, their thirdeffortwith producer Don Was. « hide

Similar Bands: The Who, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds, Aerosmith

LPs
A Bigger Bang
2005

3.1
197 Votes
Bridges to Babylon
1997

2.6
144 Votes
Voodoo Lounge
1994

2.6
145 Votes
Steel Wheels
1989

2.6
116 Votes
Dirty Work
1986

2
147 Votes
Undercover
1983

2.3
83 Votes
Tattoo You
1981

3.7
254 Votes
Emotional Rescue
1980

3
102 Votes
Some Girls
1978

4
328 Votes
Black and Blue
1976

3.3
162 Votes
It's Only Rock 'n Roll
1974

3.3
155 Votes
Goats Head Soup
1973

3.6
258 Votes
Exile on Main St.
1972

4.4
842 Votes
Sticky Fingers
1971

4.4
768 Votes
Let It Bleed
1969

4.3
803 Votes
Beggars Banquet
1968

4.3
662 Votes
Their Satanic Majesties Request
1967

3.6
300 Votes
Between the Buttons
1967

3.8
214 Votes
Aftermath
1966

3.9
367 Votes
December's Children (And Everybody's)
1965

3.6
102 Votes
Out of Our Heads
1965

3.7
168 Votes
The Rolling Stones, Now!
1965

3.6
92 Votes
The Rolling Stones No.2
1965

3.5
97 Votes
12 x 5
1964

3.6
94 Votes
The Rolling Stones
1964

3.6
153 Votes
EPs
Five By Five EP
1964

3.5
10 Votes
The Rolling Stones EP
1964

3.6
8 Votes
Live Albums
Hyde Park Live
07/22/2013

3.3
3 Votes
Some Girls: Live In Texas '78
2011

4
5 Votes
Brussels Affair
2011

4.1
6 Votes
Shine a Light
2008

3.5
37 Votes
Live Licks
2004

3.5
21 Votes
No Security
1998

2.8
9 Votes
Rock and Roll Circus
1996

3.7
15 Votes
Stripped
1995

3.7
24 Votes
Flashpoint
1991

3.6
22 Votes
"Still Life" (American Concert 1981)
1982

2.6
13 Votes
Love You Live
1977

3
15 Votes
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
1970

4
94 Votes
Got Live If You Want It!
1966

2.7
18 Votes
Compilations
GRRR!
11/12/2012

4.5
32 Votes
Rolled Gold+
2007

4
13 Votes
Rarities 1971-2003
2005

3.3
6 Votes
Singles 1968-1971
2005

4.3
2 Votes
Singles 1965-1967
2004

4.5
2 Votes
Singles 1963-1965
2004

4.3
2 Votes
Forty Licks
2002

4.1
171 Votes
Singles Collection: The London Years
1989

4.3
13 Votes
Metamorphosis
1975

3.2
13 Votes
Made In The Shade
1975

3.4
13 Votes
More Hot Rocks
1972

4.4
18 Votes
Hot Rocks
1971

4.3
64 Votes
Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)
1969

4.2
18 Votes
Flowers
1967

3.7
40 Votes
Big Hits
1966

4.4
4 Votes
Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)
1966

3.8
22 Votes

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