The Stones are just three of a growing circle of musicians who were devoted to the music of American artists like Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Elmore James. They perform these artists' songs with an almost missionary zeal to further the R&B cause, as well as earn enough money to stay alive. For some months, the impoverished early Stones live in squalor in London's Edith Grove. They beg gigs from older, jazz-tinged luminaries like Chris Barber, Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner, yet such is the Stones' raw energy and rapid development, they soon leave behind the somewhat purist and divided world of the jazz and blues establishment.
In July, the Stones take their name from a Muddy Waters song called "Rollin' Stone Blues" and make their live debut at London's Marquee Club (minus Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts). They start playing pubs and clubs around the city and suburbs. Bill Wyman joins late in the year -- the popular story being that he was asked because he had his own amplifier!
In January, Charlie Watts joins the Stones and plays his first gigs. The band gigs constantly with residencies at venues like Ealing Jazz Club, Ken Colyer's Studio 51 and Eel Pie Island in Twickenham. Audiences often consist of fellow budding blues musicians like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. Their weekly steamy nights at the Crawdaddy at Richmond's Station Hotel result in ecstatic press reviews, and in April a sharp young mover called Andrew Loog Oldham catches the Stones at the Crawdaddy and signs them to his management company the next day. He starts the "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone" press campaign which endears the group to hordes of youngsters who find the Beatles a tad cute. The shockwaves are still being felt today.
In May, the Stones are signed to Decca Records by an A&R man infamous for turning down the Beatles. A month later "Come On," the first Rolling Stones single, is released. An older generation recoils in horror as the group performs the song on England's top pop TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars." The song -- an obscure Chuck Berry cover -- climbs to No. 21 on the U.K. charts. The second single, "I Wanna Be Your Man," is given to the group by John Lennon and Paul McCartney after they run into the Stones on the street. They finish writing it on the spot. That reaches No. 12. Live gigs are already attracting hordes of screaming teenage girls who drown out the band.
The group start the year on their first major package tour supporting America's Ronettes, the girl group produced by Phil Spector. In January, the Rolling Stones EP -- four covers of current U.S. rock'n'soul classics -- appears. In February, they release a third single, a version of Bo Diddley's "Not Fade Away," which features Phil Spector on maracas.
By now the Stones are becoming a ferocious R&B machine. They ditch the stage uniforms, grow their hair longer and inspire a legion of lookalikes. No group in history has sparked such horror in the older generation. "Not Fade Away" becomes the Stones' first Top 10 entry, hitting No. 3. The first album immediately sparks controversy for being untitled and featuring no writing on the cover. It reaches No.1. The record mainly consists of raw, feisty covers by heroes like Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon. It also features the first bona fide Jagger/Richards composition, "Tell Me," which was written after Andrew Oldham locked them in his kitchen with the intent of writing some songs. In April, there's teen mayhem when they play the NME Pollwinners' Concert at Wembley Arena.
In June, the band's cover of the Valentinos' "It's All Over Now" becomes the Stones' first No.1 and gold record. It was recorded at Chicago's legendary Chess studios -- home of Muddy Waters and other Stones heroes -- during the group's first visit to the States that month. The Stones go on to predate the dance music explosion by 25 years and headline their fan club's "All Night Rave" at London's Alexandra Palace, which also features John Lee Hooker and winds down at 6:30 a.m.
In August, more Chess material appears on the Five By Five EP, and November caps an eventful year with another chart-topper -- a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster."
The momentum continues -- as does the band's superhuman schedule -- with a second chart-topping album, Rolling Stones Number 2. In February, the single "The Last Time" (the first A-side to be written by Mick and Keith) also hits No. 1.
In August "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" sweeps the world and becomes one of the biggest Stones anthems ever. Keith says he woke up in the middle of the night in a motel room with that riff in his head and had to whack it down there and then. The following month sees the release of the Got Live If You Want It EP -- a noisy record of the live show recorded over the first three days of the March U.K. tour. The Out Of Our Heads album, recorded between U.S. dates and featuring a bunch of Jagger/Richards gems, is released in July. The chart topping "Get Off My Cloud" puts the cap on another action-packed year.
February sees the single "19th Nervous Breakdown," followed by the ground-breaking, chart-vaulting Aftermath album, on which the Stones start to experiment with different instruments and 11-minute tracks. Every song is written by Mick and Keith. In May, the expansion of the Stones' sound continues on the number one "Paint It Black" single, where Brian's sitar rides the pummelling beat. September's "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadows?" single sees the group's first dabblings with full-on psychedelia. October sees the group's last U.K. tour for three years (with Ike & Tina Turner supporting).
The Between The Buttons album sees a further flowering of the psychedelically inclined studio experimentation expanding the Stones' current whimsical English pop music. In February, Mick and Keith are arrested when Keith's Redlands home is raided by the police. Thus starts the run of high-profile court appearances that divide the nation's generations and are widely believed to be part of some greater conspiracy to silence the unbelievably powerful Stones. But despite all the charges hurled against Jagger, Richards and Jones, no Stone went to jail for any extended period.
After the bust, the Stones tour Europe to literally riotous responses in many cases, and headline the massively popular "Sunday Night At The London Palladium" TV show, where they perform the already-controversial "Let's Spend The Night Together" single and its genteel flip "Ruby Tuesday." They spark further outrage by refusing to ride on the silly roundabout at the end of the show.
In August, the hastily assembled "We Love You" single is released to thank the public for their support during the Jagger/Richards trials. Lennon and McCartney pop up on backing vocals while Mick and girlfriend Marianne Faithful return the favor by joining in with the Beatles "All You Need Is Love" for the "Our World" simultaneous satellite TV broadcast. In December, the highly experimental Their Satanic Majesties Request album baffles many with its extended psychedelic explorations, but still hits the top three. Much attention is focused on its three-dimensional sleeve.
In May, the Stones make a surprise appearance at the end of the NME Pollwinners' Concert. It is immediately obvious that the group have returned to their blues roots as they tear into the new "Jumpin' Jack Flash" single and "Satisfaction." After the uncertainty of the previous year the Stones are back to claim their crown as Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band In The World. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is released later that month and pole vaults to the top. The Beggars Banquet album is supposed to follow in August, but Decca objects to the Stones' graffiti-splattered toilet wall sleeve and it finally emerges in a plain white cover in December. The album launch party ends up with the Stones hurling custard pies in the faces of Decca executives. The album itself shows a new maturity and bluesy raunch, as well as the dark and dangerous image epitomized by "Sympathy For The Devil."
After a meeting with other band members, Brian leaves the Stones on June 8, saying he wants to form a new group. A few days later the Stones hold a photo call in London's Hyde Park to introduce their new guitarist, Mick Taylor, who was formerly in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He will make his live debut with the Stones at a free concert to be held in the park on July 5, and plays on the upcoming single, "Honky Tonk Women"/"You Can't Always Get What You Want."
On July 3, Brian Jones is found dead in his swimming pool in Sussex. The Hyde Park gig becomes a memorial for Brian and the group unveil their new songs. The classic bar room raunch of "Honky Tonk Women" is unleashed a week later and shoots to No. 1.
The chart-topping Let It Bleed album is released in December and turns out to be another feast of apocalyptic blues ("Gimme Shelter"), salacious melodrama ("Midnight Rambler") and more tales from the darkside. The Stones embark on their first U.S. tour since 1966 and, in the new climate of audiences who sit and listen, find the new live power and sense of occasion which remains with them to this day. The U.S. tour climaxes in December with the tragic Altamont Speedway concert.
Two years after it was filmed, Mick Jagger's movie debut in Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance finally gets released. Jagger plays reclusive rock star Turner. It's accompanied by a soundtrack to which Mick contributed "Memo from Turner."
In September, a live album of the previous year's Madison Square Garden show New York, Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, hits No. 1. It's initially designed as an official alternative to the Stones bootlegs starting to appear. The 1969 tour also results in the movie, Gimme Shelter.
The Stones, whose contract with Decca has expired, launch their Rolling Stones Records imprint with the mighty double header of "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch," which continue to push the barriers and court controversy with their lyrics. The band undertake a farewell tour of the U.K. as they prepare to go into tax exile in the south of France. In April the mothership album, Sticky Fingers, appears with a sleeve designed by Andy Warhol, which depicts a mystery groin complete with adjustable zipper! While the rock 'n' roll is sleazier than ever, a beautifully damaged haze hangs over tracks like "Sister Morphine" and "Wild Horses," which features the country influence of Keith's new mate, Gram Parsons from the Flying Burrito Brothers.
In April, the Top Five hit "Tumbling Dice" is the first single to trailer the upcoming double album Exile On Mainstreet, recorded in the basement of Keith's house in the south of France. The album is derided at the time for sprawling self-indulgence, but Keith is always glad to point out that it is now held up among the band's most enduring work.
The Stones tour the States -- described by organizer Pete Rudge as "not like a rock 'n' roll tour, more like the Normandy landing." It sees the group setting a standard of the grand spectacle required for stadium gigs.
In August, the balladic "Angie" trailers the more melodic Goats Head Soup album, recorded in Jamaica; stirring it up with the controversial "Starfucker" finale. The tour hits Europe, including a spectacular stretch at Wembley Arena.
July's Top 10 single, "It's Only Rock'n'Roll," started life in Ronnie Wood's South London home studio, with David Bowie on backing vocals and the Faces' Kenny Jones on drums. The roughhouse rock feel is continued on the album of the same name, although the highlight could be considered the haunting ballad, "Time Waits For No One."
The Stones/Wood connection becomes closer when Keith appears on most of Ronnie's first solo album, I've Got My Own Album To Do, and both Mick Taylor and Jagger guest. Keith appears with Ronnie at his Kilburn State gig in July. In December Mick Taylor quits to pursue a solo career.
After much speculation and a string of recording sessions-cum-auditions in Munich, which eventually give birth to the Black and Blue album, the Stones announce Mick Taylor's replacement -- Ronnie Wood. (Candidates who didn't get past the jamming phase include Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton and Rory Gallagher). Ronnie has already taken leave from the Faces to tour with the Stones, and Keith admits he nearly asked him to join back when Brian left.
Black and Blue is released in April and features those guest spots from guitarists Harvey Mandel, Wayne Perkins and the successful Mr. Wood. "Fool to Cry" is the single and makes the Top 10. That summer, the group tour and appear straddling an unfolding lotus stage complete with giant inflatable penis and Tarzan rope for Mick.
In February, Keith and Anita Pallenberg are busted in Toronto, where the Stones are playing some low-key club dates to record for an upcoming live album. October's Love You Live double album features songs from the previous tour and a side from the Toronto gigs at the El Mocambo club.
The dance music-influenced "Miss You" (one of the early 12" singles) hits the number one spot in the U.S. The Some Girls LP follows. Originally called Some More Fast Numbers, some say the charged energy level is influenced by the recent punk rock explosion. In fact, the next single, "Respectable," shows the group commenting on their new status as "pillars of society" -- before slamming into brief acquaintance Margaret Trudeau, the Stones-slumming wife of the Canadian Prime Minister.
The Stones tour America to wildly enthusiastic audiences and equally ecstatic reviews. All stage props have been stripped back, to allow room for the new energy coursing through the group with a totally integrated Ronnie Wood and fully-cylindered Keith Richards.
Wood releases a third solo album, Gimme Some Neck, which again features Keith and Mick. In April, the Stones join together to support Keith, doing a set for the Benefit Concert for the blind which honors the Toronto court's sentencing commitment. Keith then joins Ronnie for the New Barbarians tour. The Barbs appear at the Knebworth Festival supporting Led Zeppelin.
In June a new single, the reggae and disco-tinged "Emotional Rescue," trailers the album of the same name and hits the Top 10.
August sees "Start Me Up" motor into the Top 10 as a slashing kickstart trailer for the upcoming album, Tattoo You, which also includes the warm follow-up single, "Waiting On A Friend." The Stones undertake the first of periodic mega-tours which sees them astride a colossal stadium-stage, complete with hydraulic platforms and huge avant garde paintings.
The Stones tour hits Europe, including several nights at London's Wembley Stadium. In June, the Stones release Still Life, a live album drawn from the '81 American gigs along with the group's cover of "Going To A Go Go."
It's August and in typical Stones fashion, an agreement is reached and signed at 3:00 a.m. in Paris' Ritz Hotel by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and CBS head Walter Yetnikoff. The deal is reportedly worth 28 million dollars and calls for the Stones to deliver four studio albums.
In October, the "Undercover Of The Night" single is unveiled with the theme of South American political unrest dominating an epic video directed by Julian Temple. Mick's execution scene stirs some controversy while Keith sports a skull mask and a gun. The single reached the Top 10, as did the album with its peel-the-stickers-off-the-stripper sleeve.
In February, the Stones are in Paris recording Dirty Work at Pathe-Marconi Studio. Mick Jagger releases his first solo album, She's The Boss. In June he duets with David Bowie on the specially recorded version of "Dancing In The Street" for Live Aid. Mick also appears at the all-day event in Philadelphia, singing a saucy duet with Tina Turner in which he whips off her skirt. It's his first ever live solo set performed in front of 1.5 billion viewers. Later that day, Keith and Ronnie flank Bob Dylan for an acoustic set to close the show at JFK Stadium. Three months later, Keith and Ronnie repeat their acoustic act, backing Bono for a version of "Silver And Gold," which appears on the Artists United Against Apartheid album.
Later that year, the Stones begin work on a new album. Near the end of the sessions -- which the group later admit were not their most harmonious -- their road manager, soul brother and "Sixth Stone" Ian Stewart dies of a massive heart attack in London at the age of 47. Ian had been with the group since the start and still played piano on stage. "We all felt the glue had come unstuck," says a grieving Keith.
"Harlem Shuffle" -- a cover of Bob & Earl's 1964 hit featuring soul legend Bobby Womack on backing vocals -- is released in March and hits the Top 20. The Dirty Work album follows and is dedicated to Ian Stewart. It closes with one of Keith's most moving ballads, "Sleep Tonight." Again there is no tour although Charlie takes the big band across the States later that year and repeats the exercise during lulls in the Stones' schedule from then on.
Keith records his first solo album for Virgin Records at Montreal's Le Studio. Taylor Hackford's Chuck Berry tribute, Hail! Hail! Rock'N'Roll, opens in October. Keith is the musical director of the movie, which features performances by Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Richards himself.
Mick releases his second solo album, Primitive Cool, and enjoys an hugely successful tour of Japan and Australia. In September, Keith's debut album, Talk Is Cheap, is released. He follows this with a three-week sold-out tour of the U.S. with his back-up band, the X-Pensive Winos. "Take It So Hard" is the first single and video released.
On October 16th, Keith, whose house in Jamaica suffered hurricane damage, guests at the "Smile Jamaica" hurricane relief benefit concert at the Dominion Theater, London. He plays two songs with U2-- "Love Rescue Me" and "When Love Comes To Town."
At the start of the year, the Rolling Stones are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Mick, Keith, Ron and Mick Taylor are present at the ceremony held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The absence of Wyman and presence of Taylor sparks rumors that the Stones will tour with Taylor replacing Wyman, and Ron Wood will move to the bass. Pete Townshend helps induct the Stones, telling them in his speech, "Guys, whatever you do, don't try to grow old gracefully. It wouldn't suit you." Mick replies in his own speech: "After a lifetime of bad behavior, it's slightly ironic that tonight you see us on our best behavior." Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Mick Taylor join the now-expected all-star jam session, during which Mick duets with Tina Turner on "Honky Tonk Women," and with Little Richard on "Can't Turn You Loose" and "Bony Moronie." He then brings down the house with "Start Me Up."
Keith releases his second video "Make No Mistake," directed by Paula Grief, from Talk Is Cheap in March. In May, he is presented with the "Living Legend Award" at the International Rock Awards.
Earlier, Mick and Keith meet at Eddy Grant's studio in Barbados to see if they can still write songs together. Before the meeting, there's speculation as to whether the two can still remain in the same room. Two months later, they have 12 new tunes ready, plus the usual welter of unfinished ideas. Working like they did on the classic albums of the '60's and '70's -- from the groundfloor and building -- they come out with a string of gems, which are then honed and bashed into shape by the whole group at George Martin's AIR Studios in Montserrat with Chris Kimsey co-producing. The band whack everything down live in five weeks, with mixing to follow in London.
In July, the Rolling Stones hold a press conference at New York's Grand Central Station to announce their forthcoming Steel Wheels tour and album. Mick holds up a ghetto blaster and plays the new "Mixed Emotions" single to the assembled world media. It's released in August and puts the group back onto the world's charts.
Steel Wheels is a Stones classic. A complete album of new stuff, as opposed to touched up old demos like much of the late-'70's and '80's output. The sound is raw and bristling on tracks like the first single, "Mixed Emotions," but the album also proves the band can still deliver gorgeous ballads like "Almost Hear You Sigh," or Keith's lovely "Slippin' Away."
While the album is generally acclaimed as the group's best in years, the group make it a double whammy with the awesome scope and spectacle of the "Steel Wheels" tour. The stage set is the biggest ever, a surreal post-nuclear nightmare factory, all girders, funnels and catwalks bathed in ferocious lighting and walls of fire and smoke. The set straddles the Stones' entire career in over two hours with every song a piece-de-resistance -- from the giant inflatable "Honky Tonk Women" to Mick's materialization one hundred feet above the stage for "Sympathy." The group play like their lives depend on it, and also like they were having a total blast.
Starting in Philadelphia on August 30, the huge operation (a veritable mobile army) goes on to play around 70 gigs. In December, the U.S. leg ends up at the Atlantic City Convention Center for a radio-TV simulcast. Guests include John Lee Hooker, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin from Guns 'N Roses, and Eric Clapton.
In February, the Stones tour Japan for the first time with 10 sold-out shows at Tokyo's Korakuen Dome, playing to 50,000 a night. For Europe, Steel Wheels gives way to Urban Jungle -- partly because European stadiums aren't big enough for the huge set, partly because they just fancied a change of scenery. The new stage resembles a post-nuclear tropical ruin, with giant inflatable dogs appearing during "Street Fighting Man." It hits London's Wembley Stadium in July, then again in August at the end of the tour, with the resurrection of the Steel Wheels set. Over the past year, the Stones have played 115 shows to over six million people.
All five members of the band immerse themselves in solo projects. In November, at the London office of the Stones' financial advisor Rupert Loewenstein, Mick, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie are present for the signing of the Stones' deal with Virgin Records.
The Stones take the year off to recharge their batteries. Meanwhile Richards records and releases his second solo album, Main Offender, on Virgin. He tours Europe and then goes where no Stone has gone before -- Argentina, where the X-Pensive Winos play to a Buenos Aires crowd of 40,000.
The Stones celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their first single. During a live interview on the BBC's "London Tonight" news program in January, Bill Wyman finally makes it official: "I really don't want to do it anymore." Regarding his efforts to prevent Bill from quitting, Keith states: "I did everything but hold him at gunpoint." Also in January, Ronnie plays the first of four solo concerts in Japan, wrapping up on the 14th at Tokyo's Budokan. Meanwhile, Mick releases his third solo album, Wandering Spirit. The night of the release, Mick plays a private concert for 1,200 invited guests at New York's Webster Hall. Guests include Robert De Niro and Francis Ford Coppola. Mick performs 11 songs from his new album, then encores with the Stones' "Rip This Joint," "Live With Me," and "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing In The Shadows)?" The tour ends with sell-out shows in Tokyo. Three days later in Seattle, Keith opens the U.S. leg of his Main Offender tour. Later in the year, Billy Joel ind
ucts Keith into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
After pre-production in Barbados, the Stones gather in Dublin, Ireland at Windmill Studios to start work on a new album. Their first under a new deal with Virgin, the band sees much of the back catalogue re-mastered on CD. Don Was is picked as co-producer of Voodoo Lounge alongside the Glimmer Twins. Was, who made his name with the surreal rock 'n' soul of Was Not Was, has recently produced Bonnie Raitt, the B-52's, Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop. Bassist Darryl Jones and keyboard player Chuck Leavell are called in to help out. Other guests include Ivan Neville, Bobby Womack, Bernard Fowler, Benmont Tench, Flaco Jimenez and Luis Jardim.
The results are staggering. As virtually all reviews have pointed out, Voodoo Lounge is peak Stones; a group firing on all cylinders. After the success of the Steel Wheels project, the Stones know they have nothing to prove and the new sound seems less self-conscious and more inventive than their recent work. It's the sound of a group getting together and raising the hell they know and love. Mick's singing is stronger and more expressive than usual, notably on the chilling anti-terrorism ballad "Blinded By Rainbows," and lascivious car song "Brand New Car," which is in the best tradition of double entendre blues. Like all Rolling Stones classic albums, each song is propelled by Keith's explosive guitar riffs and underpinned by Charlie's ferocious drumming.
The album and its accompanying tour is announced in New York -- this time after the group arrive via boat at Pier 60. The tour kicks off on August 1 at Washington. D.C.'s RFK Stadium, and plays the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America and the Far East. As Bobby Keys, long time Stones sax player, once remarked in a choice moment during the 1971 outing: "Looks like rock 'n' roll is on the road again!"
And how! The Voodoo Lounge tour launches with a shower of praise from critics and fans alike. In between playing to sold-out shows in stadiums across the U.S., the Stones find time to pick up an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, plus a Billboard Award for Artistic Excellence. The band also make history on November 10, when they become the first rock 'n' roll band to broadcast a concert live on the Internet. By the end of the year, sales of the Voodoo Lounge album pass the four million mark, and the North American leg of the tour is written into the record books as the most successful tour in history.
The year starts in Stones' usual breathless fashion -- this time because of the high altitude of Mexico City's Autodromo Stadium. A lack of oxygen was no problem throughout the South American leg of the tour. Having never played South America as a band before, the Stones are greeted with a fever-pitch hysteria that's overwhelming, even by Latin standards. In Argentina, they are mobbed wherever they go and are kept awake by 5:00 a.m. reprises of the chorus of "Wild Horses."
The band sweep through South Africa, a seven-night sell-out stand at the Tokyo Dome, and Australasia before embarking on the final leg of the tour in Europe on June 3 in Stockholm. In Montpellier, they are joined on stage by Bob Dylan for the aptly-titled "Like a Rolling Stone." The band later release their version of the song as a single. While on the road, the band find time to stop and record acoustic versions of classics like "Street Fighting Man," and more arcane numbers like "Spider and the Fly" and "I'm Free." These tracks make up the live acoustic album Stripped. The tour ends in Rotterdam on August 30 with the promise that this will definitely not be the last time.
While the release of Stripped is seen as a present-day celebration of past glories, the Stones end the year by re-enforcing their commitment to the future by making it enhanced with multimedia content. The band also launch their second official website (Stonesworld) and release their debut CD-ROM (Voodoo Lounge).
Even when not active, the Stones are everywhere, with music featured in Casino (released late in '95), Basquiat (in which Keith also has a song called "Nearness to You" recorded in 1980), and The Fan. Meanwhile, the band once again get involved in solo projects. Charlie Watts is the first to break cover with the release of his quintet's Long Ago & Far Away, which features classics from the likes of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael. At his home in Jamaica, Keith completes production work on an album which features traditional Rastafarian Bingi drums (to be released later this year).
The Stones continue to redefine rock music and themselves in the process. The ageless rockers begin recording the follow-up to Voodoo Lounge in a Los Angeles studio with executive producer Don Was and producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. The Dust Brothers (Beck, the Beastie Boys) take over behind the mixing board, with mixer/producer Danny Saber (who has re-mixed tracks for U2 and Garbage) and Was also producing a few songs each. Bridges To Babylon is released in the fall.
In November, the Stones chronicle their 1998 tour with the release of No Security, their third live album of the dec