As the Rolling Stones geared up for their 60th anniversary tour, which is now in full swing, many fans wondered, “Should I get tickets?” Is this the last time? When will the Stones quit?
Never, it seems, the answer to this question. If you’re under 30 reading this, people prematurely packed the Stones long before you were born.
It’s a natural progression – a young rock band gets their big break, spends a few years on top of the world, and eventually crumbles thanks to a colossal rift within the band. A Rock n’ Roll band rides on passion, euphoria and hormonal youth – it stands to reason that they eventually run out of fuel.
The Stones, however, almost single-handedly wrote the playbook of how to stick together for decades while continuing to evolve and inspire. And with the way Mick Jagger continues at 78, who knows how long they might last.
Their 60 years as a band has been one iconic moment after another, cementing their place as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, certainly the most enduring if nothing else. Let’s review a few moments of the Stones’ unparalleled history below.
1. Mick meets Keith: The Blues Boys
The iconic duo of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been going strong since the 1950s. The pair lived within doors of each other in Dartford, Kent, creating a friendship between the two youngsters. A few years later, Richards’ family moved “across the tracks” and the two rarely saw each other, until one fateful day in October 1961.
On a platform at Dartford station, Richards noticed Jagger carrying Chuck Berry’s “Rockin’ at the Hops” and “The Best of Muddy Waters”. Their shared love of music spawned an R&B group, The Blues Boys, which saw Richards play guitar and Jagger take on lead vocals.
In 1962, the group merged with Blues Incorporated, a formation made up of their future Stones comrades, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts. Taking their name from a Muddy Waters song, they played their first gig together as the Rollin’ Stones (without the ‘g’).
2. Full-scale British invasion
While the Beatles’ first tour of the United States in 1964 was a true British invasion, the Stones instead washed ashore on the other side of the pond. In 1964, their only major hit in the US was a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. Two days after being ridiculed by Dean Martin for their long hair at the “Hollywood Palace”, the band played their first show in San Bernardino, California.
It wasn’t until they returned to the United States for the second time that they experienced the same fanfare as the Beatles, now having a Ed Sullivan Show debut in their rearview mirror. As they sat down with Sullivan to chat, the cheers from the audience erupted over the famed variety host.
3. Stones Get Some Satisfaction
Newsweek called them the “five notes that shook the world”. After achieving some success on both sides of the Atlantic, Stones manager Andrew Oldham suggested the band start writing their own songs. Jagger and Richards got to work, sparking what would become an iconic songwriting partnership.
Although they’ve shared a few original offers before, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” took the group to the next level. The riff came to Richards in the middle of the night, when he quickly got up and wrote it down using a Philips cassette player. Jagger then added the lyrics near a hotel pool in Clearwater, Florida, and the rest is Stones history.
In 1965, the anthem of teenage sexual frustration and American commercialism rumbled from loudspeakers, making everything else tame in comparison.
4. Pop Stars: the truth that will shock you
By 1967, the Stones were superstars with nine US Top 10 hits and multiple arena tours.
Around the same time Ed Sullivan had them change the words to “Let’s spend the night together”, they also became the subjects of a three-part talk titled Pop Stars: the truth that will shock you— making Sullivan’s attempt to make the group more PG a little questionable.
The News of the World play provided a vivid portrayal of rock star debauchery and drug use. The author also caused a stir by confusing Jones and Jagger, who then decided to continue publishing.
During the pursuit process, police raided a party at Richards’ Redlands estate, arresting the guitarist along with Jagger for drug trafficking. Although they were able to avoid jail time, the incident exposed the rampant drug use that plagued the Rock N’ Roll sphere.
As 1967 drew to a close, the Stones embraced the rainbow of psychedelia on their eighth album Request from Their Satanic Majesties. The entire effort marked the beginning of the Stones’ unbreakable bond with hedonism.
5. Banquet of beggars and the death of Brian Jones
“Please allow me to introduce myself…” was the provocative come-on that opened the Stones Banquet of beggars and started arguably the greatest four album of all time.
Get out of psychedelia satanic majesties, the Stones plunged back into their blues roots, made a foray into country and unveiled a pair of classic rock masterpieces – “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man”. It was also the last Stones album to feature Jones before he was fired from the band, largely because of his drug use.
In 1969, Jones was found in his swimming pool, the victim of what the coroner called “death by misadventure”. Two days later, the Stones played their first gig with guitarist Mick Taylor, creating a new line-up that would work its magic on their next five albums.
6. The Stones Concert at Altamont
By the late ’60s, the band was playing a major role in starting the era’s peace and love movement, trading it for conflict and chaos. While it may not have been their idea, during a show at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival in Northern California, their headliner security came from the notorious Hell’s Angels motorcycle club.
In the midst of filming the Stones, an 18-year-old wielding a gun was stabbed to death by one of the Angels. It was filmed for give me shelteradding a key moment to the legendary rock documentary.
Writing for Esquire, Ralph Gleason said, “If the name ‘Woodstock’ has come to denote the blossoming of a phase of youth culture, ‘Altamont’ has come to signify its end.”
7. Sticky Fingers Album Cover
Besides being one of the band’s greatest albums, with the best songs “Wild Horses” and “Brown Sugar”, sticky fingers brought more than just hits to the Stones sphere. They commissioned Andy Warhol for the famous jeans pictured on the cover, which would become one of the most iconic album covers of all time. In 2003, VH1 awarded it the highest honor, calling it the greatest cover art in rock history.
The iconic tongue and lip logo, designed by John Pasche, was also introduced on the album cover. Emblematic of the Hindu Goddess Kali, the logo is so iconic that it doesn’t even have to include the band’s name, even casual music fans know exactly who it represents.
8. “Some Girls” and Ronnie Wood
Most bands would have been happy with albums like Goat’s head soup, It’s just rock’n’roll” and black and blue but by Stones standards, the three mid-’70s albums fell short after the success of Exile on the main street.
Although it took the band a minute to get back on track, the Stones brought things back to their former glory with Certain girls in 1978. Not coincidentally, the album was also the first to fully feature Ronnie Wood, the former Faces guitarist who signed up for their 1975 tour.
The Stones released a disco hit with “Miss You”, got into punk with “Shattered” and made waves with the enduring ballad “Beast of Burden.” Sixteen albums, the band was as good as it had ever been, topping the US charts and the best-selling album in the US of their career.
9. Tribute to Charlie Watts
While many other British Invasion bands had lovable drummers, Charlie Watts was anything but. Instead, the Stones’ engine was also the band’s gentleman – the visual artist, the sophisticated jazz.
“I loved playing with Keith and the band – I still love him – but I wasn’t interested in being a pop idol sitting there with screaming girls,” he said in the book. 2003. According to the Rolling Stones. “This is not the world I come from. It’s not what I wanted to be, and I still think it’s silly.
Watts performed with the group for 58 of their 60 consecutive years together before his death on August 24, 2021. Two songs in the launch of their No Filter tour in St. Louis, Jagger and Richards took center stage and took grimly addressed Watt’s absence.
“I just want to say it’s quite emotional to see this footage of Charlie on screen,” Jagger said, referring to a video montage that preceded the show. “It’s the first time we’ve toured without him.”
10. The Stones’ “Sixty” Tour
The Stones are celebrating all of these iconic moments and more throughout their 60th anniversary tour, which is currently taking place in Europe. The tour turned out to be a special series of shows, with the band releasing some deep tracks alongside their favorites. Highlights of the tour so far include a collaboration with a Ukrainian choir in tribute to the beleaguered nation and the live debut of their 1996 track “Out of Time.”
In addition to the Diamond Anniversary Tour, the Stones are set to release a new docuseries on August 7, which claims to be the most in-depth look at the band to date.
Rolling Stones (Photo: Helmut Newton)