When Mick Jagger cried "Come on!" on the first ever Rolling Stones record, it was a clarion cail of the liberated Sixties. A flurry of tousled hair, a burst of frantic guitar riffs and The Stones became overnight champions of youthful rebellion.
lt is impossible to overestimate their impact. At the time,'it was also impossible to dream those noisy, anarchie, androgynous English teenagers,would become legends, still blasting out their own brand of rock 30 years down the line.
Against all the odds, The Rolling Stones outiasted The Beaties, survived drug scandals, arrests, even the death and impris- onment of band members. From 'Satisfaction' to Voodoo Lounge, they are responsible for some of the greatest toeltapping chart toppers of all time.
'The Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band In The World" was bom and grew up in the tiny bars and clubs
of the London suburbs, but soon graduated to big'ger arenas and conquered America. The individual Stones, once penniless students, became international celebrities, notorious, wealthy and never out of the headlines as their careers fulfilled all the potential for drama showcased in that first single.
Mick Jagger became a great mid-twentieth century icon-the wild-eyed boy with the sensual lips and wiggling hips was up'there among the most recognizable faces of his generation.
Brian Jones, his rival for the affections and attention of the fans, became a tragic casualty of a crazed and hedonistic lifestyle.
When he was sacked from the band, and later drowned in his own swimrning pool, the Stones' age of innocence died with him.
Keith Richard, their boyish-looking lead guitarist, symbolized excess: battered and hooked on hard drugs for a long time. He was the Stones' portrait of Dorian Gray-on exhibition to the worid, rather than hidden in an attic.
But it was Bill Wyman, the immobile and expressioniess bass player, who was responsible for their first brush with authority. Relieving himself behind a gas station led to ludicrous press overreaction. In the law-abiding and reactionary Sixties !t helped ereate the image of the Stones as "wild men of pop."
As contrast to the other reprobate Stones, Charlie Watts-their lugubrious, sarcastic drummer- was always at pains to distancehimself from musie biz excesses, A jazz fan for whom the idea of pop stardom was always a joke, he nevertheless felt immense pride in the band's success and was a tower of strength whenever the Stones were under pressure.
As for later Stones, guitarists Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood, celebrity affected them in different ways. Taylor found it difficult to cope with being a Stone, even though he looked the part. Ronnie Wood couldn't get enough of it, as he switched allegiance from former boss Rod Stewart to rave it up with Jagger and Richard,
The band who started out as dedicated R&B revivalists became Swinging Sixties' pop stars and then made the transition to Seventies' stadium rock giants. in the process, Brian Jones, manager Andrew Loog Oldham and Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull -key players in the Stones' rise to fame -faded away as Mick Jagger asserted his leadership. lt was never going to be a straightforward story.
Despite (or occasionally because of) traumas and disasters, the Stones created rock history on a daily basis throughout the late-Sixties and Seventies. They continued to somehow-uphold their status as a band. They even survived the unthinkable a bust-up of the partnership between Jagger and Richard, when the old friends parted during the mid-Eighties to pursue solo careers. When the dust settled, it was clear that, more important than any brush with the law or the devil, the succession øf hit albums and singles kept their appeal alive and relevant. Richard and Jagger, at first turned on by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley records, had developed into a songwriting team whose work revealed great originality: '(I Can't, Get No) Satisfaction', 'Paint lt Black'''The Last Time', 'Get Off Of My Cloud', '19th Nervous Breakdown', 'Let's Spend The Night Together', 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', 'Honky Tonk Women' and 'Brown Sugar'.
It's easy to miss the fact, hidden between the awesome list af classic songs and their reputation as minor delties, that the Stones were never the slickest band. Sometimes their performances were ramshackle and many af their songs were weak, or led down blind musical alleys.
They could becom casual or sloppy on stage and i the studio. Projecting Jagger as dancing sex symbol took precedence over making albums that were up to scratch, But nobody was more critical when things went wrong than the Stones themselves. The sixth mernber, piano player Ian 'Stu' Stewart (who tater becart their tour manager would fondly call them 'a shower i shit' when they got too cocky.
Always just when the most loyal supporters began to feel the Stones were losing their grip they'd come roaring back armed with great new record, a sellout spectaclar tour and all their old magic intact.
In 1994 The Rolling Stones returned to the fray with a new album, Voodoo Lounge, another sell-out tour of the States and whole new generation of fans eager to see the legends in action.
The Sixties rebels had now reached middie-age and the band suffered the loss of another member, when stalwart Bill Wyman finally hung up his bass guitar. It made no difference to ticket sales. Even though their boyish good looks had long since faded, Jagger remained a ball of energy; singing better than ever, and regaining many of the blues charaeteristics that had given his voice such strength in the days of 'lt's All Over 'Now', and 'The last Time'.
The continuing need to provide a musical focus to their lives means that despite the protestations made in their youth-that they couldn't see themselves onstage at 50, the Stones are still rolling.
lt's not over-yet!
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