The Rolling Stones

Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. The Rolling Stones practically invented it in the 60’s and 70’s. They were promoted as the bad alternative to the clean cut Beatles, but were pretty much the same. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were from the Kentish suburb of London called Dartford. They had known each other at primary school and met up when they were buying obscure Blues records at the beginning of the decade. The band was started by Brian Jones who was a brilliant but unstable guitarist. They lived in a madhouse and started recording revved up rare blues songs in 1963. They always followed behind the Beatles at that stage. Girls would get hysterical and follow them everywhere so much that the screaming would drown out the sound. Buy 1965 Mick and Keith started writing for themselves and they started to overtake the Beatles as the No. 1.

1967 saw the Beatles record Sgt Pepper which was a massive departure and a serious musical statement. Everybody else saw the opportunity to get away from 3 minute love songs and write. Unfortunately none were successful, the use of mind expanding drugs hampered the writing and recording process. The Beatles seem to have written when they not influenced which allowed the creative processes to flow. The result for the Stones was “Their Satanic Majesties Request” which was a disappointment. But 1968 they turned away from the summer of love and got back to Rock and Roll. Jumping Jack Flash it’s a gas, gas, gas. They were writing Rock on their own terms and they had really started as the Beatles were fading.

Driven by Keith’s full, cutting, original rhythms, on his open tuned Telecaster (usually), they produced their own sound. Charlie Watts solid drumming and Bill Wyman laid a solid foundation while Mick camped up and energised his separately written lyrics. Brian was always there to provide a new direction whether it was slide guitar or sitar or whatever, but he was starting to disappear. He was indiscriminate with drug taking and was not of this planet and soon not of this world. He died in 1969 after being sacked by the band. They played a free concert in Hyde Park London in memory of him. By now Mick used Coke to energise his performance and Keith used smack to cope with the fame he detested. But they were stronger and more controlled in their use, allegedly. These drugs would bring them up and down every night on their massive world tours for the next 10 years, and somehow they are still here.

Mick Taylor a renowned blues player took over as lead guitar and the Stones entered into their golden era. Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street represented the peak of their work. Not afraid to play country, soul, and blues they recorded an album a year on their terms. 1973 saw Goats Head Soup, with them singing about their girlfriends. Star Star possibly being the ultimate Stones song. Classic revved up blues riff and singing about the girlfriend they had all been boyfriend to, shame it would be illegal now.

Mick Taylor left mid-decade to be replaced by Ron Wood. He was the engine room that complemented Keith and they kept on rocking. Singing songs about, sex, drugs and the Rock and Roll circus could get boring, but it didn’t. They had a formula and it kept on working. Playing massive stadium gigs they knew how to entertain and always put on a show by all means necessary.

Still going, still touring and still recording. They are the best, known for their bad behaviour and cannot be killed by conventional weapons. Boys I am satisfied, never stop believing in yourselves because love you or hate you nobody can take it away from you.

Skydancer (2017)