The Rolling Stones
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The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London, England in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Mick Jagger (lead vocals), Keith Richards (guitar, backing vocals), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued as a touring member until his death in 1985. Brian Jones was the original leader of the group, however, the band's primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager and their musical focus shifted from covering blues songs to writing original material, a decision Jones did not agree with. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and has been on guitar in tandem with Richards ever since. Following Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones joined as their touring bassist. Touring keyboardists for the band have been Nicky Hopkins (1967-1982), Ian McLagan (1978-1981), Billy Preston (through the mid-1970s) and Chuck Leavell (1982-present).

The Rolling Stones were at the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the United States in 1964, and identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, the group began a short period of musical experimentation in the mid-1960s that peaked with the psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967). Subsequently, the group returned to its "bluesy" roots with Beggars Banquet (1968) which along with its follow-ups Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972) is generally considered to be the band's best work and is seen as their "Golden Age". During this period, they were first introduced on stage as "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World".[1][2] Musicologist Robert Palmer attributed the endurance of the Rolling Stones to their being "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music", while "more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone".[3]

The band continued to release commercially successful albums, including Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981), which were their most popular albums worldwide. From 1983 to 1987, tensions between Jagger and Richards almost caused the band to split, however, they managed to overcome their differences and rekindle their friendship after a temporary separation to work on solo projects. The Stones experienced a comeback with Steel Wheels (1989), which was followed by a large stadium and arena tour. Since the 1990s, new recorded material from the group has been less well-received and less frequent. Despite this, the Rolling Stones have continued to be a huge attraction on the live circuit, with stadium tours in the 1990s and 2000s. By 2007, the band had four of the top five highest-grossing concert tours of all time: Voodoo Lounge Tour (1994-1995), Bridges to Babylon Tour (1997-1998), Licks Tour (2002-2003) and A Bigger Bang Tour (2005-2007).[4]

The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list and their estimated record sales are above 250 million. They have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums and numerous compilations. Let It Bleed (1969) was their first of five consecutive No. 1 studio and live albums in the UK. Sticky Fingers (1971) was the first of eight consecutive No. 1 studio albums in the US. In 2008, the band ranked 10th on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists chart. In 2012, the band celebrated its 50th anniversary.


Early history

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger became childhood friends and classmates in 1950 in Dartford, Kent,[5][6] before the Jagger family moved to Wilmington, five miles (8.05 km) away, in 1954.[7] In the mid-1950s, Jagger formed a garage band with his friend Dick Taylor; the group mainly played material by Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Howlin' Wolf and Bo Diddley.[7] Jagger met Richards again on 17 October 1961 on platform two of Dartford railway station[8] and the Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records that Jagger was carrying revealed a common interest. A musical partnership began shortly afterwards.[9][10] Richards joined Jagger and Taylor at frequent meetings at Jagger's house. The meetings switched to Taylor's house in late 1961, where the three were joined by Alan Etherington and Bob Beckwith; the quintet called themselves the Blues Boys.[11]

In March 1962, the Blues Boys read about the Ealing Jazz Club in Jazz News newspaper, which mentioned Alexis Korner's rhythm and blues band, Blues Incorporated. The group sent a tape of their best recordings to Korner, who was favourably impressed.[12] On 7 April, Korner visited Ealing Jazz Club, where they met the members of Blues Incorporated, who included the slide guitarist Brian Jones, the keyboardist Ian Stewart and the drummer Charlie Watts.[12] After a meeting with Korner, Jagger and Richards started jamming with the group.[12]

Jones, no longer in a band, advertised for bandmates in Jazz Weekly, while Stewart found them a practice space;[13] together they decided to start a band playing Chicago blues. Soon after, Jagger, Taylor and Richards left Blues Incorporated to join Jones and Stewart. At the first rehearsal were also the guitarist Geoff Bradford and the vocalist Brian Knight, both of whom decided not to join the band, citing objections to playing the Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs preferred by Jagger and Richards.[14] In June 1962 the line-up of Jagger, Richards, Jones, Stewart and Taylor was completed with the addition of the drummer Tony Chapman. According to Richards, Jones named the band during a phone call to Jazz News. When asked by a journalist for the band's name, Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor; one of the tracks was "Rollin' Stone".[15][16]

1962-1964: Building a following

The back room of what was the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, London where the Rolling Stones had their first residency in 1963

Jones, Jagger, Richards, Stewart, and Taylor played a gig billed as "the Rollin' Stones" on 12 July 1962, at the Marquee Club in London.[17][18][a] Shortly afterwards the band went on their first tour of the UK, which they called a "training ground" tour, because it was a new experience for all of them. Their material included the Chicago blues as well as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs.[21] The band's original rhythm section did not include bassist Bill Wyman, who joined in December 1962, or drummer Charlie Watts, who joined in January 1963.[22][23] By 1963 they were finding their musical stride as well as popularity,[24] and in 1964 two unscientific opinion polls rated them as Britain's most popular group, even outranking the Beatles.[25] The name of the band was changed shortly after their first gig to "The Rolling Stones".[26][27] The group's then acting manager, Giorgio Gomelsky, secured a Sunday afternoon residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond in February 1963,[28] which, Gomelsky claimed, triggered an "international renaissance for the blues".[29]

In May 1963, The Rolling Stones signed Andrew Loog Oldham as their manager;[30] he was a former publicist who had been directed to the band by his previous clients, the Beatles.[31][18] Because Oldham was only nineteen and had not reached the age of majority - he was also younger than anyone in the band - he could not get an agent's licence nor sign any contracts without his mother also signing.[31] By necessity he joined with booking agent Eric Easton[32] in order to secure record financing and assistance booking venues.[33] Gomelsky, who had no written agreement with the band, was not consulted.[34] Initially, Oldham tried to apply the strategy used by Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager: making the band members wear suits. Later, he changed his mind and imagined a band which contrasted with the Beatles, featuring unmatched clothing, long hair, an unclean appearance. He later said he wanted to make the Stones "a raunchy, gamy, unpredictable bunch of undesirables" and to "establish that the Stones were threatening, uncouth and animalistic".[35] Stewart left the official line-up, but remained road manager and touring keyboardist. On Stewart's decision, Oldham later said "Well, he just doesn't look the part, and six is too many for [fans] to remember the faces in the picture."[36] Later, Oldham reduced the ages of the band members in publicity to make them appear as teenagers.[37]

Decca Records, which had declined to enter into a deal with the Beatles, gave the Rolling Stones a recording contract with favourable terms.[38] The band got three times a new act's typical royalty rate, full artistic control of recordings and ownership of the recording master tapes.[39][40] The deal also let the band use non-Decca recording studios. Regent Sound Studios, a mono facility equipped with egg boxes on the ceiling for sound treatment, became their preferred location.[41][42] Oldham, who had no recording experience but made himself the band's producer, said Regent had a sound that "leaked, instrument-to-instrument, the right way" creating a "wall of noise" that worked well for the band.[40][43] Because of Regent's low booking rates, the band could record for extended periods rather than the usual three-hour blocks then common at other studios. All tracks on the first Rolling Stones album were recorded there.[44][45]

Oldham contrasted the Rolling Stones' independence with the Beatles' obligation to record in EMI's studios, saying it made them appear as "mere mortals ... sweating in the studio for the man".[46] He promoted the Rolling Stones as the nasty counterpoints to the Beatles by having the band pose unsmiling on the cover of their first album. He also encouraged the press to use provocative headlines such as "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?",[47][48] although Wyman says "Our reputation and image as the Bad Boys came later, completely there, accidentally. ... [Oldham] never did engineer it. He simply exploited it exhaustively".[49] In a 1972 interview, Wyman stated "We were the first pop group to break away from the whole Cliff Richard thing where the bands did little dance steps, wore identical uniforms and had snappy patter."[50]

A cover version of Chuck Berry's "Come On" was the Rolling Stones' first single, released on 7 June 1963. The band refused to play it at live gigs,[51] and Decca bought only one ad to promote the record. With Oldham's direction, fan-club members bought copies at record shops polled by the charts,[52] helping "Come On" rise to No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart.[53] Having a charting single gave the band entree to play outside London, starting with a booking at the Outlook Club in Middlesbrough on 13 July, sharing the billing with the Hollies.[54][b] Later in 1963 Oldham and Easton arranged the band's first big UK concert tour as a supporting act for American stars including Bo Diddley, Little Richard and the Everly Brothers. The tour gave the band the opportunity to hone their stagecraft.[40][56][57] During the tour the band recorded their second single, a Lennon-McCartney-penned number entitled "I Wanna Be Your Man";[58] it reached No. 12 in the UK charts. "I Wanna Be Your Man" was written and given to the Stones when John Lennon and Paul McCartney visited them in the studio as the two Beatles liked to give the copyrights to songs away to their friends.[59] A Beatles version of the song was also recorded and released on the 1963 album With the Beatles.[60] The third single by the Stones, Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", itself based on Bo Diddley's style, was released in February 1964 and reached No. 3.[61]

Oldham saw little future for an act that lost significant songwriting royalties by playing songs of what he described as "middle-aged blacks", limiting the appeal to teenage audiences. Jagger and Richards decided to write songs together, the first batch of which Oldham described as "soppy and imitative".[62] Because the band's songwriting developed slowly, songs on their first album The Rolling Stones (1964; issued in the US as England's Newest Hit Makers), were primarily covers, with only one Jagger/Richards original - "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)" - and two numbers credited to Nanker Phelge, the pen name for songs written by the entire group.[63] The Rolling Stones' first US tour in June 1964 was, according to Wyman, "a disaster. ... When we arrived, we didn't have a hit record [there] or anything going for us."[64] When the band appeared on the variety show The Hollywood Palace, that week's guest host Dean Martin mocked both their hair and their performance.[65] During the tour they recorded for two days at Chess Studios in Chicago, meeting many of their most important influences, including Muddy Waters.[66][67] These sessions included what would become the Rolling Stones' first No. 1 hit in the UK, their cover version of Bobby and Shirley Womack's "It's All Over Now".[68]

The Stones followed the Famous Flames - featuring James Brown - in the theatrical release of the 1964 film T.A.M.I. Show, which showcased American acts with British Invasion artists. According to Jagger, "We weren't actually following James Brown because there was considerable time between the filming of each section. Nevertheless, he was still very annoyed about it ..."[69] On 25 October the band also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Because of the pandemonium surrounding the Stones, Sullivan banned the band from his show,[70] though he booked them for subsequent appearances in the following years.[71] Their second LP, 12 X 5, which was only available in the US, was released during the tour.[72] During the early Stones releases, Richards was typically credited as 'Richard'.[73][74][75] The Rolling Stones' fifth UK single, a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" - with "Off the Hook", credited to Nanker Phelge, as the B-side - was released in November 1964 and became their second No. 1 hit in the UK.[61] The band's US distributors, London Records, declined to release "Little Red Rooster" as a single. In December 1964, the distributor released the band's first single with Jagger/Richards originals on both sides: "Heart of Stone", with "What a Shame" as the B-side; the single went to No. 19 in the US.[76]

1965-1967: Height of fame

The Rolling Stones performing at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro, Georgia, May 1965.

The band's second UK LP, The Rolling Stones No. 2, was released in January 1965 and reached No. 1 in the charts. The US version was released in February as The Rolling Stones, Now! and reached No. 5. The album was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles.[77] In January and February that year the band played 34 shows for around 100,000 people in Australia and New Zealand.[78] The single "The Last Time", released in February, was the first Jagger/Richards composition to reach No. 1 in the UK charts;[61] it reached No. 9 in the US. It was later identified by Richards as "the bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it."[79]

Their first international No. 1 hit was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", recorded in May 1965 during the band's third North American tour. Richards recorded the guitar riff that drives the song with a fuzzbox, planning to be a scratch track to guide a horn section. Nevertheless, the final cut was without the planned horn overdubs. Issued in the summer of 1965, it was their fourth UK No. 1 and first in the US where it spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, establishing worldwide commercial success for the band.[79][80] The US version of the LP Out of Our Heads, released in July 1965, also went to No 1; it included seven original songs, three Jagger/Richards numbers and four credited to Nanker Phelge.[81] Their second international No. 1 single, "Get Off of My Cloud" was released in the autumn of 1965,[71] followed by another US-only LP, December's Children.[82]

A black and white trade ad for the 1965 Rolling Stones' North American tour. The members of the band are sitting on a staircase with either their hands clasped or arms folded, looking at the camera. From left: The front row contains Brian Jones, Bill Wyman; the second row contains Charlie Watts and Keith Richards; the third (and final) row contains Mick Jagger.
A trade ad for the 1965 Rolling Stones' North American tour

The album Aftermath, released in the late spring of 1966, was the first LP to be composed entirely of Jagger/Richards songs;[83] it reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US.[84] On this album Jones' contributions expanded beyond guitar and harmonica. To the Middle Eastern-influenced "Paint It, Black"[c] he added sitar, to the ballad "Lady Jane" he added dulcimer and to "Under My Thumb" he added marimbas. Aftermath also contained "Goin' Home", a nearly 12-minute-long song that included elements of jamming and improvisation.[85]

The Stones' success on the British and American singles charts peaked during the 1960s.[86][87] "19th Nervous Breakdown"[88] was released in February 1966, and reached No. 2 in the UK[89] and US charts;[90] "Paint It, Black" reached No. 1 in the UK and US in May 1966.[61][87] "Mother's Little Helper", released in June 1966, reached No. 8 in the US;[90] it was one of the first pop songs to address the issue of prescription drug abuse.[91][92] "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?" was released in September 1966 and reached No. 5 in the UK[93] and No. 9 in the US.[90] It had a number of firsts for the group: it was the first Stones recording to feature brass horns, the back-cover photo on the original US picture sleeve depicted the group satirically dressed in drag and the song was accompanied by one of the first official music videos, directed by Peter Whitehead.[94][95]

January 1967 saw the release of Between the Buttons (UK No. 3; US 2); the album was Andrew Oldham's last venture as the Rolling Stones' producer; Oldham's role as the band's manager was taken over by Allen Klein in 1965 to "get [them] out of the original English scene"[96] and due to Oldham's fear of being arrested after the 12 February drug bust in Sussex.[97][98] The US version included the double A-side single "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Ruby Tuesday",[99] which went to No. 1 in the US and No. 3 in the UK. When the band went to New York to perform the numbers on The Ed Sullivan Show, they were ordered to change the lyrics of the refrain to "let's spend some time together".[100][101]

In early 1967, Jagger, Richards and Jones began to be hounded by authorities over their recreational drug use, after News of the World ran a three-part feature entitled "Pop Stars and Drugs: Facts That Will Shock You".[102] The series described alleged LSD parties hosted by the Moody Blues and attended by top stars including the Who's Pete Townshend and Cream's Ginger Baker, and alleged admissions of drug use by leading pop musicians. The first article targeted Donovan (who was raided and charged soon after); the second instalment (published on 5 February) targeted the Rolling Stones.[103] A reporter who contributed to the story spent an evening at the exclusive London club Blaise's, where a member of the Rolling Stones allegedly took several Benzedrine tablets, displayed a piece of hashish and invited his companions back to his flat for a "smoke". The article claimed that this was Mick Jagger, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity; the reporter had in fact been eavesdropping on Brian Jones. On the night the article was published Jagger appeared on the Eamonn Andrews chat show and announced that he was filing a writ for libel against the News of the World.[104][103]

A week later on 12 February, Sussex police, tipped off by the paper, who in turn were tipped off by Richards' chauffeur,[105] raided a party at Keith Richards' home, Redlands. No arrests were made at the time but Jagger, Richards and their friend art dealer Robert Fraser were subsequently charged with drug offences. Richards said in 2003, "When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realize that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped. Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted."[106] On the treatment of the man responsible for the raid he later added: "As I heard it, he never walked the same again."[105]

In March 1967, while awaiting the consequences of the police raid, Jagger, Richards and Jones took a short trip to Morocco, accompanied by Marianne Faithfull, Jones' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg and other friends. During this trip the stormy relations between Jones and Pallenberg deteriorated to the point that Pallenberg left Morocco with Richards.[107] Richards said later: "That was the final nail in the coffin with me and Brian. He'd never forgive me for that and I don't blame him, but hell, shit happens."[108] Richards and Pallenberg would remain a couple for twelve years. Despite these complications, the Rolling Stones toured Europe in March and April 1967. The tour included the band's first performances in Poland, Greece, and Italy.[109]

On 10 May 1967, the day Jagger, Richards and Fraser were arraigned in connection with the Redlands charges, Jones' house was raided by police and he was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis.[100] Three out of five Stones now faced drug charges, and Jagger and Richards were tried at the end of June. Jagger received a three-month prison sentence for the possession of four amphetamine tablets; Richards was found guilty of allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property and sentenced to a year in prison.[110][111] Both Jagger and Richards were imprisoned at that point, but were released on bail the next day pending appeal.[112]The Times ran the famous editorial entitled "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?" in which conservative editor William Rees-Mogg surprised his readers by his unusually critical discourse on the sentencing, pointing out that Jagger had been treated far more harshly for a minor first offence than "any purely anonymous young man".[113] While awaiting the appeal hearings, the band recorded a new single, "We Love You", as a thank-you for the loyalty shown by their fans. It began with the sound of prison doors closing, and the accompanying music video included allusions to the trial of Oscar Wilde.[114][115][116] On 31 July, the appeals court overturned Richards' conviction, and Jagger's sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.[117] Jones' trial took place in November 1967; in December, after appealing the original prison sentence, Jones received a 1,000 fine and was put on three years' probation, with an order to seek professional help.[118]

The band released Their Satanic Majesties Request (UK No. 3; US No. 2) in December 1967, but the album drew unfavourable reviews and was widely regarded as a poor imitation of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[119][120]Satanic Majesties was recorded while Jagger, Richards and Jones were awaiting with their court cases and the band parted ways with Oldham during the sessions. The split was publicly amicable,[121] but in 2003 Jagger said: "The reason Andrew left was because he thought that we weren't concentrating and that we were being childish. It was not a great moment really - and I would have thought it wasn't a great moment for Andrew either. There were a lot of distractions and you always need someone to focus you at that point, that was Andrew's job."[100]Satanic Majesties thus became the first album the Rolling Stones produced on their own. Its psychedelic sound was complemented by the cover art, which featured a 3D photo by Michael Cooper, who had also photographed the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Bill Wyman wrote and sang a track on the album: "In Another Land", also released as a single, and the first on which Jagger did not sing lead.[122]

1968-1972: "Back to basics"

The band spent the first few months of 1968 working on material for their next album. Those sessions resulted in the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash", released as a single in May. The subsequent album, Beggars Banquet (UK No. 3; US 5), an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes, marked the band's return to their roots, and the beginning of their collaboration with producer Jimmy Miller. It featured the lead single "Street Fighting Man" (which addressed the political upheavals of May 1968) and "Sympathy for the Devil".[123][124]

Beggars Banquet was delayed for nearly six months due to controversy over the design of the album cover, which featured a public toilet with graffiti covering the walls of the stall.[125] The album was well received at the time of release. Richards said, "There is a change between material on Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet. I'd grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit and the beads and bells. Who knows where these things come from, but I guess [the music] was a reaction to what we'd done in our time off and also that severe dose of reality. A spell in prison ... will certainly give you room for thought ... I was fucking pissed with being busted. So it was, 'Right we'll go and strip this thing down.' There's a lot of anger in the music from that period."[126]

The end of 1968 saw the filming of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which originally started as an idea about "the new shape of the rock-and-roll concert tour".[18] It featured John Lennon, Yoko Ono, the Dirty Mac, the Who, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull, and Taj Mahal. The footage was shelved for twenty-eight years but was finally released officially in 1996,[127] with a DVD version released in October 2004.[128]

By the release of Beggars Banquet, Brian Jones was only sporadically contributing to the band. Jagger said that Jones was "not psychologically suited to this way of life".[129] His drug use had become a hindrance, and he was unable to obtain a US visa. Richards reported that, in a June meeting with Jagger, Richards, and Watts at Jones' house, Jones admitted that he was unable to "go on the road again", and left the band, saying, "I've left, and if I want to I can come back".[10] On 3 July 1969, less than a month later, Jones drowned in the swimming pool under mysterious circumstances at his home, Cotchford Farm, in Hartfield, East Sussex.[130]

The Rolling Stones were scheduled to play at a free concert for Blackhill Enterprises in London's Hyde Park, two days after Jones' death; they decided to proceed with the show as a tribute to him. The concert, their first with new guitarist Mick Taylor, was performed in front of an estimated 250,000 fans.[100] The performance was filmed by a Granada Television production team, and was shown on British television as The Stones in the Park.[2] The Blackhill Enterprises stage manager Sam Cutler introduced the Rolling Stones on to the stage by announcing: "Let's welcome the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World."[1][131]

Cutler repeated the description throughout their 1969 US tour.[132][133] Jagger read an excerpt from Shelley's poem Adonas, an elegy written on the death of his friend John Keats, and they released thousands of butterflies in memory of Jones[100] before opening their set with "I'm Yours and I'm Hers", a Johnny Winter number.[131] Also performed, but previously unheard by the audience, were "Midnight Rambler" and "Love in Vain" from their forthcoming album Let It Bleed (released December 1969) and "Give Me A Drink" which eventually appeared on Exile on Main St. (released May 1972). The show also included the concert debut of "Honky Tonk Women", which the band had just released the previous day.[134][135][136]

Their last album of the sixties, Let It Bleed (UK No. 1; US 3)[74] featured "Gimme Shelter" with guest lead female vocals from Merry Clayton (sister of Sam Clayton, of the American rock band Little Feat).[137] Other tracks include "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (with accompaniment by the London Bach Choir, who initially asked for their name to be removed from the album's credits after being apparently 'horrified' by the content of some of its other material, but later withdrew this request), "Midnight Rambler" as well as a cover of Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain". Jones and Taylor are both featured on the album.[138]

Just after the US tour, the band performed at the Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway, about 50 miles east of San Francisco. The biker gang Hells Angels provided security, and a fan, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels after they realised that he was armed.[139] Part of the tour and the Altamont concert were documented in Albert and David Maysles' film Gimme Shelter. As a response to the growing popularity of bootleg recordings (in particular Live'r Than You'll Ever Be, recorded during the 1969 tour), the album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! (UK 1; US 6) was released in 1970; it was declared by critic Lester Bangs to be the best ever live album.[140]

At the end of the decade the band appeared on the BBC's review of the sixties music scene Pop Go the Sixties, performing "Gimme Shelter", which was broadcast live on 31 December 1969. That following year, the band wanted out of contracts with both Klein and Decca, but still owed them a Jagger/Richards credited single. To get back at the label, and fulfil their final contractual obligation, the band came up with the track "Schoolboy Blues" - deliberately making it as crude as they could in hopes of forcing Decca to keep it "in the vaults".[141] Amid contractual disputes with Klein, they formed their own record company, Rolling Stones Records. Sticky Fingers (UK No. 1; US No. 1), released in March 1971, the band's first album on their own label, featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol.[142] The cover of the album was an Andy Warhol photograph of a man in tight jeans (from the waist down) featuring a functioning zipper. When unzipped, it revealed the subject's underwear, imprinted with a saying - "This Is Not Etc."[142] In some markets, an alternate cover was released due to the zippered cover's offensive nature at the time.[142][143] The Stones' Decca catalogue is currently owned by Klein's ABKCO label.[144][145][146]

In 1968, the Stones, following a suggestion by pianist Ian Stewart, put a control room in a van and created a mobile recording studio so that they would not be limited to the standard 9-5 hours most recording studios operated by.[147] The band lent the mobile studio out to other artists,[147][148] including Led Zeppelin, who used it to record Led Zeppelin III (1970)[149] and Led Zeppelin IV (1971).[147][149]Deep Purple immortalised the mobile studio itself, in the song "Smoke on the Water" with the line "the Rolling truck Stones thing just outside, making our music there".[150]

The Rolling Stones' logo, designed by John Pasche and modified by Craig Braun,[151] was introduced in 1971

Sticky Fingers was the first to feature the logo of Rolling Stones Records, which effectively became the band's logo. It consisted of a pair of lips with a lapping tongue. Designer John Pasche created the logo following a suggestion by Jagger to copy the outstuck tongue of the Hindu goddess Kali.[151] Critic Sean Egan has said of the logo, "Without using the Stones' name, it instantly conjures them, or at least Jagger, as well as a certain lasciviousness that is the Stones' own ... It quickly and deservedly became the most famous logo in the history of popular music."[152][page needed] The tongue and lips design was part of a package that, in 2003, VH1 named the "No. 1 Greatest Album Cover" of all time.[142] The album contains one of their best known hits, "Brown Sugar", and the country-influenced "Dead Flowers". Both were recorded at Alabama's Muscle Shoals Sound Studio during the 1969 American tour. The album continued the band's immersion into heavily blues-influenced compositions. The album is noted for its "loose, ramshackle ambience"[153] and marked Mick Taylor's first full release with the band.[154][155]

Following the release of Sticky Fingers, the Rolling Stones left England after receiving financial advice from their financial manager at the time, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, recommending that they go into tax exile before the start of the next financial year. They had learned that despite promises made that taxes were taken care of, they had not been paid for seven years and that they owed the UK government a relative fortune that could have meant the end of the band.[156] They moved to the South of France, where Richards rented the Villa Nellcte and sublet rooms to band members and entourage. Using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they held recording sessions in the basement; they completed the resulting tracks, along with material dating as far back as 1969, at Sunset Studios in Los Angeles. The resulting double album, Exile on Main St. (UK No. 1; US No. 1), was released in May 1972. Given an A grade by critic Robert Christgau[157] and disparaged by Lester Bangs - who reversed his opinion within months - Exile is now accepted as one of the Stones' best albums.[158] The films Cocksucker Blues (never officially released) and Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (released in 1974) document the subsequent highly publicised 1972 North American Tour.[159]

The band's double compilation, Hot Rocks 1964-1971, was released in 1972; it reached number 3 in the UK charts[160] and No. 4 in the US.[161] It is certified Diamond in the US having sold over 12 million copies, and has spent over 264 weeks on the Billboard album chart.[162] In 1974 Wyman released his first solo album, Monkey Grip, making him the first Rolling Stone to release solo material.[163] As of 2017 Wyman has published five solo albums, with the most recent, Back to Basics, released in 2015.[163][164]

1972-1977: Critical fluctuations and Ronnie Wood

Members of the band set up a complex financial structure in 1972 to reduce payment of taxes.[165][166] Their holding company, Promogroup, has offices in both The Netherlands and the Caribbean.[165][166] The Netherlands was chosen because it does not directly tax royalty payments. The band has been tax exiles ever since, meaning they no longer can use Britain as their main residence. Due to the arrangements with the holding company, the band has reportedly paid a tax of just 1.6% on their total earnings of 242 million over the past 20 years.[165][166]

In November 1972 the band began recording sessions in Kingston, Jamaica for the album Goats Head Soup; it was released in 1973 and reached No. 1 in both the UK and US. The album, which contained the worldwide hit "Angie", proved to be the first in a string of commercially successful but tepidly received studio albums.[167] The sessions for Goats Head Soup contained unused material, most notably an early version of the popular ballad "Waiting on a Friend", which was not released until the LP Tattoo You eight years later.[168]

Bill Wyman, 1975

The making of Goats Head Soup was interrupted by another legal battle over drugs, dating back to their stay in France; a warrant for Richards' arrest had been issued, and the other band members had to return briefly to France for questioning.[169] This, along with Jagger's 1967 and 1970 convictions on drug charges, complicated the band's plans for their Pacific tour in early 1973: they were denied permission to play in Japan and almost banned from Australia. This was followed by a European tour in September and October 1973 which bypassed France, prior to which Richards had been again arrested drug charges, this time in England.[170]

The 1974 album It's Only Rock 'n Roll was recorded in the Musicland studios in Munich, Germany; it reached No. 2 in the UK and No. 1 in the US.[171] Miller was not invited to return as album producer,[171] and Jagger and Richards produced the album under the credit of "the Glimmer Twins".[172] Both the album and the single of the same name were hits.[173][174][175]

Near the end of 1974, Taylor began to lose patience after years of feeling like a "junior citizen in the band of jaded veterans".[176][177] The band's situation made normal functioning complicated, with members living in different countries, and legal barriers restricting where they could tour. In addition, drug use was starting to affect Richards' productivity, and Taylor felt some of his own creative contributions were going unrecognised.[178] At the end of 1974, with a recording session already booked in Munich to record another album, Taylor quit the Rolling Stones.[179] Taylor said in 1980, "I was getting a bit fed up. I wanted to broaden my scope as a guitarist and do something else ... I wasn't really composing songs or writing at that time. I was just beginning to write, and that influenced my decision ... There are some people who can just ride along from crest to crest; they can ride along somebody else's success. And there are some people for whom that's not enough. It really wasn't enough for me."[180]

Ronnie Wood (left) and Jagger (right) in Chicago, 1975

The Rolling Stones needed a new guitarist, and the recording sessions for the next album, Black and Blue (UK 2; US 1) (1976) in Munich provided an opportunity for some hopeful to join the band to work while trying out. Guitarists as stylistically disparate as Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck were auditioned as well as Robert A. Johnson and Shuggie Otis. Both Beck and Irish blues rock guitarist Rory Gallagher later claimed that they had played without realising they were being auditioned. American session players Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel also tried out but Richards and Jagger had a preference for the band to remain purely British. When Ronnie Wood auditioned, everyone agreed that he was the right choice.[181] He had already recorded and played live with Richards, and had contributed to the recording and writing of the track "It's Only Rock 'n Roll". He had earlier declined Jagger's offer to join the Stones, because of his commitment to the Faces, saying "that's what's really important to me".[182] Faces' lead singer Rod Stewart went so far as to say he would take bets that Wood would not join the Stones.[182]

Wood officially joined the Rolling Stones in 1975 for their upcoming Tour of the Americas, which was a contributing factor in the disbandment of the Faces. Unlike the other band members, however, Wood was paid an employee's salary, and that remained the case until the early 1990s, when he finally joined the Stones' business partnership.[183]

Jagger in 1976

The 1975 Tour of the Americas kicked off in New York City with the band performing on a flatbed trailer being pulled down Broadway. The tour featured stage props including a giant phallus and a rope on which Jagger swung out over the audience. Jagger had booked live recording sessions at the El Mocambo club in Toronto to balance a long-overdue live album, 1977's Love You Live (UK 3; US 5), the first Stones live album since Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!.[184]

Richards' addiction to heroin delayed his arrival in Toronto; the other members had already arrived. On 24 February 1977, when Richards and his family flew in from London, they were temporarily detained by Canada Customs after Richards was found in possession of a burnt spoon and hash residue. Three days later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, armed with an arrest warrant for Pallenberg, discovered 22 grams of heroin in Richards' room.[185] He was charged with importing narcotics into Canada, an offence that carried a minimum seven-year sentence.[186]

El Mocambo where part of the live album Love You Live was recorded in 1977

Later the Crown prosecutor conceded that Richards had procured the drugs after arrival.[187] Despite the incident, the band played two shows in Toronto, only to raise more controversy when Margaret Trudeau, then-wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was seen partying with the band after one show. The band's two shows were not advertised to the public. Instead, the El Mocambo had been booked for the entire week by April Wine for a recording session. 1050 CHUM, a local radio station, ran a contest for free tickets to see April Wine. Contest winners who selected tickets for Friday or Saturday night were surprised to find the Rolling Stones playing.[188]

On 4 March, Richards' partner Anita Pallenberg pleaded guilty to drug possession and incurred a fine in connection with the original airport incident.[188] The drug case against Richards dragged on for over a year. Ultimately, Richards received a suspended sentence and was ordered to play two free concerts for the CNIB in Oshawa;[187] both shows featured the Rolling Stones and the New Barbarians, a group that Wood had put together to promote his latest solo album, and which Richards also joined. This episode strengthened Richards' resolve to stop using heroin.[100] It also ended his relationship with Pallenberg, which had become strained since the death of their third child, Tara. Pallenberg was unable to curb her heroin addiction while Richards struggled to get clean.[189] While Richards was settling his legal and personal problems, Jagger continued his jet-set lifestyle. He was a regular at New York's Studio 54 disco club, often in the company of model Jerry Hall. His marriage to Bianca Jagger ended in 1977, although they had long been estranged.[190]

Although the Rolling Stones remained popular through the early 1970s, music critics had begun to grow dismissive of the band's output, and record sales failed to meet expectations.[71] By the mid-1970s, after punk rock became influential, many people had begun to view the Rolling Stones as an outdated band.[191]

1978-1982: Commercial peak

The group's fortunes changed in 1978, after the band released Some Girls (UK No. 2; US No. 1), which included the hit single "Miss You", the country ballad "Far Away Eyes", "Beast of Burden", and "Shattered". In part as a response to punk, many songs, particularly "Respectable", were fast, basic, guitar-driven rock and roll,[192] and the album's success re-established the Rolling Stones' immense popularity among young people. Following the US Tour 1978, the band guested on the first show of the fourth season of the TV series Saturday Night Live. Following the success of Some Girls, the band released their next album Emotional Rescue (UK 1; US 1) in mid-1980.[193] During the recording sessions of the album, a rift between Jagger and Richards was slowly beginning to form. Richards wanted to tour in summer or autumn of 1980 to promote the new album. Much to his disappointment, Jagger declined.[193]Emotional Rescue hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and the title track reached No.3 in the US.[193]

The Rolling Stones on stage in December 1981. From left: Mick Jagger wearing a blue coloured jacket with yellow clothing and a black belt singing into a microphone, Keith Richards wearing black pants and a small purple vest (no shirt) playing a black guitar to the left - and slightly in front - of Jagger, Ronnie Wood wearing an orange jacket and black shirt/pants playing a beige guitar behind Jagger and Richards.
The Rolling Stones performing in December 1981

In early 1981, the group reconvened and decided to tour the US that year, leaving little time to write and record a new album, as well as rehearse for the tour. That year's resulting album, Tattoo You (UK 2; US 1), featured a number of outtakes, including lead single "Start Me Up", which reached No.2 in the US and ranked No.22 on Billboard's Hot 100 year-end chart. Two songs ("Waiting on a Friend" (US No. 13) and "Tops") featured Mick Taylor's unused rhythm guitar tracks, while jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins played on "Slave" and "Waiting on a Friend".[194]

The Rolling Stones reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 with "Hang Fire". Their American Tour 1981 was their biggest, longest and most colourful production to date. It was the highest-grossing tour of that year.[195] The tour included a concert at Chicago's Checkerboard Lounge with Muddy Waters, in what would be one of his last performances before his death in 1983.[196] Some shows were recorded, resulting in the 1982 live album Still Life (American Concert 1981) (UK 4; US 5), and the 1983 Hal Ashby concert film Let's Spend the Night Together, which was filmed at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona and the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands, New Jersey.[197]

In mid-1982, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, the Rolling Stones took their American stage show to Europe. The European Tour 1982 was their first European tour in six years, with a similar format to the American tour. The band were joined by former Allman Brothers Band keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who continues to perform and record with the Rolling Stones.[198] By the end of the year, the band had signed a new four-album recording deal with a new label, CBS Records, for a reported $50 million, then the biggest record deal in history.[199]

1983-1988: Band turmoil and solo projects

Before leaving Atlantic, the Rolling Stones released Undercover (UK 3; US 4) in late 1983. Despite good reviews and the Top Ten peak position of the title track, the record sold below expectations and there was no tour to support it. Subsequently, the Stones' new marketer/distributor CBS Records took over distributing the Stones' Atlantic catalogue.[199]

Richards and Wood during a Stones concert in Turin, Italy in 1982

By this time, the Jagger/Richards rift had grown significantly. To Richards' annoyance, Jagger signed a solo deal with CBS Records, and spent much of 1984 writing songs for his first album. He also declared his growing lack of interest in the Rolling Stones.[200] By 1985, Jagger was spending more time on solo recordings, and much of the material on 1986's Dirty Work was generated by Richards, with more contributions by Wood than on previous Rolling Stones albums. The album was recorded in Paris, and Jagger was often absent from the studio, leaving Richards to keep the recording sessions moving forward.[201]

In June 1985, Jagger teamed up with David Bowie for "Dancing in the Street", which was recorded as part of the Live Aid charity movement.[202] This was one of Jagger's first solo performances, and the song reached No. 1 in the UK, and No. 7 in the US.[203][204] In December 1985, Stewart died of a heart attack. The Rolling Stones played a private tribute concert for him at London's 100 Club in February 1986, two days before they were presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[205]

Dirty Work (UK No. 4; US No. 4) was released in March 1986 to mixed reviews. With relations between Richards and Jagger at a low, Jagger refused to tour to promote the album, and instead undertook a solo tour, which included Rolling Stones songs.[206][207] As a result of the animosity, they almost broke up.[206] Jagger's solo records, She's the Boss (UK 6; US 13) (1985) and Primitive Cool (UK 26; US 41) (1987), met with moderate commercial success, and in 1988, with the Rolling Stones mostly inactive, Richards released his first solo album, Talk Is Cheap (UK 37; US 24). It was well received by fans and critics, being certified gold in the US.[208] Richards has subsequently referred to this late-80s period, where the two were recording solo albums with no obvious reunion of the Stones in sight, as "World War III".[209][210] The following year 25x5: The Continuing Adventures of the Rolling Stones, a documentary spanning the career of the band was released for their 25th anniversary.[211]

1989-1999: Comeback, return to popularity, and record-breaking tours

In early 1989, the Stones, including Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood as well as Brian Jones and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[71] Jagger and Richards set aside animosities and went to work on a new Rolling Stones album, Steel Wheels (UK 2; US 3). Heralded as a return to form, it included the singles "Mixed Emotions" (US No. 5), "Rock and a Hard Place" (US No. 23) and "Almost Hear You Sigh". The album also included "Continental Drift", which the Rolling Stones recorded in Tangier, Morocco in 1989 with the Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar, coordinated by Tony King and Cherie Nutting. A BBC documentary film, The Rolling Stones in Morocco, was produced by Nigel Finch.[212]

The Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour was the band's first world tour in seven years and their biggest stage production to date. Opening acts included Living Colour and Guns N' Roses. Recordings from the tour include the 1991 concert album Flashpoint (UK 6; US 16) and the concert film Live at the Max released in 1991.[213] The tour was the last to feature Wyman, who left the band after years of deliberation, although his retirement was not made official until January 1993.[214] He then published Stone Alone, an autobiography based on scrapbooks and diaries he had been keeping since the band's early days. A few years later he formed Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and began recording and touring again.[215]

After the successes of the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours, the band took a break. Watts released two jazz albums; Wood recorded his fifth solo album, the first in 11 years, called Slide On This, Wyman released his fourth solo album, Richards released his second solo album in late 1992, Main Offender, and did a small tour including big concerts in Spain and Argentina.[216][217] Jagger got good reviews and sales with his third solo album, Wandering Spirit (UK 12; US 11). The album sold more than two million copies worldwide, being certified gold in the US.[208]

Multiple platinum award for their 1994 album Voodoo Lounge, on display at the Museo del Rock in Madrid

After Wyman's departure, the Rolling Stones' new distributor/record label, Virgin Records, remastered and repackaged the band's back catalogue from Sticky Fingers to Steel Wheels, except for the three live albums, and issued another hits compilation in 1993 entitled Jump Back. By 1993, the Rolling Stones were ready to start recording another studio album. Darryl Jones, former sideman of Miles Davis and Sting, was chosen by Charlie Watts as Wyman's replacement for 1994's Voodoo Lounge (UK 1; US 2). The album met strong reviews and sales, going double platinum in the US. Reviewers took note of the album's "traditionalist" sounds, which were credited to the Rolling Stones' new producer Don Was.[218]Voodoo Lounge would win the Stones the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 1995 Grammy Awards.[219]

Richards in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the Voodoo Lounge Tour, 1995

1994 also brought the accompanying Voodoo Lounge Tour, which lasted into the following year. The tour grossed $320 million, becoming the world's highest-grossing tour at the time.[220] Numbers from various concerts and rehearsals (mostly acoustic) made up Stripped (UK 9; US 9), which featured a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", as well as infrequently played songs like "Shine a Light", "Sweet Virginia" and "The Spider and the Fly".[221] On 8 September 1994, the Stones performed their new song "Love Is Strong" as well as "Start Me Up" at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York.[222] The band received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony.[222]

The Rolling Stones were the first major recording artists to broadcast a concert over the Internet; a 20-minute video was broadcast on 18 November 1994 using the Mbone at 10 frames per second. The broadcast, engineered by Thinking Pictures and financed by Sun Microsystems, was one of the first demonstrations of streaming video; while it was not a true webcast, it introduced many to the technology.[223]

The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon (UK 6; US 3), released in 1997 to mixed reviews.[224][225][226][227] The video of the single "Anybody Seen My Baby?" featured Angelina Jolie as guest[228] and met steady rotation on both MTV and VH1.[229] Sales were reasonably equivalent to those of previous records (about 1.2 million copies sold in the US), and the subsequent Bridges to Babylon Tour, which crossed Europe, North America and other destinations, proved the band to be a strong live attraction. Once again, a live album was culled from the tour, No Security (UK 67; US 34), only this time all but two songs ("Live With Me" and "The Last Time") were previously unreleased on live albums. In 1999, the Rolling Stones staged the No Security Tour in the US and continued the Bridges to Babylon tour in Europe.[230]

2000-2011: A Bigger Bang and continued success

In late 2001, Mick Jagger released his fourth solo album, Goddess in the Doorway (UK 44; US 39) which met with mixed reviews.[231] A month after the September 11 attacks, Jagger and Richards took part in "The Concert for New York City", performing "Salt of the Earth" and "Miss You" with a backing band.[232] In 2002, the band released Forty Licks (UK 2; US 2), a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band. The collection contained four new songs recorded with the latter-day core band of Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, Leavell and Jones. The album has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. The same year, Q magazine named the Rolling Stones as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die",[233] and the 2002-2003 Licks Tour gave people that chance. The tour included shows in small theatres. The band headlined the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert in Toronto, Canada, to help the city - which they have used for rehearsals since the Steel Wheels tour - recover from the 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert was attended by an estimated 490,000 people.[234]

On 9 November 2003, the band played their first concert in Hong Kong as part of the Harbour Fest celebration, also in support of the SARS-affected economy. The same month, the band exclusively licensed the right to sell their new four-DVD boxed set, Four Flicks, recorded on the band's most recent world tour, to the US Best Buy chain of stores. In response, some Canadian and US music retail chains (including HMV Canada and Circuit City) pulled Rolling Stones CDs and related merchandise from their shelves and replaced them with signs explaining the situation.[235] In 2004, a double live album of the Licks Tour, Live Licks (UK 38; US 50), was released and certified gold in the US.[208] In November 2004, the Rolling Stones were among the inaugural inductees into the UK Music Hall of Fame.[236]

The Rolling Stones at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, July 2006

On 26 July 2005 (Jagger's birthday), the band announced the name of their new album, A Bigger Bang (UK 2; US 3), their first album in almost eight years. It was released on 6 September to strong reviews, including a glowing write-up in Rolling Stone magazine.[237] The single "Streets of Love" reached the top 15 in the UK.[238] The album included the political "Sweet Neo Con", a criticism of American Neoconservatism from Jagger.[239] The song was reportedly almost dropped from the album because of objections from Richards. When asked if he was afraid of political backlash such as the Dixie Chicks had endured, Richards responded that the album came first, and that, "I don't want to be sidetracked by some little political 'storm in a teacup'."[240] The subsequent A Bigger Bang Tour began in August 2005, and visited North America, South America and East Asia. In February 2006, the group played the half-time show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan. By the end of 2005, the Bigger Bang tour set a record of $162 million in gross receipts, breaking the North American mark also set by the band in 1994. On 18 February 2006 the band played a free concert to over one million people at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro; one of the biggest rock concerts of all time.[241]

The Rolling Stones at Twickenham Stadium, London during A Bigger Bang Tour in August 2006

After performances in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand in March/April 2006, the Rolling Stones tour took a scheduled break before proceeding to Europe; during this break Keith Richards was hospitalised in New Zealand for cranial surgery after a fall from a tree on Fiji, where he had been on holiday. The incident led to a six-week delay in launching the European leg of the tour.[242][243] In June 2006 it was reported that Ronnie Wood was continuing his programme of rehabilitation for alcohol abuse,[244][245] but this did not affect the rearranged European tour schedule. Two out of the 21 shows scheduled for July-September 2006 were later cancelled due to Mick Jagger's throat problems.[246] The Rolling Stones returned to North America for concerts in September 2006, and returned to Europe on 5 June 2007. By November 2006, the Bigger Bang tour had been declared the highest-grossing tour of all time.[247]

The Rolling Stones performances at New York City's Beacon Theatre on 29 October and 1 November 2006 were filmed by Martin Scorsese for a documentary film, Shine a Light, which was released in 2008. The film also features guest appearances by Buddy Guy, Jack White, and Christina Aguilera.[248] An accompanying soundtrack, also titled Shine a Light (UK 2; US 11), was released in April 2008. The album's debut at No. 2 in the UK charts was the highest position for a Rolling Stones concert album since Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert in 1970. At the Beacon Theater show, music executive Ahmet Ertegun fell and ultimately died from his injury.[249]

On 24 March 2007, the band announced a tour of Europe called the "Bigger Bang 2007" tour. 12 June 2007 saw the release of the band's second four-disc DVD set: The Biggest Bang, a seven-hour document featuring their shows in Austin, Rio de Janeiro, Saitama, Shanghai and Buenos Aires, along with extras. On 10 June 2007, the band performed their first gig at a festival in 30 years, at the Isle of Wight Festival, to a crowd of 65,000, and were joined onstage by Amy Winehouse.[250] On 26 August 2007, they played their last concert of the Bigger Bang tour at the O2 Arena in London. At the conclusion of the tour, the band had grossed a record setting $558 million and were listed in the latest edition of Guinness World Records.[251]

Mick Jagger released a compilation of his solo work called The Very Best of Mick Jagger (UK 57; US 77), including three unreleased songs, on 2 October 2007. On 12 November 2007, ABKCO released Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones (UK 26), a double-CD remake of the 1975 compilation Rolled Gold.[252]

The Rolling Stones in 2008 (from left to right: Watts, Wood, Richards, Jagger) at the Berlin Film Festival's world premiere of Martin Scorsese's documentary film Shine a Light

In July 2008 the Rolling Stones announced that they were leaving EMI to sign with Vivendi's Universal Music, taking with them their catalogue stretching back to Sticky Fingers. New music released by the band while under this contract will be issued through Universal's Polydor label.[253]Mercury Records will hold the US rights to the pre-1994 material, while the post-1994 material will be handled by Interscope Records (once a subsidiary of Atlantic).[254]

During the autumn, Jagger and Richards worked with producer Don Was to add new vocals and guitar parts to ten unfinished songs from the Exile on Main St. sessions. Jagger and Taylor also recorded a session together in London where Taylor added lead guitar to what would be the expanded album's single, "Plundered My Soul".[255] On 17 April 2010, the band released a limited edition 7-inch vinyl single of the previously unreleased track "Plundered My Soul" as part of Record Store Day. The track, part of the group's 2010 re-issue of Exile on Main St., was combined with "All Down the Line" as its B-side.[256] The band appeared at Cannes Festival for the premiere of the documentary Stones in Exile (directed by Stephen Kijak[257]) about the recording of the album Exile on Main St..[257] On 23 May, the re-issue of Exile on Main St. reached No. 1 in the UK charts, almost 38 years to the week after it first occupied that position, with the band becoming the first act to see a classic work return to No. 1 decades after it was first released.[258] In the US, the album re-entered the charts at No. 2.[259]

In October 2010, the Stones released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones to the cinemas and later on to DVD. A digitally remastered version of the film was shown in select cinemas across the United States. Although originally released to cinemas in 1974, it had never been available for home release apart from bootleg recordings.[260] In October 2011, the Stones released The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas '78 to the cinemas and later on to DVD. A digitally remastered version of the film was shown in select cinemas across the US. This live performance was recorded during one show in Ft. Worth, Texas in support of their US Tour 1978 and their album Some Girls. The film was released in (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) on 15 November 2011.[261] On 21 November, the band reissued Some Girls as a 2 CD deluxe edition with a second CD of twelve previously unreleased tracks (except "So Young," which was a B-side to "Out of Tears") from the sessions with mostly newly recorded vocals from Jagger.[262]

2012-present: 50th anniversary and covers album

Stage set for the 50 & Counting tour at the Prudential Center, New Jersey on 13 December 2012

The Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th anniversary in the summer of 2012 by releasing the book The Rolling Stones: 50.[263] A new take on the band's lip-and-tongue logo, designed by Shepard Fairey, was also released and used during the celebrations.[264] Jagger's brother Chris performed a gig at The Rolling Stones Museum in Slovenia in conjunction with the celebrations.[265]

The documentary Crossfire Hurricane, directed by Brett Morgen, was released in October 2012. He conducted approximately fifty hours of interviews for the documentary, including extensive interviews with Wyman and Taylor.[266] This would be the first official career-spanning documentary since 1989's 25x5: The Continuing Adventures of the Rolling Stones, which was filmed for their 25th anniversary in 1988.[211] A new compilation album, GRRR!, was released on 12 November, available in four different formats and including two new tracks, "Doom and Gloom" and "One More Shot", which were recorded at Studio Guillaume Tell in Paris, France, within the last few weeks of August 2012.[267] The album debuted at No. 3 in the UK and No. 19 in the US and went to sell over 2 million copies worldwide.[238] The music video for "Doom and Gloom" featuring Noomi Rapace was released on 20 November.[268]

The Rolling Stones performing in Hyde Park, London on 13 July 2013

In November 2012, the Stones commenced their 50 & Counting... tour at London's O2 Arena, where they were joined by Jeff Beck.[269] At their second show in London the group was joined onstage by Eric Clapton and Florence Welch.[270] Their third anniversary concert took place on 8 December at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.[270] The last two dates were at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on 13 and 15 December, and the band were joined by Bruce Springsteen and blues rock band the Black Keys on the final night.[270][271] They also played two songs at 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief.[272]

The Stones played nineteen shows in the US in spring 2013, before returning to the UK. The band announced a return to Hyde Park, though it would not be free like the 1969 concert.[273] Jagger quipped, "I'll try and keep the poetry to a minimum," and remarked, in respect of the white dress that he wore for the 1969 concert, "I can still just about get into the zippers."[273] On 29 June, the band performed at the Glastonbury Festival 2013.[274]Hyde Park Live, a live album recorded at the two Hyde Park gigs on 6 and 13 July, was released exclusively as a digital download through iTunes later that month and peaked at No. 16 in the UK and No. 19 in the US.[275][276] A live DVD, Sweet Summer Sun: Live in Hyde Park, was released on 11 November.[277]

In February 2014, the band embarked on their 14 On Fire tour spanning Middle East, Asia, Australia and Europe, scheduled to last through to the summer.[278] On 17 March, Jagger's longtime partner L'Wren Scott died suddenly, resulting in the cancellation and rescheduling of the opening tour dates to October.[279] On 4 June, The Rolling Stones performed for the first time in Israel with Haaretz describing the concert as being "Historic with a capital H".[280] In a 2015 interview with Jagger, when asked if retirement crosses his mind he stated, "Nah, not in the moment. I'm thinking about what the next tour is. I'm not thinking about retirement. I'm planning the next set of tours, so the answer is really, 'No, not really.'"[281]

The Stones in Cuba in March 2016. A spokesman for the band called it "the first open air concert in Cuba by a British rock band"[282]

The Rolling Stones embarked on their Latin American tour in February 2016.[283][284] On 25 March, the band played a bonus show, a free open air concert in Havana, Cuba.[282] In June of that year, The Rolling Stones released, Totally Stripped, an expanded and reconceived edition of Stripped, available in multiple formats.[285] The Rolling Stones announced on 28 July that their concert on 25 March 2016 in Cuba had been commemorated in the film Havana Moon, which premiered on 23 September for one night only in more than a thousand theatres worldwide.[286][287] The Rolling Stones announced Ole; Ole; Ole;: A Trip Across Latin America on 7 September,[288] a documentary of their 2016 Latin America tour,[289] which was shown in theatres on 12 December for one night only.[290]Ole; Ole; Ole;: A Trip Across Latin America came out on DVD and Blu-ray 26 May 2017.[290][291]

The band released Blue & Lonesome on 2 December 2016. The album consisted of 12 blues covers of artists such as Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Little Walter.[292][293] Recording took place in British Grove Studios, London, in December 2015, and featured Eric Clapton on two tracks.[294] The album reached No. 1 in the UK, the second-highest opening sales week for an album that year.[295] It also debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.[296] In July 2017, it was reported that the Rolling Stones were getting ready to record their first album of original material in more than a decade.[297] In early October 2017, the Rolling Stones announced the forthcoming release on 1 December 2017 of On Air, a collection of 18 recordings (plus 14 bonus tracks on the Deluxe edition) the band performed on the BBC between October 1963 and September 1965. The compilation featured eight songs the band has never recorded or released commercially.[298]

In February 2018, the Rolling Stones announced their first UK tour since 2006, with performances scheduled for May and June.[299]

Musical development

A copy of "Micawber", Keith Richards' signature Telecaster model, in the Fender Guitar Factory Museum

The Rolling Stones have assimilated various musical genres into their own collective sound. Throughout the band's career, their musical contributions have been marked by a continual reference and reliance on musical styles including blues, psychedelia, R&B, country, folk, reggae, dance, and world music, exemplified by Jones' collaboration with the Master Musicians of Jajouka, as well as traditional English styles that use stringed instrumentation like harps. Brian Jones experimented with the use of non-traditional instruments such as the sitar and slide guitar in their early days.[300][301][302] The group started out covering early rock 'n' roll and blues songs, and have never stopped playing live or recording cover songs.[303]

Jagger and Richards shared an admiration of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters,[304]Howlin' Wolf,[304] and Little Walter, which influenced Brian Jones, of whom Richards says, "He was more into T-Bone Walker and jazz blues stuff. We'd turn him onto Chuck Berry and say, 'Look, it's all the same shit, man, and you can do it.'"[10] Charlie Watts, a traditional jazz drummer,[305][306] was also introduced to the blues through his association with the pair. "Keith and Brian turned me on to Jimmy Reed and people like that. I learned that Earl Phillips was playing on those records like a jazz drummer, playing swing, with a straight four."[307] Jagger, recalling when he first heard the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, and other major American R&B artists, said it "seemed the most real thing"[308] he had heard up to that point. Similarly, Keith Richards, describing the first time he listened to Muddy Waters, said it was the "most powerful music [he had] ever heard ... the most expressive."[308][309] He also stated, "when you think of some dopey, spotty seventeen year old from Dartford, who wants to be Muddy Waters - and there were a lot of us - in a way, very pathetic, but in another way, very ... heartwarming".[310]

Despite the Rolling Stones' predilection for blues and R&B numbers on their early live set lists, the first original compositions by the band reflected a more wide-ranging interest. The first Jagger/Richards single, "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)", has been described by critic Richie Unterberger as a "pop rock ballad ... When [Jagger and Richards] began to write songs, they were usually not derived from the blues, but were often surprisingly fey, slow, Mersey-type pop numbers".[311] "As Tears Go By", the ballad originally written for Marianne Faithfull, was one of the first songs written by Jagger and Richards and also one of many written by the duo for other artists. Jagger said of the song, "It's a relatively mature song considering the rest of the output at the time. And we didn't think of [recording] it, because the Rolling Stones were a butch blues group."[312] The Rolling Stones did later record a version which became a top five hit in the US.[313]

On the early experience, Richards said, "The amazing thing is that although Mick and I thought these songs were really puerile and kindergarten-time, every one that got put out made a decent showing in the charts. That gave us extraordinary confidence to carry on, because at the beginning songwriting was something we were going to do in order to say to Andrew [Loog Oldham], 'Well, at least we gave it a try ...'"[69] Jagger said, "We were very pop-orientated. We didn't sit around listening to Muddy Waters; we listened to everything. In some ways it's easy to write to order ... Keith and I got into the groove of writing those kind of tunes; they were done in ten minutes. I think we thought it was a bit of a laugh, and it turned out to be something of an apprenticeship for us."[69]

A white teardrop shaped guitar as used by Brian Jones, on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Sacramento, California
A Vox Teardrop guitar as used by Brian Jones, on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Sacramento, California

The writing of "The Last Time", the Rolling Stones' first major single, proved a turning point. Richards called it "a bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it."[79] The song was based on a traditional gospel song popularised by the Staple Singers, but the Rolling Stones' number features a distinctive guitar riff, played by Brian Jones.[314] Prior to the emergence of Jagger/Richards as the Stones' songwriters, the band members occasionally were given collective credit under the pseudonym Nanker Phelge. Some songs attributed to Nanker Phelge have been re-attributed to Jagger/Richards.[315]

Beginning with Jones and continuing with Wood, the Rolling Stones have developed what Richards refers to as the "ancient art of weaving" responsible for part of their sound - the interplay between two guitarists on stage.[316] Unlike most bands, the Stones follow Richards' lead rather than the drummer's (Watts).[317] Likewise, Watts is primarily a jazz player who was able to bring that genre's influences to the style of the band's drumming.[305][306] The following of Richards' lead has led to conflicts between Jagger and Richards and they have been known to annoy one another, but they have both agreed it makes a better record; Watts in particular has praised Jagger's production skills.[318] In the studio, the band have tended to use a fluid personnel for recordings and not use the same players for each song. Guest pianists were commonplace on recordings; several songs on Beggars Banquet are driven by Nicky Hopkins' piano playing. On Exile on Main St., Richards plays bass on three tracks while Taylor plays on four.[319]

Richards started using open tunings for rhythm parts (often in conjunction with a capo), most prominently an open-E or open-D tuning in 1968. Beginning in 1969, he often used 5-string open-G tuning (with the lower 6th string removed), as heard on the 1969 single "Honky Tonk Women", "Brown Sugar" (Sticky Fingers, 1971), "Tumbling Dice" (capo IV), "Happy" (capo IV) (Exile on Main St., 1972), and "Start Me Up" (Tattoo You, 1981).[320]

The feuds between Jagger and Richards had some origin in the 1970s when Richards was a heroin addict,[321][322] resulting in Jagger managing the band's affairs for numerous years.[323] When Richards got himself off heroin and became more present in the decision making, Jagger was not used to this and did not like his authority diminished, resulting in the period which Richards has referred to as "World War III".[324]

Musical collaboration between members of the band and supporting musicians was key, due to the fluid lineups typically experienced by the band in the studio,[325][326] as tracks tended to be recorded "by whatever members of the group happened to be around at the time of the sessions."[326] Over time, Jagger has developed into the template for rock frontmen and, with the help of the Stones, has, in the words of the Telegraph, "changed music" through his contributions to it as a pioneer of the modern music industry.[327]


Overhead shot of the Stones concert at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Montana, October 2006. The Stones have had the highest-grossing concert tour three times[4]

Since their formation in 1962, the Rolling Stones survived multiple feuds[328][329] and have gone on to release 30 studio albums, 23 live albums, 25 compilation albums and 120 singles.[330] According to, the Stones are ranked the fourth bestselling group of all time, with their top single being "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction",[331] regarded by many at the time as "the classic example of rock and roll".[304] The Stones contributed to the blues lexicon, creating their own "codewords" and slang, which they have used throughout their catalog of songs, including some of their more popular songs.[304] The band has been viewed as the musical "vanguard of a major transfusion" of various cultural attitudes, making them accessible to youth in both America and Britain.[304] Muddy Waters was quoted as stating that the Rolling Stones and other English bands enhanced the interest of American youth into blues musicians; after they came to the United States, sales of Waters' albums - and those of other blues musicians - increased with public interest,[332] thus helping to reconnect the country with its own music.[333]

The Rolling Stones have sold over 240 million albums worldwide[330] and have held over 48 tours of varying length, including three of the highest-grossing tours of all time: Bridges to Babylon,[4]Voodoo Lounge,[220] and A Bigger Bang.[334] In May 2013, Rolling Stone declared them the "most definitional band that rock & roll has produced,"[328] with the Telegraph stating that Mick Jagger was "the Rolling Stone who changed music".[335] The band has been the subject of numerous documentaries and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Pete Townshend in 1989.[336][337] The Rolling Stones have inspired and mentored new generations of musical artists both as a band[338] and individually.[339][340] They are also credited with changing the "whole business model of popular music."[335]

The band has received - and been nominated for - multiple awards during their 55 years as a band; including three Grammy awards (and 12 nominations),[341] the Juno award for International Entertainer of the Year in 1991,[342] U.K.'s Jazz FM Awards Album of the Year (2017) for their album Blue & Lonesome,[343] and NME awards such as best live band and the NME award for best music film, for their documentary Crossfire Hurricane.[344]


The Rolling Stones' first concert was on 12 July 1962 at the Marquee Club in London.[345] The most documented of all the band's concerts was the Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway in 1969. For this concert, the biker gang Hells Angels provided security, which resulted in a fan, Meredith Hunter, being stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels.[346] Part of the tour and the Altamont concert were documented in Albert and David Maysles' film Gimme Shelter. As a response to the growing popularity of bootleg recordings, the album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! (UK 1; US 6) was released in 1970; it was declared by critic Lester Bangs to be the best live album ever.[347]

From small clubs and hotels in London with little room for Jagger to move around[348][349] to selling out stadiums worldwide, Rolling Stones tours have significantly changed over the decades. Setups for the band started off simplistic compared to what they later became in the band's career. with pyrotechnics, giant screens, and elaborate stage designs. By the Rolling Stones American tour of 1969, the band began to fill large halls and arenas, such as The Forum in Inglewood, California.[350] They were also using more equipment, such as lighting rigs and better sound equipment compared to the clubs.[350] The 1969 tour is considered a "great watershed tour" by Mick Jagger due to the fact that they "started hanging the sound and therefore hanging the lights".[351] Attributing the birth of arena rock to the Stones 1969 US tour, The Guardian ranked the tour number 19 on their list of the 50 key events in rock music history.[352] Prior to the tour the loudest sound at big-capacity shows was often the crowd, so the Stones ensured they had lighting and sound systems that would allow them to be seen and heard in the biggest arenas, with The Guardian stating their "combination of front-of-house excellence and behind the scenes savvy took the business of touring to an entirely new level."[352] During the 1972 tour, the Stones developed a complex light show in which they hung up giant mirrors and bounced the light off them.[353][354]

During the 1975 Tour of the Americas, arena shows became an industry for the band and the Stones hired a new lighting director, Jules Fisher.[355] The props used on stage by the band increased in both size and sophistication, similar to things done on Broadway.[351] The band started to use multiple stages, from which they would select for a particular show. On this tour they had two versions of what Jagger referred to as the "lotus stage" - one version of the stage that had a large Venetian (cylindrical) curtain and the other with leaves that began in the folded up position and lower during the beginning of the concert.[351] This period also included a variety of props, including inflatables and other gimmicks ranging from inflatable penises "and things."[351] The tour also incorporated a number of circus tricks.[351]

... at the beginning of the show the stage was completely covered with a kind of sheath gauze. I had to get inside the lotus, climb up a ladder and hang on like grim death to one of the petals, which then opened to reveal the band playing.

-- Mick Jagger, speaking of stage design in According to The Rolling Stones[351]
Runway (pictured in 2012) first appeared in Stones' concerts in 1981

During the 1981-1982 American tour, the Stones worked with Japanese designer Kazuhide Yamazari in constructing their stages for stadium sized locations and audiences.[356] During this period, stages increased in size to include runways, movable sections of stage going out into the audience, and growing in all other aspects.[349][356] This tour used coloured panels and was one of the last Stones tours to do so before switching to devices such as video screens.[349] Stadium shows provided a new challenge for the band, the venues were large enough in size that the band became "like ants" to audience members.[349] This resulted in Jagger having to project himself "over the footlights" and the band needing to employ more gimmicks, such as pyrotechnics, lights, and video screens.[349]

When you're out there in this vast stadium, you have to physically tiny up on stage, so that's why on the 1981-2 tour we had those coloured panels and later we started using devices like video screens. We became very aware of not being seen, of just being there like ants. Mick is the one who really has to project himself over the footlights. And when the show gets that big, you need a little extra help, you need a couple of gimmicks, as we call it, in the show. You need fireworks, you need lights, you need a bit of theatre.

-- Charlie Watts, According to the Rolling Stones[349]

As time went on, their props and stage equipment became increasingly sophisticated. When they started to fill stadium sized venues and bigger, they ran into the problem of the audience no longer being able to see them due to the increased seating capacity - this problem was especially clear when they performed a free concert for an estimated 1.5 million people[357] in 2006 in Rio de Janeiro on the A Bigger Bang tour,[358] which used over 500 lights, hundreds of speakers, and a video screen almost 13 metres in length.[359][360][361] Due to the vast size of the beach which the Stones performed on (2.5 km),[361] sound systems had to be set up in a relay pattern down the length of the beach, in order to keep the sound in sync with music from the stage;[361] for every 340 metres of beach, the sound had to be delayed an additional second.[360][361]

Band members

Current members



Studio albums

See also


  1. ^ Mick Avory himself has categorically denied "on many occasions"[19] that he played with the Rollin' Stones that night. In fact he only rehearsed twice with them in the Bricklayers Arms pub, before they became known as the Rollin' Stones.[20]
  2. ^ Wyman's book Rolling With The Stones incorrectly states the band played the Alcove club that night.[55]
  3. ^ The comma in the title of the song was later dropped.



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Further reading

  • Booth, Stanley (1984). Dance with the Devil: The Rolling Stones & Their Times. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-53488-3. 
  • Booth, Stanley (1995). Keith: Standing in the Shadows. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-11841-4. 
  • Carr, Roy (1976). The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record. Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-52641-7. 
  • Cutler, Tom (2010). A Gentleman's Bedside Book: Entertainment for the Last Fifteen Minutes of the Day. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-849-01803-6. 
  • Egan, Sean (2006). The Rough Guide to the Rolling Stones. London: Penguin. ISBN 1-84353-719-2. 
  • Flippo, Chet (1985). On the Road With the Rolling Stones. Doubleday/Dolphin. ISBN 0-385-19374-2. 
  • Forget, Thomas (2003). The Rolling Stones. New York: Rosen Central. ISBN 0-8239-3644-9. 
  • Greenfield, Robert (2002) [1974]. S.T.P.: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81199-5. 
  • Hector, James (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of the Rolling Stones. London: Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-4303-6. 
  • Hotchner, A. E. (1990). Blown Away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-69316-6. 
  • Jackson, Laura (1993). Golden Stone: The Untold Life and Tragic Death of Brian Jones. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-09820-0. 
  • Janovitz, Bill (2013). Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1-250-02631-8. 
  • McMillian, John (2013). Beatles vs. Stones. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4391-5969-6. 
  • Miller, Jim (1980). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-73728-6. 
  • Phelge, James (2000). Nankering with the Stones. ISBN 1-55652-373-4. 
  • Sanchez, Tony (1996). Up and Down with The Rolling Stones. New York: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-80711-4. 
  • Spitz, Marc (2011). Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue. Gotham Books. ISBN 978-1-59240-655-5. 

External links

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