The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger – circa 1976
“Please allow me to introduce myself / I’m a man of wealth and taste” – ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)
The British police have their prize. It is 29 June 1967 and two members of the notorious English rock band, The Rolling Stones, are in prison. Vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards languish behind bars. Earlier, on 5 February 1967 U.K. newspaper ‘The News of the World’ publishes an article headlined ‘Pop Stars and Drugs – Facts that Will Shock.’ Mick Jagger sues the publication for libel, claiming that it misrepresents him in the article. Perhaps stung by this development, ‘The News of the World’ tips off police and, acting on that information, a raid is staged at ‘Redlands’, Keith Richards’ country home in West Wittering, Sussex, England, on 12 February 1967. They discover eight men (including Jagger and Richards) and one woman – Marianne Faithfull, Jagger’s girlfriend – and ‘various substances of a suspicious nature’ including a quantity of Benzedrine tablets. Legend has it that the cops ‘interrupt an orgy of cunnilingus in which Jagger had been licking a chocolate Mars bar pushed into Marianne’s vagina’, but this has been discredited as false. What doesn’t seem to be in dispute is that Faithfull ‘wore only a large, orange fur bedcover’ and was otherwise naked. On 10 April 1967 Mick Jagger is charged with possession of the pep pills (they actually belonged to Faithfull) and Keith Richards is charged with permitting cannabis to be smoked on the premises. At the trial on 29 June 1967 Richards declares, “We are not old men. We are not worried about petty morals.” For the last few years, the rebellious Rolling Stones have been waging a war against the authorities and conformity, but it seems to have come to an inglorious conclusion. Richards is sentenced to a year in jail and fined five hundred pounds; Jagger is sentenced to three months in jail and fined three hundred pounds. The cell doors slam. Could this be the end?
Michael Philip Jagger is born 26 July 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England. His father, Basil Fanshawe Jagger (better known as Joe Jagger), is a school teacher and physical education instructor. Mick’s mother is Eva Ensley Mary Jagger (nee Scutts). Born in Australia, Eva Jagger becomes an active member of the British Conservative Party. The Jaggers have a younger son, Chris (born 1949). The boys are raised in ‘a middle class family.’ Mick will later claim, “I am conservative with a small ‘c’.”
Mick Jagger meets Keith Richards at the age of 6 at Maypole County Primary School, but circumstances conspire to separate the boys and they lose touch with each other.
At Dartford Grammar School, Mick Jagger becomes President of the School Photographic Society – largely because the dark room provides an ideal opportunity to become intimate with some of the female students.
Keith Richards is born 18 December 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England. His father, Bert Richards, is a factory worker who had been injured during World War Two. Keith’s mother, Doris Richards (nee Dupress) introduces her son to jazz and encourages him to sing. After meeting Mick Jagger at primary school, Keith loses touch with him when ‘the beleaguered Richards family moves to a housing project at the other end of town.’ He ‘grows up fairly poor’, but ‘revolts against his parents’ genteel middle-class pretensions.’ His mother buys Keith his first guitar at a cost of seven pounds. Keith is expelled from Dartford Technical College on his last day for leaving thirty minutes early. (Note: From 1963 to 1981 Keith Richards is known as Keith Richard, possibly in imitation of British pop star Cliff Richard. After that date, he returns to his birth name of Richards. For the sake of consistency, here he is always referred to as Keith Richards.)
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meet again by chance one day in 1960 on the Dartford Train Line. Independently, the two boys developed ‘an advanced interest in American rhythm and blues’ music.
Mick Jagger attends the London School of Economics while Keith Richards is a student at Sidcup Art School. They have a mutual friend, Dick Taylor, who went to Dartford Grammar School with Jagger and now attends Sidcup Art School with Richards. Jagger and Taylor, as – respectively – vocalist and guitarist, form a group called Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys with two other friends, Bob Beckwirth and Allen Etherington. Keith Richards joins as second guitarist, bringing the band up to a five-piece.
From January 1961 to June 1962 Mick Jagger is romantically involved with the actress Cleo Sylvestre.
These youngsters are not the only British fans of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. In the early 1960s a number of venues are beginning to host such acts. This is still largely an underground scene, divorced from the more commercial British pop acts. Three men act as virtual ‘godfathers’ of these acts: pianist/guitarist Alexis Korner, harmonica player Cyril Davies and pianist/guitarist John Mayall. Between them, the trio fosters the careers of many of Britain’s pop stars and rock musicians of the 1960s. Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys come into the orbit of these musicians.
In March 1962 Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies are both involved in a loose-knit aggregation called Blues Incorporated. Their drummer is Charlie Watts. Another musician who becomes involved with Blues Incorporated is a guitar player named Brian Jones.
Brian Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969) is born Lewis Brian Hopkin-Jones in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Brian is the son of Lewis Jones, an aeronautical engineer, and Louise Jones. He comes from a musical family. Brian has two sisters, Pamela and Barbara, but Pamela dies when Brian is still a child. Brian attends ‘a posh school’, but absents himself without permission to play jazz clarinet and saxophone. Brian fathers his first child while still a teenager. In fact, Brian Jones fathers two children, a son (born 1959) and a daughter (born 1960). Neither the names of the children or their mothers have ever been publicly revealed. The son is given up for adoption. The wayward young Mr Jones heads off to Scandinavia for a while, improving his guitar playing while in Europe. Returning to Cheltenham, Brian Jones begins a relationship with Pat Andrews in 1961 that will last until 1963. Along the way, they have a son, Julian Mark (born 22 October 1961). Brian plays guitar with a local band, The Ramrods, then heads off to London with Pat and Julian in tow. He occasionally plays with Blues Incorporated, having met Alexis Korner when Blues Incorporated played a show in Cheltenham. “I had a few jobs and I was trying to get a band going but it was unsuccessful until I met up with Mick [Jagger] and Keith [Richards] and that was a successful band,” Brian recalls. “[Our first engagement was at the] Marquee [Club], on Oxford Street, London. [We were paid] twenty quid.”
It is Brian Jones who gives the band their name and even books their first gigs. The group is dubbed The Rollin’ Stones after the 1950 song ‘Rollin’ Stone’ by blues man Muddy Waters. Whenever the act’s name appears in print a ‘g’ is added so, after a while, they just accept the amended sobriquet The Rolling Stones. At their debut at the Marquee Club on 12 July 1962, the line-up is: Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Brian Jones (guitar), Ian Stewart (piano), Dick Taylor (bass) and Mick Avory (drums). Jagger, Richards and Jones share an apartment in the London borough of Hammersmith. Times are tough with only Ian Stewart holding down a day job (with the chemical company ICI). The group makes their first demo tape – which is rejected by EMI Records.
Mick Avory leaves The Rolling Stones, later surfacing in The Kinks, another major British band of the 1960s. He is replaced by Tony Chapman, but Chapman is soon considered ‘unsatisfactory.’ The person they really want is Charlie Watts, but he is reluctant to leave Blues Incorporated. In the meantime, Dick Taylor packs it in. Taylor goes on to the Royal College of Art and then, in 1963, forms a new band, The Pretty Things. Replacing Taylor on bass in The Rolling Stones is Bill Wyman.
Bill Wyman is born William George Perks on 24 October 1936 in Penge, Kent, England. As a child, Bill learns to play organ thanks to the tuition of his father, a bricklayer. Bill undertakes National Service with a regiment of the Royal Air Force. Returning to the U.K. after his stint in the armed forces, in 1959 Bill marries Diane Cory Wyman and has a son, Stephen (born 29 March 1962). Bill takes a job as a carpenter while teaching himself to play bass. He moves on to a career in engineering. Coincidentally, Wyman plays bass in a group called The Cliftons, whose members include Tony Chapman, who goes on to a short stint in The Rolling Stones. “I saw an advert for a bass player,” Wyman says and, after surviving the audition process, becomes the newest member of The Rolling Stones (though he is the oldest in the group).
In January 1963 Charlie Watts finally succumbs to the entreaties of his former Blues Incorporated comrades and signs up as The Rolling Stones’ drummer. Charles Robert Watts is born 2 June 1941 in Islington, England. His father and namesake, Charles Watts, is a truck driver. Charlie’s mother is Lily Watts. Charlie has a sister, Linda. Charlie attends Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School before going on to Harrow Art College. He uses this training in graphics to obtain a job in an advertising agency. Of course, Charlie Watts also has musical aspirations: “I wanted to play drums because I was in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about the adulation. It was about the playing.” Despite the allure of showbiz, Watts is described as ‘the most reticent, the most quiet, and least wild’ of The Rolling Stones. Because of the pressures of playing by night and working in the ad agency in the day, Watts quit Blues Incorporated to join the less demanding Blues By Six. Yet he decides to gamble it all and switch to The Rolling Stones instead.
From January 1963 to June 1966 Mick Jagger romances the model Chrissie Shrimpton.
The Rolling Stones record a second demo tape, this one under the supervision of their friend, Glyn Johns. They begin an eight month residency at the Crawdaddy Club at the Station Hotel, Richmond.
On 28 March 1963 one of The Rolling Stones’ shows at the Crawdaddy Club is attended by Andrew Loog Oldham. Aged 19, Oldham is younger than any of the band. He formerly worked as a publicist and associate for Brian Epstein, the manager of a band from Liverpool called The Beatles. At this stage, The Beatles are enjoying their first chart-toppers and are the hottest thing in the British rock music scene. Oldham feels The Rolling Stones may rival them and signs them to a management contract on 29 March 1963. Eric Easton, ‘an old hand’, acts as co-manager. Oldham secures a recording contract for The Rolling Stones with Decca Records, a company that is still kicking themselves for rejecting The Beatles and letting them slip through their hands. Oldham decides to fire The Rolling Stones’ piano player, Ian Stewart. A childhood bout of measles left Stewart with a disproportionately large jaw and the group’s young manager declares Stewart ‘doesn’t have pop star looks.’ Ian Stewart becomes the group’s road manager instead, though he still plays piano with them on occasion – both live and in the recording studio – over subsequent years, until his death from a heart attack in 1985.
The Rolling Stones line-up is now fixed as: Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Brian Jones (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Andrew Loog Oldham tries to have his charges dress in identical uniforms but Jagger and company are too lazy and cynical to put with such a thing. Matching suits may have worked for The Beatles, but not for this bunch. Oldham seizes upon the idea that, instead of making The Rolling Stones imitations of The Beatles, he will foster the image of them as the anti-Beatles. Where The Beatles are cute, lovable, cuddly mop-tops, safe for all the family, The Rolling Stones will be ‘bad boys’, dangerous outlaws, ‘unkempt and surly youths.’
The music of The Rolling Stones draws from three main precursors: rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and blues. Rock ‘n’ roll, as formulated in the 1950s, is a meeting of country and western music and rhythm and blues. Often used as little more than a euphemism for music originating in the African-American community, rhythm and blues is a more dance-oriented evolution from the blues. Reaching further back again, the blues is an electrified version of the call-and-response work songs and spirituals created by African slaves brought to the United States in earlier centuries. The blues is particularly important as a foundation for the whole early 1960s U.K. scene nurtured by Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies and John Mayall, an environment from which springs The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger explains that, “We were blues purists who liked ever-so-commercial things but never did them on stage because we were so horrible and so aware of being blues purists, you know what I mean?”
Mick Jagger redefines male sexuality and, in the process, ‘with his preening machismo and latent maliciousness…becomes the prototypical rock frontman.’ The shocked first reactions to ‘that vile-looking singer with the tire-tread lips’ give way to the adulation of screaming fans, though he ‘remains one of the most inscrutable major characters in rock.’
As a guitarist, Keith Richards plays a crucial role in the development of rock. In blues and early rock ‘n’ roll, guitar licks act like the call back response of African music. The songs are virtually a dialogue between, in turn, voice and guitar. Keith Richards is largely responsible for codifying the riff, a short, repeated musical phrase. In The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger’s vocals are chanted over the top of Richards’ guitar riffs instead of in the breaks between bursts of distorted, amplified sound. This sets the pattern for hard rock and heavy metal acts to come.
The Rolling Stones’ songs are created by the songwriting team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In broad terms, Mick is the intellect, the ironist and the lyricist, while Keith is more instinctual, animalistic and musical. The relationship mirrors the two hemispheres of the human brain – the left ‘logical’ side and the right ‘creative’ side. Mick and Keith begin collaborating as songwriters from the band’s first album but, in the early days, more emphasis is given to cover versions. Their earliest compositions are pseudonymously credited to Nanker Phelge or, simply, Phelge. A ‘nanker’ is a name The Rolling Stones give to the faces they pull for photographers. Jimmy Phelge was a former roommate of Keith Richards and Brian Jones, a character described by Richards as “the most disgusting person ever.” The main themes in The Rolling Stones songbook are: (i) sex and associated power games; (ii) the divide between rich and poor; (iii) the sickness of modern society; and (iv) depraved behaviour. These themes weave together into a tapestry of a world of decadence. If life in the atomic age is sinking downwards as surely as ‘The Titanic’ after striking an iceberg, then The Rolling Stones are playing in the ballroom of the doomed vessel.
Decca Records release the first single by The Rolling Stones on 7 June 1963. This is ‘Come On’ (UK no. 21), a cover version of a song recorded by rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry in 1961. In addition to choppy guitar, The Stones’ version features a wailing harmonica played by Brian Jones.
On 29 September 1963, The Rolling Stones begin their first nationwide tour – as a support act on a package tour by visiting U.S. rock ‘n’ roll stars The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley and (from 5 October) Little Richard.
The second single from The Rolling Stones is ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ (UK no. 12), which comes out on 1 November 1963. A few weeks later, on 22 November 1963, the same song appears on the second album by The Beatles. This is not so surprising because it is written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles. Andrew Loog Oldham’s connections with Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, had helped The Stones obtain a shot at the song. Oldham may be grooming his act to be The Beatles’ rivals, but he’s not averse to trying to borrow some of their Midas touch at this early stage. The Stones’ careening version pumps up the snotty, brattish attitude.
From 1963 to 1965 Brian Jones is in a relationship with Linda Lawrence. She becomes the mother of his fourth child, Julian Brian (born 23 July 1964). The similarity in the names of this boy and the previous son (Julian Mark) of The Rolling Stones’ blonde guitarist is because both children are named after the jazz musician Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley.
On 6 January 1964, The Rolling Stones headline their own national tour for the first time. The support act on this jaunt around Britain is the U.S. female vocal trio, The Ronettes.
On 17 January 1964 an EP, titled ‘The Rolling Stones’ (UK no. 1), is issued by Decca. The four tracks on this disc are the group’s versions of ‘Bye Bye Johnny’, ‘Money’, ‘You Better Move On’ (AUS no. 94), and ‘Poison Ivy’. This EP, and the group’s first album, are both co-produced by the band’s managers, Andrew Loog Oldham and Eric Easton.
The Rolling Stones’ February 1964 single, ‘Not Fade Away’ (UK no. 3, US no. 48, AUS no. 38), bristles with telegraphic urgency. It is a song originally recorded by 1950s rock star, Buddy Holly.
The debut album, like the first EP, is also titled simply ‘The Rolling Stones’ (1964) (UK no. 1) and follows on 17 April 1964. This set includes cover versions of the Chuck Berry song, ‘Carol’, from 1958 and Rufus Thomas’ 1961 rhythm and blues hit ‘Walking The Dog’. Perhaps more significant is ‘Tell Me’ (US no. 24, AUS no. 32), a Mick Jagger and Keith Richards original, full of acoustic guitars and tortured drama.
Brian Jones is said to remain involved with Linda Lawrence until 1965, but a relationship with Dawn Molloy in 1964 results in the birth of his fifth child, John Paul Andrew Jones (born 23 March 1965).
On 1 June 1964, The Rolling Stones begin their first tour of the United States. While in the U.S.A., they undertake some recording sessions, including some work at Chicago’s Chess Studios where blues men Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters recorded, as did Chuck Berry. The sessions yield their biggest hit yet, a cover of ‘It’s All Over Now’ (UK no. 1, US no. 26, AUS no. 9), a song first recorded by Bobby Womack’s band, The Valentinos, earlier in 1964. The same visit to Chess spawns the EP ‘Five By Five’ (UK no. 1) on 14 August 1964 consisting of ‘If You Need Me’, ‘Empty Heart’, ‘2120 South Michigan Ave’ (the sole original), ‘Confessin’ The Blues’ and ‘Around The World’. By this time, Eric Easton has been eased aside and Andrew Loog Oldham is the sole manager and producer for The Rolling Stones.
On 24 August 1964 ‘As Tears Go By’ is issued as a single – but not by The Rolling Stones. This sad, but pretty, ballad is written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but is given away to another client of their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. It is recorded by Marianne Faithfull, the 17 year old daughter of an Austrian baroness.
In September 1964, The Rolling Stones issue the single ‘Time Is On My Side’ (US no. 6, AUS no. 4) for the overseas market. Written by Jerry Ragavoy, the song was given a soulful reading by Irma Thomas in 1964. The Stones dutifully follow that proud and pained template.
On 14 October 1964 Charlie Watts marries Shirley Ann Shepherd. They will go on to have a daughter, Seraphina (born 18 March 1968).
The Rolling Stones close out 1964 with the December single ‘Little Red Rooster’ (UK no. 1, AUS no. 2) which is banned in the U.S.A. because of its lyrics, presumable due to ambiguity about whether the subject is a barnyard bird or male genitalia. The song was written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by blues legend, Howlin’ Wolf, in 1961. ‘Little Red Rooster’, with its bluesy slide guitar, is ‘reputed to be Brian Jones’ most cherished musical memory.’
‘The Rolling Stones No. 2’ (1965) (UK no. 1) in January includes ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ and a cover of The Drifters’ 1964 hit ‘Under The Boardwalk’ as well as the previously mentioned ‘Time Is On My Side’.
The 1965 single, ‘Heart Of Stone’ (US no. 19, AUS no. 5), is a Mick Jagger and Keith Richards original. This tale of love gone awry is given a blues flavoured workout.
On 18 March 1965 The Rolling Stones are arrested for ‘insulting behaviour.’ In this instance, that means urinating on the wall of the Francis Garage in London. The band contends they were denied access to the men’s room by the proprietors of the petrol station so felt obliged to relieve themselves outside.
Ten days later, ‘The Last Time’ (UK no. 1, US no. 9, AUS no. 2) is topping the British singles chart. Composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, ‘The Last Time’ really heralds the emergence of The Rolling Stones as songwriters. Starting here, covers of influential songs by other artists fade into the background of their repertoire. From this point, unless otherwise indicated, all Rolling Stones songs are composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. ‘The Last Time’ has a classic, hooky riff from Keith and maintains a good pace. “Well I told you once and I told you twice / But you never listen to my advice,” whines Jagger as he prepares to dismiss some luckless girl. The B side, ‘Play With Fire’ (US no. 96), is a menacing account of the decadence of the upper class.
The ‘classic single’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 2) enters the charts in June 1965. Keith Richards had bought a Gibson ‘fuzz-box’ (a guitar distortion device) and, while messing about with it in the middle of the night, came up with a guitar riff. Richards says of the song, “It could just as well have been called ‘Aunt Millie’s Got Her T*t Caught In The Mangle’.” [In the days before washing machines, a ‘mangle’ was a pair of rollers attached to the top of a laundry bucket. After the clothing was scrubbed, it was fed through the mangle to squeeze out excess water before the items were hung out to dry.] Although the guitarist’s riff is undeniably crucial to the song’s appeal, Mick Jagger’s incisive lyric details the pressures of a consumerist society and a young person’s general impatience about not having things go their way. Over a stomping beat, he explains his girl troubles: “She tells me, ‘Baby, baby, come back, maybe next week’ / Can’t you see I’m on a losing streak.” Or maybe, instead of the latter half of the line indicating the narrator’s ill fortune, the quote should end after the girl pronounces she is ‘on a losing streak’, suggesting she can’t have sex because she is menstruating? This ambiguity is enough to get the song ‘banned by numerous radio stations because of its supposedly suggestive lyrics.’ For The Rolling Stones, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is ‘their calling card.’
‘Got Live If You Want It’ (UK no. 1) is an EP released on 11 June 1965. It is drawn from concert recordings of British Rolling Stones shows in Liverpool and Manchester in March 1965. The six tracks are: ‘We Want The Stones’, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’, ‘Pain In My Heart’, ‘Route 66’, ‘I’m Moving On’ and ‘I’m Alright’. They are all cover versions aside from the opening and closing tracks.
On 28 August 1965, The Rolling Stones announce that Allen Klein, a New York accountant turned music business personality, will be their co-manager alongside Andrew Loog Oldham.
‘Out Of Our Heads’ (1965) (UK no. 2) in September still includes cover versions such as soul music classics like ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ and ‘Cry To Me’. The most interesting of the original songs on the disc might be ‘I’m Free’, a distinctively 1960s loose-limbed abrogation of responsibility with Keith Richards providing high vocal harmonies.
‘Get Off My Cloud’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 2) is the Rolling Stones’ next single in October 1965. If listeners can get past a shuddering, shattering, guitar riff, the song again skewers consumerism: “Then in flies a guy who’s all dressed up like a Union Jack / And says I’ve won five pounds if I have his kind of detergent pack.”
Brian Jones’ love life continues to be complicated. From 1965 to 1966 he is involved with Zouzou, a French model, actress and singer. From 1965 to 1967 he is also seeing Nico, a German-born actress and model, who arrives in London in 1965 to begin a singing career. While visiting Munich, Germany, in 1965 Brian also meets Anita Pallenberg, an Italian-born actress and fashion designer who is in Germany on a modelling assignment. In 1966 she joins Jones’ parade of lady loves.
The Rolling Stones’ 1966 singles are a rich and diverse assortment. They reclaim ‘As Tears Go By’ (US no. 6, AUS no. 2), earlier recorded by Marianne Faithfull. ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ (UK no. 2, US no. 2) is the full-blown sound of madness in a tubular echo as the narrator, as much as the girl who is the nominal subject, comes mentally unglued. Perhaps their best single for the year is ‘Paint It Black’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1). Brian Jones imparts unusual musical colours using an Indian sitar, a steely, guitar-like instrument. The song itself is almost structured like folk music driven into furious depression: “I see a red door and I want it painted black / No colours anymore, I want them to turn black.” ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ (US no. 8, AUS no. 10) is a taunting sketch of suburban drug use. The B side of ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ is the arch ‘Lady Jane’ (US no. 24) which sounds almost medieval, thanks to the harpsichord-like dulcimer played by Brian Jones. Mick Jagger’s lyrics on ‘Lady Jane’ limn another portrait of the sniffy, decadent aristocracy. ‘Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing In The Shadows)?’ (UK no. 5, US no. 9, AUS no. 24) is a dense fog of horn-heavy sound that maintains a reckless, headlong momentum. It is, perhaps, just as notable for the single’s picture sleeve showing the five members of the band dressed in women’s clothing. ‘Under My Thumb’ is a song of misogyny and marimbas, the xylophone-like instrument played by Brian Jones, on this unsettling piece. So productive are The Rolling Stones that the attractive pop of ‘Out Of Time’ is give away to their friend, Chris Farlowe, to give him a hit.
The Rolling Stones’ own version of ‘Out Of Time’ shows up on ‘Aftermath’ (1966) (UK no. 1) in April, their first album consisting entirely of original material. This is a bit of an anomaly because, in future, the usual practice is for each of the band’s albums to include one cover version. ‘Mother’s Little Helper’, ‘Lady Jane’ and ‘Under My Thumb’ are all present here. The best of the rest are the shrugging ‘What To Do’ and the excoriating ‘Stupid Girl’.
In August 1966 Marianne Faithfull, the girl who sang ‘As Tears Go By’ in 1964, becomes Mick Jagger’s girlfriend. She married art gallery owner John Dunbar on 6 May 1965 and had a son, Nicholas (born 10 November 1965) by him. She leaves her husband to take up with The Rolling Stones’ vocalist.
In 1967 the musical times are changing. Psychedelia is the order of the day. This is a music style that sets out to sonically replicate the effect of mind-expanding drugs like L.S.D. To that end, psychedelia employs whimsical, nursery rhyme lyrics and exotic and eccentric sounds. Some of the odd instrumentation employed by The Rolling Stones in 1966 – particularly the sitar – fits with this new style.
‘Between The Buttons’ (1967) (UK no. 3) in January, and the single ‘Yesterday’s Papers’, usher in The Rolling Stones psychedelic period. Although its rather dainty melody is suitably psychedelic, lyrically, ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ – with its love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude – is vintage Stones.
The double A sided January 1967 single ‘Ruby Tuesday’ (US no. 1, AUS no. 3) coupled with ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ (UK no. 3, US no. 55), may be the most successful of The Rolling Stones psychedelic phase. Allegedly a song about a groupie, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ is lent an otherworldly air by Keith Richards bowing the strings of a double bass, producing a sound like a cello, over flutes and volleys of drums. Mick Jagger’s lyric captures the vague nature of the era: “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday / Who could hang a name on you? / When you change with every new day / Still, I’m gonna miss you.” ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ is, by contrast, a pop song about lust played by horny boys with a piano. It occasions some controversy when it is performed by The Rolling Stones on U.S. television program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ on 15 January 1967. In what seems an act of self-censorship, Jagger slurs the chorus so it sounds more like (the less provocative) ‘Let’s spend some time together.’
Brian Jones’ relationship with Anita Pallenberg comes to a halt in March 1967 during a holiday in Morocco, ‘after Jones’ violent behaviour towards Pallenberg.’ She takes solace in the arms of Keith Richards. The Richards and Pallenberg partnership begins in March 1967 and continues for many years to come. Brian moves on to model Suki Potier who is his companion from 1967 to 1969. Bill Wyman separates from Diane Cory Wyman and begins a long-term relationship with Astrid Lundstrom in 1967.
In the background to all this, there is the drug bust at Keith Richards’ ‘Redlands’ estate on 12 February 1967. Charges are laid on 10 April 1967, a trial is held on 29 June 1967, and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wind up behind bars. Seeing the writing on the wall, The Rolling Stones had hastily recorded ‘We Love You’ (UK no. 8, US no. 50, AUS no. 4), fearing it may be their swan song. With its sullen vocal and slamming cell door effects, ‘We Love You’ is a rather glum version of psychedelia. The flipside, ‘Dandelion’ (US no. 14), is a happier hippie anthem, a kids’ game for flower children. In any case, the ringleaders of The Rolling Stones are not fated to rot in prison. Their unlikely saviour is William H. Rees-Mogg of The London Times’ newspaper whose impassioned editorial, ‘Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?’ on 1 July 1967 suggests the law made have unfairly discriminated against Jagger and Richards because of their celebrity. On 31 July 1967 a London Appeals Court throws out Richards’ conviction and reduces Jagger’s sentence from three months imprisonment to conditional discharge with probation.
In parallel to this legal drama, Brian Jones has his own brush with the authorities. On 10 May 1967 he is arrested in his London apartment and charged with unlawful possession of drugs. On 30 October 1967 he pleads guilty to possession of cannabis, but not guilty to possessing cocaine and Methedrine. Jones is sentenced to nine months imprisonment but released on bail pending an appeal. On 12 December 1967 a London Appeal Court commutes his sentence after psychiatric testimony that Brian Jones could not withstand time in prison.
Up to this point, London Records in the U.S.A. has been reformatting The Rolling Stones’ British output for the American market. Although some of the album names are the same as the British originals, there are always at least minor differences in the contents. The Rolling Stones’ American albums so far have been: ‘The Rolling Stones’ (1964) (US no. 11), ’12 X 5’ (1964) (US no. 3), ‘The Rolling Stones, Now!’ (1965) (US no. 5), ‘Out Of Our Heads’ (1965) (US no. 1), ‘December’s Children (And Everybody’s) (1965) (US no. 4), ‘Big Hits (High Tides And Green Grass)’ (1966) (US no. 3) [a compilation of greatest hits], ‘Got Live If You Want It’ (1966) (US no. 6) [This is a full-length album, unlike its British EP namesake, taken from a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall], ‘Between The Buttons’ (1967) (US no. 2) and ‘Flowers’ (1967) (US no. 3). From their next release, the U.S. and U.K. original material is identical.
While the Rolling Stones were busy with the British courts, their supposed rivals, The Beatles, released ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967) in June. This is the height of psychedelia and possibly the height of both The Beatles’ career and 1960s rock music. In December, The Rolling Stones respond with ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ (1967) (UK no. 3, US no. 2). The cover has glued to it a 3-D image of the band members dressed as wizards. The best known tracks from this album are ‘She’s A Rainbow’ (US no. 25, AUS no. 9), a psychedelic sketch for piano and horns, and ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, a voyage to outer space via “soft explosions”, accompanied by science-fiction sound effects. It’s probably true that, perhaps due to the strained circumstances of The Stones’ year, their effort is overshadowed by ‘Sgt Peppers’. ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ is the last gasp of the psychedelic era for Jagger and company. “I never liked the hippie thing,” grunts Charlie Watts. It also spells the end of the group’s relationship with manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham.
Mick Jagger spends part of 1968 acting in the film ‘Performance’ (1970) – though the movie is not released until 3 August 1970. Marianne Faithfull was to have appeared in the film but has to bow out because she is pregnant with Jagger’s child. Anita Pallenberg steps into the production instead. The sex scenes she films with Jagger upset her lover, Keith Richards. Further aggravating the situation are rumours that Jagger and Pallenberg are not just acting, but actually have an affair during this time. Marianne Faithfull has a miscarriage, losing Jagger’s daughter eight months into the pregnancy.
On 21 May 1968 Brian Jones is arrested again for possession of cannabis. Since he was still on probation after his last offence, this rather dims The Rolling Stones’ chances of touring internationally.
On 25 May 1968 The Rolling Stones release the one-off single ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ (UK no. 1, US no. 3, AUS no. 2). This is a crucial turning point for the group. They jettison the flower children psychedelic trappings in favour of a harder-edged, darker, rock sound. It is not what they were doing from 1963 to 1966; this is a new, sleeker beast. The lesson to be learned is that The Rolling Stones prosper when they are true to themselves rather than trying to copy The Beatles. Bassist Bill Wyman claims to have written the classic riff for ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ but, officially, it remains attributed to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” boasts Jagger / Jack, “and I howled at my Ma in the driving rain.” Later in the tough-minded song, the narrator claims, “I was schooled with a strap right across my back.” ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ is produced by Jimmy Miller, who will produce the next five Rolling Stones albums.
Around this time, The Rolling Stones begin billing themselves as ‘the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.’
Jimmy Miller’s full-length production debut with The Rolling Stones is ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ (1968) (UK no. 3, US no. 5) in December. There are some delays in the production of the disc because the cover photo of a heavily graffiti marked toilet wall is considered rather unsavoury. In some markets, the album is released with a plain, white, formal invitation card as the cover instead. The album kicks off with ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, a bongo-infested tropical tune. If there is any doubt about its subject matter, it appears to be settled by the lyric: “Just call me Lucifer / ‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint.” The song covers evil through the ages from the death of Jesus Christ through the Russian revolution and the Nazi blitzkrieg up to the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his younger brother – and later presidential candidate – Robert Kennedy. The tense ‘Street Fighting Man’ (US no. 48, AUS no. 13) keeps things on the boil. As violence and uprisings spread through the world, Mick Jagger can only offer: “But what can a poor boy do? Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band / ‘Cos in sleepy London town is / Just no place for a street fighting man, no.” The song is banned in some U.S. cities where it is feared it may incite riots. ‘No Expectations’ is a loping country blues and ‘Stray Cat Blues’ is one of their more underrated pieces.
On 12 December 1968 a television special, ‘The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus’, is filmed. As well as The Stones, clowns and acrobats, the program features Marianne Faithfull, John Lennon (of The Beatles) and his partner Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton (from blues rockers Cream), Mitch Mitchell (drummer with flamboyant guitarist Jimi Hendrix), The Who (another fixture of 1960s British rock), Jethro Tull (emerging art rockers) and Taj Mahal (blues and roots musician). The program is not screened ‘because The Stones feel their performance leaves much to be desired – especially after the show The Who puts on.’ Decades later, The Rolling Stones finally make the footage available in 1996.
In 1969 Bill Wyman and his wife, Diane Cory Wyman, divorce, leaving him free to continue his long-term relationship with Astrid Lundstrom begun in 1967.
Keith Richards and his partner, Anita Pallenberg, become parents when their son, Marlon, is born in 1969. The couple go on to have a daughter, Angela (born 1972), as well – though, at birth, the babe is first known as Dandelion. Richards and Pallenberg have a third child, a son named Tara (born 6 June 1976), but the infant dies less than three months after being born.
On 28 May 1969 Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull are arrested on charges of marijuana possession.
On 9 June 1969 Brian Jones announces he is leaving The Rolling Stones. “I no longer see eye to eye with the others over the discs we are cutting,” Jones claims. “We’d known for a few months that Brian wasn’t keen on it,” admits Mick Jagger. Jones’ contribution to the last Rolling Stones album, ‘Beggar’s Banquet’, was fairly minimal. There is some question of whether Brian Jones’ departure was his idea or if he was shown the door. It has been suggested that Jones ‘f***ed and doped himself past all usefulness.’ He has vague plans to start a band of his own.
On 13 June 1969 Mick Taylor is announced as Brian Jones’ replacement in The Rolling Stones. Michael Kevin Taylor is born 17 January 1948 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. He is the son of an aircraft worker. Mick Taylor goes to school at Onslow Secondary Modern in Hatfield. Standing six foot, three inches, Taylor is the tallest member of The Rolling Stones – and five inches taller than his predecessor, Brian Jones, the shortest of the bunch. Mick Taylor makes his reputation in his stint with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (May 1967 to 1969). Taylor is ‘generally regarded (by critics and musicians alike) as the greatest guitarist The Rolling Stones ever had.’ Certainly, Mick Taylor is the most technically proficient, but it is debatable whether that makes him ‘greater’ than the more instinctive and influential Keith Richards. Taylor later looks back at his confederates this way: “I sort of liked them, but was never passionate about The Stones. In some ways, I liked The Beatles more…I thought [The Stones] were all a bit vain and full of themselves.”
On 3 July 1969 Brian Jones is found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his Cotchford Farm Estate in Hartfield, East Sussex, England. The coroner’s report finds high levels of barbiturates and alcohol in the blood of the deceased, but attributes the death by drowning to ‘misadventure.’ ‘Some believe it was drugs [that killed Brian Jones], some believe it was an asthma attack, and some even believe it was murder.’ Anna Wohlin replaced Suki Potier as Brian Jones’ girlfriend a few months before his death. In 1999 Wohlin writes a book ‘stating that Brian was murdered by a friend who had been doing some work on his property’, but the official cause of death remains ‘misadventure.’
The Rolling Stones had planned, several weeks earlier, a free concert in London’s Hyde Park to introduce Mick Taylor to their act. With the untimely death of Brian Jones, the show on 5 July 1969 turns into a combination of Taylor’s debut and a tribute to Jones. Mick Jagger reads to the crowd some lines for ‘Adonais’, a poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley to memorialise the death of Shelley’s fellow poet, John Keats.
Mick Jagger flies to Australia to appear as the star of the movie ‘Ned Kelly’ (1970), which will be released on 7 October 1970. The rebellious rock singer probably seems like a good choice to play the Australian bushranger and outlaw. Jagger is accompanied by Marianne Faithfull. She is also set to appear in the film. On 8 July 1969 Faithfull attempts suicide with an overdose of barbiturates. She is dropped from the cast and admitted to hospital for treatment for heroin addiction. Diane Craig replaces Marianne Faithfull in the movie and filming begins on 12 July 1969 continuing for the next ten weeks.
On 11 July 1969 The Rolling Stones release the ‘staggeringly-debauched’ single ‘Honky Tonk Women’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1). From Charlie Watts’ cowbell and drums intro through its cockerel riff, this is decadence as classic rock: “I met a gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis / She tried to take me upstairs for a ride,” Mick Jagger sings in mock dismay.
From December 1969 to December 1970 Mick Jagger conducts an affair with African-American singer and actress Marsha Hunt. From this union is born Jagger’s first child, a daughter named Karis (born 4 November 1970).
Mick Taylor debuts on record with The Rolling Stones with ‘Let It Bleed’ (1969) (UK no. 1, US no. 3) in December. Three of the songs from this album – ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘You Got The Silver’ [the last-named is Keith Richards’ first lead vocal] – were recorded at the time of ‘Beggar’s Banquet’. ‘Midnight Rambler’ is a strutting blues with a huffing harmonica. The song is purportedly based on the crimes of Albert De Salvo, the Boston Strangler, who murdered thirteen women between 1962 and 1964. Allegedly, Mick Jagger’s spoken word midsection in this song quotes from De Salvo himself: “Talkin’ ‘bout the Boston, shh…it’s not one of those.” ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ (“But if you try sometimes,” advises the lyric, “You just might find / You get what you need”) is a more dreamy piece that builds in intensity as it progresses. Jagger wrote the song on an acoustic guitar in his bedroom, but its unusual opening comes from a different source. “Somebody said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, ‘That will be a laugh’,” he recounts. The title track, ‘Let It Bleed’, is a rural roughhouse with a piano that sounds like it is imported from the parlour of a brothel. African-American backing vocalist Merry Clayton wails the ‘hellish chorus’ of ‘Gimme Shelter’: “Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away!” With unwitting prophecy, Jagger tells a journalist, “Well, it’s a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning.”
The Rolling Stones return to the U.S.A. playing their first shows in three years in that country. Their various battles with the authorities over drug arrests kept them absent and made them miss out on the Woodstock festival (15-17 August 1969), the height of the hippie era. To compensate, The Rolling Stones plan what Mick Jagger describes as “The last and greatest concert of the 1960s.” After some difficulty securing an appropriate venue, at the last minute the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California, is chosen. The show is announced to be held on 6 December 1969. Although The Rolling Stones are the headliners and sponsors, other acts on the bill are The Jefferson Airplane; Santana; Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young; and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The Grateful Dead, another band scheduled for the show, back out but it is at their suggestion that the motorcycle gang, the Hell’s Angels, are hired as security for the event. The overenthusiastic motorcyclists cause havoc. The worst moment comes when they stab to death Meredith Hunter, an 18 year old African-American. He had seemingly been singled out because of his white, blonde, girlfriend. ‘Slashed in the back by a biker’, Hunter draws a pistol and then is slain by the Hell’s Angels. It is all captured in the movie documentary ‘Gimme Shelter’ (1970), directed by Albert and David Maysles. The footage includes an uncomprehending, ineffectual Mick Jagger pleading from the stage, “Everybody just cool out!” Legend has it that The Stones were playing ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ at the time of the murder, but this is incorrect. They were working through a bracket of ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘Under My Thumb’ and ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and it was ‘Under My Thumb’ they were playing when the murder took place. Nonetheless, it is some years before The Rolling Stones play ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ again. (Note: Alan David Passaro of the Hell’s Angels is tried for the murder of Meredith Hunter but is acquitted on grounds of self-defence since Hunter drew a gun before Passaro stabbed him.) Three more people die at Altamont that night. Two are victims of hit-and-run drivers and one person falls into a ditch and suffocates. With great understatement, Charlie Watts comments that Altamont, “was a bit more violent than [The Rolling Stones show at] Hyde Park.” Mick Jagger flies straight from Altamont to Switzerland ‘with a bulging suitcase of cash’.
In May 1970 Mick Jagger breaks up with Marianne Faithfull. The same month he takes up with Bianca Perez Morena De Macias, a Nicaraguan model whom some note looks rather like a female version of Jagger.
On 29 July 1970, The Rolling Stones dispense with the services of Allen Klein and henceforth are, essentially, self-managed.
‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out’ (1970) (UK no. 1, US no. 6) in October is a live album culled from the first two of four shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City performed by The Rolling Stones from 27 to 30 November 1969. This is the last Rolling Stones album issued by Decca Records as their contract expires.
On 6 January 1971 Mick Taylor becomes a father. It is on this date that his daughter, Chloe, is born. Chloe’s mother is Taylor’s girlfriend, Rose Miller. Taylor and Miller wed in 1975, though it is a ‘short-lived’ marriage.
In 1971 The Rolling Stones launch their own Rolling Stones Records label. The official logo, a caricature of Mick Jagger’s over-sized lips and lolling tongue, is designed by Ernie Cefalu and executed by John Pasche. The first release on the label is the single ‘Brown Sugar’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 5) on 13 April 1971. This is The Rolling Stones’ greatest single. Reputedly, it is inspired by Jagger’s dalliance with the African-American Marsha Hunt. “I wrote this in the middle of a desert in Australia on a portable electric guitar while I was making the ‘Ned Kelly’ movie in the summer of 1969,” Jagger explains. “The lyric was all to do with the dual combination of drugs and girls.” Said daring lyric goes: “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in a market down in New Orleans / Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing all right / Hear him whip the women just around midnight.” Provocative as the juxtaposition of images of slavery, bondage and sex may be, it’s only half the story. ‘Brown Sugar’ boasts one of the band’s most addictive riffs. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor are both in fine form, but Richards reveals its hidden weapon, “We use acoustic guitars a lot to shadow the electric.” It is the combination of the ‘scandalously sexist’ story and the raunchy, danceable groove that makes this the definitive Rolling Stones song.
Also released in April is The Rolling Stones’ best album, ‘Sticky Fingers’ (1971) (UK no. 1, US no. 1). The cover image is a photograph taken by pop art icon Andy Warhol of a male crotch with a suspicious bulge in the jeans. Early editions had an actual working zipper that could be unzipped to reveal the same crotch clad only in underpants. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mick Jagger’s crotch, but the model’s true identity is unconfirmed. It could be Gerald Malanga, a male model and associate of Warhol, or it could be Jed Johnson, Jay Johnson or Joe Dellesandro. ‘Sticky Fingers’ is a tightly focussed set of gems. Aside from ‘Brown Sugar’, the best of the rest is ‘Bitch’, an aggressive tune with punchy horns from Bobby Keys (saxophone) and Jim Price (trumpet) who will become semi-regular guests with the band for the next few years. “You got to mix it, child, you got to fix it / It must be love / It’s a bitch,” insists Jagger in the vocals. The album spreads itself wide, yet hits the mark each time. The grinding crush of ‘Sway’ and the sharp-edged ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ represent the hard rock end of the scale. ‘Wild Horses’ (US no. 28, AUS no. 96) is an acoustic lament of weary resignation that is reputedly about Marianne Faithfull miscarrying Jagger’s child, but the vocalist himself contradicts this: “Everyone always says this was written about Marianne but I don’t think it was.” The other delicate acoustic piece, ‘Moonlight Mile’, closes the album with a thoughtful, strange sort of majesty. There is an argument that Mick Taylor deserves a co-writing credit for both ‘Sway’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’, but it does not happen. However, Jagger’s ex, Marianne Faithfull, does share a credit with Jagger and Richards for the chilling drug saga, ‘Sister Morphine’. In contrast, there is ‘Dead Flowers’, an unrepentant farewell to bad love rendered in a humorous country music style. Bill Wyman notes that ‘Sticky Fingers’ puts the band “back with the blues that made us.”
On 12 May 1971 Mick Jagger marries Bianca Perez Morena De Macias in St Tropez, France. The guest list includes the rest of The Rolling Stones and such rock music luminaries as ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and guitarists Eric Clapton and Stephen Stills. Mick proceeds to embark on ‘the new jet-set lifestyle he and his bride lust after.’ Along the way, they have a daughter, Jade (born 21 October 1971).
The Rolling Stones spend most of 1971 living in the south of France to avoid ‘the oppressive tax laws in their native Britain.’ It is this situation that inspires them to name their next album ‘Exile On Main Street’ (1972) (UK no. 1, US no. 1). They are in ‘exile’ from the U.K. but, by playing songs inspired by American roots music, they are as near to their musical ‘main street’ as possible. Keith Richards claims, “The Stones don’t have a home anymore – hence the ‘exile’ – but they can still keep it together.” In this instance, they ‘keep it together’ in the basement of Villa Nellcote, Richards’ French home, where the album is recorded. ‘Exile On Main Street’ is a double album with eighteen tracks. Perhaps the highlight of the album is ‘Tumbling Dice’ (UK no. 5, US no. 7, AUS no. 22), a hard charging rocker “about gambling and love, an old blues trick,” explains Mick Jagger. ‘Sweet Virginia’ and ‘Torn And Frayed’ are country pieces evidently influenced by Richards’ friendship with country rocker Gram Parsons. ‘Happy’ (US no. 22), with Keith Richards on lead vocals, is banged out with just the guitarist, saxophone player Bobby Keys, and, on drums, producer Jimmy Miller. It is recorded while they were waiting around for the rest of The Rolling Stones to put in an appearance. ‘Sweet Black Angel’ and the burnt-out cigarette end called ‘Shine A Light’ are gospel influenced tunes here. Most underrated track on the album may be the slinky ‘Ventilator Blues’, a non-original traditional blues arranged by The Stones. For many, this album represents ‘their peak’ and is viewed as ‘The Stones’ greatest album.’
On 6 June 1973 the home of Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg in France is raided by police and they are fined for ‘possession of controlled substances.’ Another raid on 26 June 1973 at their British home in Chelsea nets conditional discharges on drugs charges involving mandrax tablets and three firearms offences. Keith has a blood transfusion in Switzerland to kick a heroin addiction – only to take up the drug again. Such is Richards’ reputation that he becomes known for his ‘living corpse demeanour.’
‘Goat’s Head Soup’ (1973) (UK no. 1, US no. 1) in August is described by Bill Wyman as “not my favourite album.” Mick Jagger retorts, “Some people won’t like it; too bad.” The most successful song here is ‘Angie’ (UK no. 5, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), a stinging, acoustic ballad. Some claim it is written about Angie Bowie, the wife of British glam rocker David Bowie. Keith Richards has a different explanation: “I’d recently had my daughter born , whose name was Angela, and the name was starting to ring around the house…But I’m not writing about my babies. Angie just fitted.” ‘Dancing With Mr D’ is Satanism in Halloween fancy dress. The police shooting in ‘Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)’ (US no. 15, AUS no. 100) is current affairs with a beat. Full throttle boogie rock is served up in ‘Silver Train’. The album’s closing track, ‘Star Star’, has a Chuck Berry influenced rock riff and saucy lyrics regarding a “Starf***er, starf***er.”
‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll’ (1974) (UK no. 2, US no. 1) includes ‘If You Can’t Rock Me’ but is better known for the glammed up title track, ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)’ (UK no. 10, US no. 16, AUS no. 17). This is a transitional album for two reasons. Firstly, this marks the production debut for the Glimmer Twins, a pseudonym for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who produce all subsequent Rolling Stones albums unless otherwise noted. Secondly, this is Mick Taylor’s last album with The Rolling Stones. Two months after the disc’s October release, on 12 December 1974 Mick Taylor announces his departure. “I had to leave because I was frustrated,” Taylor reveals. “I was bored a lot of the time…I also wanted to deal with my drug problems.” In retrospect, he takes the view that, “Had I remained with the band, I would probably be dead.”
Ron Wood accompanies The Rolling Stones for their 1975 U.S. tour as provisional replacement for Mick Taylor but the jury remains out on who will fill the slot on a permanent basis.
The recording sessions for the next Rolling Stones album, ‘Black And Blue’ (1976) (UK no. 2, US no. 1), turn into an audition for new guitarists. American-born Wayne Perkins, Harvey Mandel (from U.S. blues rockers Canned Heat) and Ron Wood all play on this album released in April 1976. There is some controversy about the ad campaign showing a bound and bruised model who is ‘black and blue for The Rolling Stones.’ ‘Fool To Cry’ (UK no. 6, US no. 10, AUS no. 45), a bluesy ballad about infidelity, has only Keith Richards on guitar. Harvey Mandel is used for the tight and funky ‘Hot Stuff’ (US no. 49).
Ron Wood is selected as the full-time second guitarist for The Rolling Stones.
Ronald David Wood is born 1 June 1947 in Hillingdon, London, England. Ron has two older brothers, Art and Ted. Ron Wood first comes to public attention as a bass player in The Jeff Beck Group (from 1967 to 1968). He and Rod Stewart (the vocalist from The Jeff Beck Group) are then recruited to join the remaining members of The Small Faces under the modified name of The Faces (1968-1975). With The Faces, Wood plays guitar rather than bass. In 1971 Ron Wood marries Krissy Findlay and they have a son, Jesse (born 30 October 1976). Wood is described as a ‘close personal friend’ of Keith Richards even before Wood joins The Stones. The other thing that seems to work in his favour is that, unlike Wayne Perkins or Harvey Mandel, Ron Wood is British. Richards recounts that, when deciding on a replacement for Mick Taylor, “We all looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s face it boys, this is an English band.’” As guitarists, Richards and Wood ‘combine for a certain bumptious dirtiness.’
On 19 May 1976 Keith Richards is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana after crashing his car near London. He is fined on 12 January 1977.
In January 1977 Mick Jagger begins dating Jerry Hall, a leggy, blonde model from Texas in the U.S.A. She had previously been the companion of Bryan Ferry, the British glam rock star. Obviously, Jagger’s relationship with his wife, Bianca, is coming unstuck by this time, but the divorce is not finalised until November 1979. Jagger and Hall have two children together, Elizabeth (born 2 March 1984) and James (born 28 August 1985) before they marry on 21 November 1990. They then have two more children, Georgia (born 12 January 1992) and Gabriel (born December 1997).
On 27 February 1977 Keith Richards is arrested in Toronto, Canada. He is charged with possession of cocaine and, more seriously, with possession of heroin with intent to traffic – a charge that may incur a life sentence. “Christ, Keith f***in’ gets busted every year,” fumes Mick Jagger. “I never had a problem with drugs – only with cops,” quips the guitarist. Ultimately, Richards is sentenced to perform charity benefit concerts for the Canadian Institute for the Blind. Some of these dates are played by The Rolling Stones, some by Keith and his hand-picked band, The New Barbarians (including Ron Wood).
The double album of concert recordings, ‘Love You Live’ (1977) (UK no. 3, US no. 5), released in September, is drawn from Rolling Stones shows in Paris, France, in 1976 and Toronto, Canada, in March 1977 (after Keith Richards’ drug bust, but before his trial).
Ron Wood begins seeing Jo Karslake in 1977. This leads to his divorce from Krissy Findlay in 1978. Wood’s relationship with Karslake results in a daughter named Leah (born 22 September 1978) and a son named Tyrone (born August 1982). (Jo Karslake also has a son, Jamie, from a previous marriage.) Ron Wood and Jo Karslake marry in 1985.
‘Some Girls’ (1978) (UK no. 2, US no. 1), released in June 1978, is the next album for The Rolling Stones. The cover is an altered version of an advertisement for wigs. Among the ‘models’ for the female wigs are the members of the Rolling Stones, comedienne Lucille Ball and actresses Farrah Fawcett, Judy Garland, Raquel Welch and Marilyn Monroe. None of the ladies (or their estates) are pleased about their images being used in this way. Despite the controversy, ‘Some Girls’ is one of the group’s better latter-day efforts. The biggest hit from this disc is ‘Miss You’ (UK no. 3, US no. 1, AUS no. 8), a song that moves with the times by incorporating a disco beat, though Mick Jagger insists that, “We didn’t think of this as a disco track at all.” Jagger’s despondent narrator is told, “We gonna come ‘round at twelve with some Puerto Rican girls that’s just dying to meet you,” but he remains inconsolable. While the disco ‘Miss You’ opens the album, the more artistically modern ‘Shattered’ (US no. 31) closes the show. At the mid-point is the mock country song ‘Faraway Eyes’ that shows the band has a sense of humour. Keith Richards handles lead vocals on ‘Before They Make Me Run’, a song that seems to address his drug-related battles with authority. The title track, ‘Some Girls’, is a sleazy recitation of women from various countries and ethnic groups (e.g. “Black girls just wanna get f***ed all night / I just don’t have that much jam”). ‘Beast Of Burden’ (US no. 8) is a coy take on sexual politics. But there is one overriding feeling to the album. “I think we definitely became more aggressive because of the punk thing,” observes Jagger. The ‘punk thing’ is punk rock, a new breed of acts who have pushed forward The Stones earlier rebellious and provocative stance to such an extent that the ageing Stones are threatened with obsolescence. Their most satisfying riposte is the thick and strong ‘Respectable’ (UK no. 23, AUS no. 91), even though its target is not the punks. “I think it might have had something to do with Bianca,” says Jagger, referring to his soon to be ex-wife.
In 1978 Keith Richards ‘kicks his [heroin] habit’ and, though he hardly becomes a model citizen, he generally curbs his excesses. His relationship with Anita Pallenberg comes to an end in 1980 after thirteen years together (though they never married).
‘Emotional Rescue’ (1980) (UK no. 1, US no. 1) is publicised by a (temporarily) heavily bearded Mick Jagger. The title track, ‘Emotional Rescue’ (UK no. 9, US no. 3, AUS no. 8), is enjoyably bonkers. Like ‘Miss You’, this is another pseudo disco number with Jagger adopting a high falsetto vocal. “This was all Mick,” points out Keith Richards. “He wanted to go that way, with the clubby, disco stuff. I didn’t particularly…[but] this was shortly after I’d cleaned up my act, and nobody was taking a lot of notice of what I said.” Of the album’s more traditional rock fare, the shrieking ‘She’s So Cold’ (UK no. 33, US no. 26, AUS no. 49) is probably the highlight.
‘Tattoo You’ (1981) (UK no. 2, US no. 1) is assembled from the offcuts of earlier recording sessions. A patchwork of rejected material does not sound promising but, oddly, it all jells very nicely. Proceedings get off with bang in the form of the startling riff for the lean and hard ‘Start Me Up’ (UK no. 7, US no. 2, AUS no. 1). The Stones had wrestled with a reggae arrangement for the song at the time of ‘Black And Blue’ but, by returning it to its straight-up rock origins, it all coalesces into a classic. There is a tacit acknowledgement of the band’s advancing years as Mick Jagger wails, “You make a grown man cry.” ‘Waiting On A Friend’ (UK no. 50, US no. 13, AUS no. 44) dates back to the sessions for ‘Goat’s Head Soup’ – or at least the melody does. Lyrics of an affable nature are added as is a saxophone solo by Sonny Rollins. ‘Tattoo You’ is ‘the last time The Stones completely dominate the charts.’ A live album, ‘Still Life’ (1982) (UK no. 4, US no. 5) follows.
Bill Wyman ends his relationship with Astrid Lundstrom in 1983. Though they had been together for seventeen years, they never married. The new ‘woman’ in the life of the 47 year old bass player is Mandy Smith. He began dating her when she was 13. The two marry in 1983 when Mandy is 18.
‘Undercover’ (1983) (UK no. 3, US no. 4) in November has a fairly harsh and tough tone. It’s best known track is ‘Undercover Of The Night’ (UK no. 11, US no. 9, AUS no. 27), a song with political overtones about the situation in South America at the time. The song has a chattering, eccentric, self-consciously modern mix. “Mick [Jagger] had this all mapped out, I just played on it,” admits Keith Richards. “Mick and I were starting to come to loggerheads.” ‘She Was Hot’ (UK no. 42, US no. 44, AUS no. 60) also draws some attention with its salacious boasting. Chris Kimsey acts as co-producer of this album with the Glimmer Twins.
On 18 December 1983 Keith Richards marries Patti Hansen, a former model he has been seeing since December 1979. Keith and Patti go on to have two daughters, Theodora (born 1985) and Alexandra (born 1986).
The ill will between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards really erupts with the release of Mick’s solo album, ‘She’s The Boss’ (1985) (UK no. 6, US no. 13). The guitarist ‘resents Jagger…making albums outside The Stones.’ ‘Dirty Work’ (1986) (UK no. 4, US no. 4), the next Rolling Stones release, predictably sees Richards taking on more responsibility and creating a more aggressive and rough-hewn work. The video for ‘One Hit (To The Body)’ (UK no. 80, US no. 28, AUS no. 34), a song co-written by Jagger, Richards and Ron Wood, makes the tension between Jagger and Richards plain. “There was this incipient power struggle going on between us at the time,” Richards confesses. The album’s biggest hit is a cover version of ‘Harlem Shuffle’ (UK no. 13, US no. 5, AUS no. 6), a 1963 hit for rhythm and blues duo Bob And Earl. Steve Lillywhite co-produces this album with the Glimmer Twins.
When another Mick Jagger solo album and a Keith Richards solo album follow in 1987 and 1988 respectively, their (comparative) lack of success convinces the duo to try to resolve their differences and concentrate on The Rolling Stones.
‘Steel Wheels’ (1989) (UK no. 2, US no. 3) is spearheaded by ‘Mixed Emotions’ (UK no. 36, US no. 5, AUS no. 25) (a single whose title can also be pronounced ‘Mick’s Demotion’). “Let’s bury the hatchet / Wipe out the past,” offers Mick Jagger in this battering gust of rock. The album’s other notable track is the big sound of ‘Rock And A Hard Place’ (UK no. 63, US no. 23), which also features a stammering guitar riff. Chris Kimsey returns as co-producer on this disc.
The live album ‘Flashpoint’ (1991) (UK no. 6, US no. 4) is the next album by The Rolling Stones.
Bill Wyman, the eldest of The Stones, bows out in 1991. Bill Wyman is not replaced. The Rolling Stones continue as a four-piece. Steve Jordan most regularly plays bass with them live and on record, but he remains a hired hand, rather than an official member.
Bill Wyman’s marriage to Mandy Smith ends in 1991. In 1992 Wyman marries Suzanne Accosta and they have three daughters: Katie (born September 1994), Jessica (born November 1995) and Matilda (born April 1998). In 1993 Wyman’s son from his first marriage, Stephen, becomes engaged to Mandy Smith’s mother, Patsy.
‘Voodoo Lounge’ (1994) (UK no. 1, US no. 2) is The Rolling Stones first album for Virgin Records. Don Was acts as co-producer with the Glimmer Twins. Darryl Jones plays bass on this album. After another live album, ‘Stripped’ (1995) (UK no. 9, US no. 9), The Rolling Stones next studio recording is ‘Bridges To Babylon’ (1997) (UK no. 6, US no. 3). This set features an array of co-producers: Don Was, Rob Fraboni, Danny Saber, Pierre De Beauport and the Dust Brothers. This is followed by yet another live album, ‘No Security’ (1998) (UK no. 67, US no. 34).
Mick Jagger’s 1998-1999 extra-marital affair with model Lucianna Gimenez Morad results in the birth of a son, Lucas (born 18 May 1999). It also results in Jagger’s marriage to Jerry Hall being annulled on 13 August 1999. Jagger then dates Venezuelan heiress Vanessa Neuman in 1999 and British model Sophie Dahl from August 2000 to July 2001. In 2001 he moves on to model L’Wren Scott (a.k.a. Luann Bambrough). Despite a fling with Caroline Maria Winberg in 2002-2003, Jagger returns to L’Wren Scott in 2004. On 17 March 2014 L’Wren Scott commits suicide by hanging herself.
The compilation album ‘Forty Licks’ (2002) (UK no. 2, US no. 2) includes four new tracks by The Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones vocalist is knighted on 12 December 2003 becoming Sir Mick Jagger. ‘A Bigger Bang’ (2004) (UK no. 2, US no. 3), co-produced by Don Was, is a full-length album of new material. ‘Live Licks’ (2004) (UK no. 38, US no. 50) is yet another concert recording. ‘Shine A Light’ (2008) (UK no. 2, US no. 11) in April is the soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese directed concert film starring The Rolling Stones, ‘Shine a Light’ (2008).
In July 2008 Ron Wood leaves his wife, Jo, for a relationship with Ekaterina ‘Katya’ Ivanova. The divorce comes through in November 2009…one month before his break-up with Ivanova in December 2009. Subsequently, in April 2012, Ron Wood takes up with theatre director Sally Humphries who he marries on 21 December 2012. Ron and Sally have twin daughters, Gracie Jane and Alice Rose (both born on 30 May 2016).
In 2014 Mick Jagger begins a romantic relationship with Melanie Hamrick. Mick and Melanie become the parents of a son, Deveraux (born on 8 December 2016).
The Rolling Stones’ album ‘Blue & Lonesome’ (2016) (UK no. 1, US no. 4, AUS no. 1), released on 2 December, consists entirely of cover versions of blues songs recorded originally by other artists. Don Was co-produces this set with The Glimmer Twins.
Few acts in the history of rock can match the longevity of The Rolling Stones. Their best work may have been over by the start of the 1990s but that still leaves them an extraordinarily lengthy stint as a valid and continually creative recording entity. Their showdown in court with the British authorities in 1967 was as near as the established powers of society came to defusing the band’s wild, rebellious ways, but it wasn’t the end for the group. Arguably, they came closer to self-induced destruction a number of times (e.g. Altamont in 1969, Keith Richards’ 1977 drug bust, the Jagger-Richards feud of the mid-1980s). If, inevitably with age, they were no longer the revolutionaries that their 1960s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, moulded their image to resemble, they remained – at least for some years – ‘the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.’ The Rolling Stones ‘have a backlog of work which includes some of the most exciting rock ‘n’ roll ever created.’ They were ‘the driving force for the 1960s rock revolution [and] expressed the anxieties of their times.’
- ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White (Columbus Books, 1984) p. 116, 119, 120, 124
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 60, 77, 78, 80, 84, 87, 89, 91, 95, 100, 102, 103, 105, 119, 126, 127, 130, 131, 132, 135, 137, 140, 144, 146, 148, 151, 158, 159, 160, 161, 165, 178, 183, 185, 186, 219, 235, 242, 255, 256, 266, 267, 268, 274
- snopes.com (25 April 2007)
- Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 2 December 2013
- Internet movie database imdb.com as at 27 January 2014
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 42, 150, 187, 196, 197, 198
- ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘The Rolling Stones’ by Robert Christgau (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 238, 248, 249
- answers.yahoo.com (2012)
- whosdatedwho.com as at 27 January 2013
- ‘Stones History & Discography’ – MTV Networks – angelfire.com/pa/Redlands/hist.html (as at 19 October 2001)
- U.K. (?) television interview with The Rolling Stones (1964)
- wikipedia.org as at 30 January 2014, 21 March 2014, 4 January 2017
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 56
- allmusic.com, ‘The Rolling Stones’ by Stephen Thomas Erlewine as at 9 December 2013
- ‘ABCs of the Human Mind’ – Edited by Alma E. Guinness (Reader’s Digest Association Inc. 1990) p. 70
- ‘Chuck Berry Gold’ – Sleeve notes by Mark Humphrey (Geffen Records, 2005) p. 22, 24
- ‘Rolled Gold + – The Very Best Of The Rolling Stones’ – Sleeve notes by Pierre Perrone (ABKCO Music and Records Inc., 2007) p. 5, 6, 7
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 69, 83, 141
- lyricsfreak.com as at 17 January 2014
- iorr.org/talk (19 September 2006)
- ‘Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘The Life, Loves and Hell of Marianne Faithfull’ (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-447189) (as at 29 January 2014)
- ‘Stone Alone’ by Bill Wyman via (12) above
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 35, 36, 44, 45
- ‘Empire’ (movie magazine) # 153 (December 2013) p. 43
- BBC Interviews – BBC Motion Gallery – Altamont related footage (You Tube – 26 January 2014)
- ‘Jump Back – The Best Of The Rolling Stones’ – Sleeve notes interview with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards conducted by Robert Sandall (Virgin Records, 1993) p. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11
- ‘Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘The Rolling Stone who’s Stony Broke: Why Mick Taylor lives in a Rundown Suffolk Semi with a Shabby Car’ by Bob Graham (13 September 2009) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
- ‘Sticky Fingers’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (1971, Virgin Records reissue 1993?) p. 6
- ajax.bibliocommons.com (25 January 2012)
- ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 64
- contactmusic.com – ‘Ronnie Wood’s Wife gets on with the Ex, Jo’ by Bang Showbiz (8 October 2012)
- ‘Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Why I Opened the Door to the Goblin King: Katya Ivanova Lifts the Lid on her Relationship with Ron Wood’ by Antonia Hoyle (25 February 2010) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
Song lyrics copyright ABKCO Music Inc. (BMI) (1965-1971), EMI Music Publishing Ltd (1972-1990)
Last revised 11 January 2017