Early history: 1962–1967
The name Rollin' Stones was used for the first time on the 12th of July 1962 as they played in the Marquee club to replace Blues Incorperated. See: Rolling with the Stones, Bill Wyman's book.
The Rolling Stones, 1964. (From left) Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Keith RichardsEarly in their career they played covers of blues, rhythm and blues, country, and rock and roll music. Their first recordings were covers of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Muddy Waters, Larry Williams and Howlin' Wolf songs, among others. Founding members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are regarded as one of the greatest songwriting teams in the history of rock; the band never stopped being inspired by other genres. Reggae, funk, disco/dance, country, folk, soul, and even psychedelia have leaked into their recordings. They are the longest surviving rock & roll band in history.
The Rolling Stones, 1963.The band came into being in 1962 when former schoolmates Jagger and Richards met Brian Jones, who named the band after a lyric in the Muddy Waters song "Mannish Boy". The original line-up included Mick Jagger (vocals), Jones (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Richards (guitar), Ian "Stu" Stewart (piano), Mick Avory (drums) and Dick Taylor (bass). Taylor left shortly after to return to art school, and was later to form The Pretty Things. He was replaced by Bill Wyman. Another early part-time member was influential drummer Carlo Little, who was with Cyril Davies All Stars. United by their shared interest in rhythm and blues music, the group rehearsed extensively, initially playing in public at The Marquee Club in London, where Cyril Davies's rhythm and blues band was resident. They soon got their own residency at The Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, which was run by Russian emigre Giorgio Gomelsky, and began to establish themselves as London's premier live act, even being honoured with a visit from The Beatles. At first, Brian Jones, a guitarist who also toyed with numerous other instruments, was their creative leader, despite Mick Jagger increasingly becoming the focus during live performances. The band rapidly gained a reputation for their frantic, highly energetic covers of the rhythm and blues songs of their idols and, through their recently appointed sharp young manager Andrew Loog Oldham, were signed to Decca Records (who had passed when offered The Beatles).
The Rolling Stones, EP, 1964By the time of their first single release; a cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On", Ian Stewart was, at the insistence of Andrew Oldham, officially not part of the band, though he continued to record and perform with them. Another of Oldham's ideas was to convince Keith Richards to drop the 's' from his surname to become "Keith Richard", presumably in a bid to give him greater pop star credibility.
The Rolling Stones in 1964 The choice of material on their first, self-titled EP, reflected their live shows. Similarly, the album The Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hitmakers) which appeared in April 1964 featured versions of such classics as "Route 66" (originally recorded by Nat King Cole), "Mona" (Bo Diddley) and "Carol" (Chuck Berry). The performances were pivotal in introducing a generation of white British youth to rhythm and blues music, and helped to fuel the "British Invasion" of America. More importantly perhaps, whilst The Beatles were still suited, clean-cut boys with mop-top haircuts, The Stones cultivated the opposite image: decidedly unkempt, and posing for publicity photographs like a gang of surly yobs. This made many girls go crazy for their bad boy image, and soon made them a teen idol group. The follow-up album, The Rolling Stones #2 (Now in the U.S), was also composed mainly of cover tunes, only now augmented by a couple of songs written by the fledgling partnership of Jagger and Richards, having been locked in a room by their manager, who refused to let them out until they had written something they could release. Encouraged by Oldham, the band toured Europe and America continuously, playing to packed crowds of screaming teenagers in scenes reminiscent of the height of Beatlemania. While on tour they took time to visit important locations in the history of the music that inspired them, recording the EP Twelve By Five at the studios of Chess Records in Chicago, Illinois.
Back at home these early years of success represented a rare period of stability in the personal relationship between the band members. Jagger, Richards and Jones shared a squalid London flat in Edith Grove, Chelsea, throughout much of 1963 along with friend, reprobate, and later biographer James Phelge. The three Stones became so fond of Phelge that they used his name as part of the 'Nanker/Phelge' pseudonym to indicate early band writing compositions. Two years later Brian Jones began to see Anita Pallenberg, an actress and model who introduced them to the circle of society in which she moved: a group of young artists, musicians and filmmakers. Prompted by Oldham, who possessed sufficient business acumen to see where money was to be made, Jagger and Richards became more prolific songwriters and 1965's Out of Our Heads contained much self-penned material, including the classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and saw the dynamic of the band begin to change, with Jagger and Richards starting to emerge as the perceived leaders of the band. Jones, not unaware of his reduced importance, retreated into drug abuse, alienating both Richards and Pallenberg, who began a relationship that would last over ten years. During this period Pallenberg seemed to exert an influence on the music as somebody whose opinions the band trusted, particularly on the dark single "Paint it Black", and the (for 1966) shockingly sexually ambiguous video for "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadows)? ". With the main songwriters maintaining their rate of production, Aftermath (1966) continued the progression, consisting entirely of Jagger/Richards compositions including "Mother's Little Helper," about pill abuse, and the misogynistic "Under My Thumb", whereas on Between the Buttons (1967) they wore the influences of their many contemporaries, including The Who and The Kinks.
It was in this period that Tom Wolfe offered his 1965 summary that "The Beatles want to hold your hand, but The Stones want to burn your town."
The Rolling Stones, circa 1967.
By now the band had become almost synonymous with the rebellious spirit of the 1960s, and in particular a more relaxed attitude towards drug use. The British Sunday tabloid newspaper News of the World targeted the Stones and their perceived debauched lifestyles, and allegedly tipped off the police leading to a search of Keith Richard's country home, "Redlands" in West Wittering, Sussex. The February 1967 raid, now legendary in the band's mythology, occurred during one of the regular parties held there, and police discovered a moderate quantity of cannabis. The raid also served as a source of apocryphal stories, mainly concerning the appearance and demeanour of Mick Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull and a certain chocolate bar, which only served to augment their reputation for debauchery. It was also rumoured that the raid was delayed on police instructions to allow one guest George Harrison, guitarist with establishment favourites The Beatles to leave. Richards was charged and a few months later stood trial for allowing drug use in his home. Jagger was charged with possessing amphetamine tablets, which though bought legally in Italy to combat travel sickness, were still obtained without a doctor's prescription. Amidst intense press interest they were convicted, Richards was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and Jagger to four months, prompting The Times newspaper to run an editorial criticising the verdict. Beneath the title "Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?" editor William Rees-Mogg wrote:
"If we are going to make any case a symbol of the conflict between the sound traditional values of Britain and the new hedonism, then we must be sure that the sound traditional values include those of tolerance and equity." During the furor, Decca shrewdly released Flowers in the United States. Despite being a quickly cobbled-together collection of hits and studio outtakes, it was nevertheless a hit. The Who also rush-released a single covering two Stones originals "Under My Thumb" and "The Last Time" in a show of solidarity.
With Richards and Jagger out on bail and shortly to be acquitted on appeal, Jagger was immediately whisked off in a helicopter to appear on a BBC television programme " World in Action " taking part, along with members of the British establishment, in a live debate discussing the morals of modern society. Maybe as a result of the pressure he was feeling, he looked out of his depth and his arguments cut little ice with his fellow participants. The band then set about recording a new single "We Love You", officially as a thank you for the loyalty shown by their fans, though privately it was seen as a barbed attack on their perceived persecutors; the News of the World, the Metropolitan police force and members of the British judiciary. The record featured the sounds of footsteps and a cell door banging shut, and which it is rumoured was taken from a secret recording from within Wormwood Scrubs, the London prison where Richards was held overnight. Work then commenced on a new psychedelic album, which Jagger envisioned as the group's response to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper. The record, which would eventually be released as Their Satanic Majesties Request was recorded in difficult circumstances with various members of the band living under the threat of imprisonment, so much so, that Bill Wyman was able to get one of his songs "In Another Land" onto the album. The resulting record received lukewarm reviews observing that the songs and arrangements did not lend themselves to the band's natural style, although an increasingly drugged-out Jones continued an impressive display of instrumental experimentation. Despite Jagger later harshly pronouncing it "complete crap", a number of songs showcased the improving songwriting of Jagger and Richards, in particular the spacey "2000 Light Years From Home" which showcased Brian Jones's mellotron, and which has been revived for recent live performances. Within the band, however, the two principal writers were steadily wresting power from their former leader Jones.
After the excesses of Satanic Majesties, and with personal relations between Jones and Richards increasingly frayed, 1968's Beggars Banquet saw the band return to their roots. Despite the tension, and aided by an excellent sound from up-and-coming producer Jimmy Miller, Jagger and Richards produced some of their most memorable work, including the distorted acoustic guitar-driven "Street Fighting Man" and the anthemic "Sympathy for the Devil" and the Stones entered the phase that would see them billed as "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". The songs themselves were firmly rooted in the blues, but tempered by the changes that occurred in 1960s music and assimilating the imagery of Dylan and the emergent heavy rock of Cream and Jimi Hendrix. In contrast to its predecessor, however, it was a clear rejection of the hippie ethos, replacing the platitudes of "free love" with a layer of sleaze. Two other events contributed to the change in The Stones' sound. First, Keith Richards played extensively with Ry Cooder, and was taught his open-G guitar tuning (as used by John Lee Hooker), later admitting "I took Ry Cooder for all I could get". Secondly, both Jagger and Richards befriended Gram Parsons, who introduced them to country music with which he had grown up. Music was not all the Stones and the independently wealthy Parsons had in common: "We liked drugs," Richards said later, "and we liked the finest quality."
An ever-increasing consumption of drugs, however, was making Brian Jones less and less reliable. The ill-fated Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was one of his last projects with the band and increasingly he was either absent from recording sessions by choice, or simply not invited to attend. With a reduced contribution to Beggar's Banquet and a minimal one to Let It Bleed he found himself forced out of the band for good after an infamous late-night visit to his rural home from Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts on June 8th 1969, to be replaced by the young, jazz-influenced guitarist, Mick Taylor, drafted in from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and unveiled to the media only five days later.
Jones retreated to his Cotchford Farm home in Kent, a house formerly owned by Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne, drinking heavily in the local pub and planning his comeback with a blues band. However, within a month, and a matter of two days before the Stones were due to play a free concert in Hyde Park, London he was dead; found at the bottom of his swimming pool which was surrounded by statues of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Although his death was recorded as being by misadventure, the cause of the drowning to this day remains a mystery. A recent death-bed confession to murder by Frank Thorogood, a builder employed by Jones at the time, has only served to cloud the issue further. This theory has been continued further by the 2005 film 'Stoned' by Stephen Woolley.
Despite the tragedy, the Hyde Park concert went ahead, with an audience of 200.000 fans, with Jagger reading from Shelley's "Adonais" and releasing hundreds of butterflies by way of tribute to the late guitarist. The band's performance, under-rehearsed and suffering from some of the remaining members' narcotic intake, was somewhat shambolic and was captured by a Granada Television production team, later to be shown on British television as "Stones in the Park". The band had released the first recording with the new line up, a single called "Honky Tonk Women", which was recorded with Jones but had sections of his guitar part edited out and Taylor's part dubbed in at the last minute. It was released on July 3, 1969, co-inciding with the death of Jones, and remains the band's last number 1 single in the UK. An album Let It Bleed followed in December and was rapidly hailed as another classic, featuring the brooding "Gimme Shelter," "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and a further nod to their roots with a cover of Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain". It was to become the defining Rolling Stones album. Immediately, the band set off on another US tour, characterised by the hedonism that their position in rock's aristocracy afforded them.
This was like no other tour the band had yet undertaken. Away from the stage since 1966, they found that live performing had moved on since then. Rather than performing in small and medium sized venues to audiences of screaming girls, they were booked into huge baseball and football stadiums with crowd sizes to match. They blazed a trail for a multitude of stadium tours by the super-bands of the seventies, which continues to this day.
In an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Hyde Park, and as a reaction to the Woodstock festival, the tour culminated in a free concert given at Altamont, a disused racetrack located about 40 miles east of San Francisco. Originally, the Stones' appearance was to be a surprise for the festival in San Franciso's Golden Gate Park. Jagger's decision to announce at a press conference that the Stones would be performing at the event, possibly to ensure a sufficient audience for the concert movie, resulted in the city of San Francisco denying permits. This led to numerous problems as the event organizers had to scramble to plan the event. Image:Altamont1.jpg
The concert was a disaster. Jagger's refusal to perform during the day, again to ensure a better film with lighting at night, resulted in an escalation of violence between the 250.000 fans and security. The Rolling Stones had hired the local chapter of the Hells Angels to take care of security, as The Grateful Dead had a long and successful history of using the Angels for security. However, the American Angels were rather different from the British Angels, who were for the most part harmless Jagger-look-alikes. The Angels at Altamont may have in fact been consuming more drugs than most of the concert-goers. There are also rumours that they weren't real Angels, but just wannabes out to impress the gang with their toughness . The running battles between fans and security reached a head when Meredith Hunter, a young black fan who had unwisely brought a pistol to the show, was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels after aiming the firearm at the stage, during the band's performance of "Under My Thumb". The Altamont concert would be documented in Albert and David Maysles' film Gimme Shelter. Many cultural scholars of the time opined that Altamont marked the de facto end of the sixties.
Contrary to popular belief, The Grateful Dead, and particularly Jerry Garcia, were very opposed to hiring the Hell's Angels at this concert. They witnessed the crumbling of the show and as a result refused to play or even be associated with what was occurring.
1969 saw the end of the band's existing contract with Decca Records. The intervening years since they had signed with the record company had seen them become global superstars, and despite overtures they refused to sign a new contract. They recorded a final single as a contract obligation, the bawdy, unreleaseable ballad "Cocksucker Blues", and left to form their own record company under the financially astute eye of Mick Jagger. Sticky Fingers released in March (1971), the band's first album on their own Rolling Stones Records label, continued where Let It Bleed had left off, featuring one of their best known hits "Brown Sugar", the country influenced "Wild Horses" (which caused a disagreement between Gram Parsons and Mick Jagger over songwriting credits), the moody "Moonlight Mile" featuring Paul Buckmaster's evocative string arrangement and one of Jagger's finest vocal performances, and a version of Marianne Faithfull's "Sister Morphine" about her own ambiguous relationship with heroin. Mick Taylor collaborated heavily on this album with Jagger – probably because Richards was unable to contribute as constructively as usual due to his drug problems, and the sprawling " Can't You Hear Me Knocking' " attests to Taylor's influence. However, all the songs were credited as usual to 'Jagger/Richards' which frustrated Taylor.
Letting it bleed: 1972–1981
As Keith Richards removed himself from society, Mick Jagger began to move in more elevated social circles. He married the Nicaraguan model Bianca Perez Moreno de Macias, and the couple's jet-set lifestyle put further distance between himself and Richards. Pressured by the UK Inland Revenue service for several years of unpaid income tax, their recently appointed accountant Prince Rupert Lowenstein, a 'society' friend of Jagger's, advised the band to move abroad to avoid bankruptcy caused by the high rates of taxation of the Labour government of Harold Wilson. They eventually decided to quit Britain for the South of France, the band members taking to this enforced change of lifestyle with varying degrees of success. Bill Wyman, in particular, soon felt at home in his new mountainside house and became friendly with French painter Claude Chagall. Richards, however, adopted a more head-in-the-sand approach, ensconced in his London Cheyne Walk home in a state of insurrection until the very last minute.
Once in France Richards rented a gothic chateau "Villa Nellecote", which had been used as the headquarters for the local Nazi SS during the Second World War, and sublet rooms to the band members and a multitude of assorted hangers-on. Using the Rolling Stones Mobile studio, they began recording the double album Exile on Main St. (1972) in the basement of their new home, reputedly using electricity purloined from nearby railway lines. Dismissed by some on its release as sprawling and self-indulgent, the record is now considered among the band's (and rock & roll's) greatest. The film Cocksucker Blues, never officially released, documents the subsequent American tour.
The Rolling Stones on tour, 1972.By the time Exile on Main St. had been completed Jagger had made the other band members aware that he was more interested in the celebrity lifestyle than working on its follow-up, and increasingly their records were made piecemeal, with tracks and parts laid down as and when the band, Jagger and Richards in particular, could get together and remain amicable sufficiently long enough to do so. When it finally arrived, Goats Head Soup (1973) was disappointing, and memorable largely for the hit single "Angie," popularly believed to be about David Bowie's new wife, but in reality another of Richards' odes to Anita Pallenberg.
Interestingly, the popular ballad "Waiting on a Friend" was recorded during the Goats Head Soup sessions, but not released until Tattoo You, nearly ten years later. The making of the record was not helped by another legal battle over drugs, this one dating back to their stay in France. But the tour of Europe in the fall of 1973 showed the Rolling Stones in top form, particularly Taylor, who played extensive solos on songs like "Midnight Rambler" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in an exciting interplay with Richards on rhythm guitar.
A live recording made in Brussels on 17 October was intended for an official release, but owing to legal problems it appeared only on bootlegs (Nasty Music, The Bedspring Symphony and Brussels Affair). Many fans and critics regard these as the best Rolling Stones concert recordings. By the time they came to the Musicland studios in Munich to record 1974's It's Only Rock'N'Roll, there were even more problems. Regular producer Jimmy Miller was not asked to participate because of his increasing unreliability and drug use. Critics generally wrote the album off as uninspired from a band seen as stagnating, but both album and the single of the same name were hits, even without the customary tour to promote them; and, if anything, It's Only Rock'N'Roll was a return to form, being closer to the great albums the band released between 1968 and 1972. Mick Taylor's intricate lead style lent itself well to the hard-rocking record though his shy persona never quite matched Keith Richards' outspoken image and basic, Chuck Berry-inspired rhythm work. By this time Richards was reportedly berating Taylor during recording sessions, and he contributed little to the album. Irked by perceived mistreatment and a small share of the band's royalties, Taylor announced he was leaving the band shortly before sessions started for the next album, Black and Blue (1976). The band used the album's recording sessions (again in Munich) to audition possible replacements. Guitarists as stylistically far-flung as Humble Pie lead Peter Frampton and ex-Yardbirds impresario Jeff Beck were auditioned. American session players Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel appeared on much of the album, but the band settled on Ron Wood, a long-time friend of Richards' and guitarist with The Faces, whose singer Rod Stewart had recently gone solo.
Wood had already contributed to It's Only Rock'N'Roll, but his first public act with the band would be the 1975 United States tour. The shows featured a new format for the Stones with their usual act replaced by increasingly theatrical stage props and gimmicks, including a giant inflatable phallus and a cherry picker on which Jagger would soar out over the audience. This represented a further breakdown in Jagger and Richards' relationship —the pragmatic Richards considering it entirely superfluous and distracting from the music. Once again, Jagger was, if nothing else, shrewdly interpreting market trends. The mid-1970s were the era of extravagant stage shows from the likes of Queen and Elton John, and the band's tours were to become even more expensive and elaborate in the years to come.
The Rolling Stones, Black and Blue, 1976.Although the Rolling Stones remained hugely popular through the 1970s, music critics had grown increasingly dismissive of the band's output until the seminal late-1970s album Some Girls. Keith Richards would have more serious concerns in 1977: despite having spent much of the previous year undergoing a series of drug therapies to help withdraw from heroin, including (allegedly) having his blood filtered, and after a tip-off to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Richards and Pallenberg were arrested in a Toronto hotel room and charged with possession of heroin. The case would drag on for a year, with Richards eventually receiving a suspended sentence and ordered to play a concert for a local charity. This motivated a final, concerted attempt to end his drug habit, which proved largely successful. It also coincided with the end of his relationship with Anita Pallenberg, which had become increasingly strained since the tragic death of their third child (an infant son named Tara).
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 would end in 1977. By this time punk rock had become highly influential, and the Stones were increasingly criticized as being decadent, ageing millionaires and their music considered by many to be either stagnant or irrelevant. The Clash vocalist Joe Strummer even went so far as to declare "No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones" in their song "1977". What people did not realise at the time was that many punk bands idolised The Stones, Keith Richards in particular, and this does not seem surprising given the band's earlier rebellious image.
In 1978 the band recorded Some Girls, their most focused and successful album in years, despite the perceived misogyny of the title track. Jagger and Richards seemed to channel much of the personal turmoil surrounding them into renewed creative vitality. With the notable exception of the disco-influenced "Miss You" (a hit single and a live staple) and the droll, country-ballad "Far Away Eyes", the songs in this album were fast, basic guitar-driven rock and roll or impeccable ballads like "Beast of Burden" (which prominently features the Richards-Wood guitar-playing style, the ancient form of weaving), and the album was widely praised as both a Stones classic and a summation of late 1970s music trends. Emotional Rescue (1980) was in a similar vein, but lacked the redeeming features of its predecessor.
Tattoo You (1981), was composed partially by using new material and by using unused songs from earlier recording outings (the ballad "Waiting on a Friend" dated back to the Goats Head Soup sessions). It also featured the hugely popular single "Start Me Up," showing that Richards was still capable of writing monster guitar parts of the same calibre as ten or fifteen years earlier. Several songs on the album ("Slave", "Waiting on a Friend" and possibly "Neighbours") featured the prominent jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Tattoo You and the subsequent tour were major commercial successes.
In the summer of 1981 the band rehearsed for the Tattoo You tour at Studio Instrument Rentals located at West 52nd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, at the site of the former Cheetah Club. They spent two weeks in midnight to eight a.m. jam sessions. Ian Stewart and Bobby Keys were present with the other members of the band for the rehearsals. During this time the Stones recorded the music video 'Start Me Up' at the rehearsal studio number 1. They also recorded the 'Waiting For a Friend' video at the same time.
Mixed emotions: 1981–1999
Throughout the early 1980s the Jagger/Richards partnership continued to falter, and their records would suffer because of it. 1983's Undercover was widely seen as Jagger's attempt to make the Rolling Stones' sound more compatible with current musical trends. Despite initial critical enthusiasm (Rolling Stone gave the album four and a half stars), its slick production and violent political and sexual content were coolly received by fans, and it was poorly promoted; the band filmed the accompanying videos in Mexico solely to save money; worse, no tour was forthcoming. It was not without controversy (the video for Undercover of the Night was said to include real assassination footage from Latin America and the guilty-pleasure Too Much Blood was criticized for being inspired too closely by slasher films and imagery).
To make matters worse, Ron Wood was now suffering from his own growing drug habit. In 1982 Jagger had signed a major solo deal with the band's new label, CBS Records. This angered Richards, who saw it as a lack of commitment to the band. To add to the band's woes in 1985, road manager Ian Stewart died of a heart attack. It cannot be overstated how important the gentle, cool-headed pianist's contribution to the Rolling Stones had been, from driving the tour van in the early days to keeping the warring band members from each other's throats during some of their darker moments. Without his presence, the band could well have imploded countless times. They performed a tribute concert for Stewart which was their only live appearance during this time.
Indeed, Jagger was spending a great deal of time on his solo recordings, and much of the material on 1986's turgid Dirty Work was authored solely by Keith Richards. The album again sold poorly, and sales were probably hurt by Jagger's decision not to tour in support of it. A bright spot that year was when the Stones were awarded a Grammy for lifetime achievement, but by this point Jagger and Richards had begun openly criticizing each other in the press and many observers assumed the band had broken up.
Neither the quality nor the sales of Jagger's solo records (She's the Boss (1985) and Primitive Cool (1987)) lived up to expectations, but ironically, Richards' first solo record, Talk is Cheap (1988), which he had been reluctant to make because of his loyalty to the Stones, was well received by both fans and critics.
In 1989, after they had had time to cool off, Jagger and Richards appeared to bury the hatchet and re-focus on the recording of a new album which would eventually become 1989's Steel Wheels and the subsequent world tour. Widely heralded as a return to form, the album even included a song called "Continental Drift" which featured the musicians of the Morroccan mountain village of Joujouka, previously recorded by Brian Jones during the ill-fated 1967 trip to North Africa with Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg. 1989 also saw Stones, along with Ian Stewart, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1991 Bill Wyman finally left the band after years of deliberation and had published Stone Alone, a frank autobiography. After his departure, the band continued as a foursome. Charlie Watts was asked to choose a bass player, and he selected the respected session musician and Miles Davis and Sting sideman Darryl Jones, who appeared on Voodoo Lounge (1994) and played on the supporting tour. Bridges to Babylon (1997) featured another prolific bassist, Doug Wimbish, a journeyman session player and solo artist. Wimbish was offered the permanent position of bass player by the band, but declined in order to focus on his own material, and so did not play on the ensuing tour. Jones was brought back and has remained with the band since the Bridges tour. Both Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon were highly praised by fans and critics alike.
The Stones' song "Start Me Up" was used by Microsoft to launch their Windows 95 operating system. Some critics noted that the group who epitomised the way that rock and roll commercialised earlier rhythm and blues by delivering it to a global audience provided the soundtrack for the corporation which did the same with software. (Critics of Windows also noted the song's lyric "You make a grown man cry.")
The Rolling Stones had previously never licensed their music for commercial use. According to legend, Microsoft founder Bill Gates asked Jagger how much the rights to the song would cost; rather than refuse outright, Jagger replied with $13 million — a sum that he thought would self-evidently be outrageously high. However, Gates, immediately agreed to the amount.
The Verve's 1997 hit “Bittersweet Symphony” uses a small five-note sample from an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time”. After “Bittersweet Symphony” became a hit single, The Verve was sued by Allen Klein, who owns the copyrights to the Rolling Stones' pre-1970 songs. Klein claimed the Verve broke their licence agreement when they used a larger portion than was covered in the license.
The band handed over 100 percent of their songwriting royalties. They were then sued by Andrew Loog Oldham, who claimed to possess the copyright on the sampled sound recording.
Don't stop: 2000–present
In 2002, the Rolling Stones released Forty Licks, a greatest hits album that spanned their career, that contained four new songs. The same year, Q magazine named the Rolling Stones as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die". On July 30, 2003, the band headlined the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to help the city recover financially and psychologically from the effects of the 2003 SARS epidemic. It was attended by an estimated 490,000 people. On November 9, 2003, the band played its first ever concert in Hong Kong as part of the Harbour Fest celebration. In November of 2003 the band exclusively licensed the right to sell their new 4-DVD boxed set, Four Flicks, recorded on their most recent world tour, to the U.S Best Buy chain of stores. In response, other music retail chains (including Tower Records, Virgin Megastore and HMV) pulled all Rolling Stones CDs and related merchandise from their shelves and replaced them with signs explaining the situation.
Jagger and Richards worked on a new studio album in 2004 with producer Don Was at Jagger's residences in southern France and the Caribbean. Was said that the Stones would reconvene after the Christmas holidays and that the tracks recorded so far were significantly different to anything he had worked on with The Stones before. Charlie Watts later attended the sessions and was reported to be in excellent health after being treated for throat cancer.
On July 26, 2005, coinciding with Jagger's birthday, the band announced the name of their new album, A Bigger Bang, which was released September 6th to typically strong reviews, including a glowing write up in Rolling Stone magazine (often noted for its consistent support of the group). The album included perhaps the most controversial song from the Stones in years, "Sweet Neo Con", a criticism of American Neoconservatism from Jagger. The song was reportedly almost dropped from the album due to objections from Richards, who prefers to avoid music that's overtly political or topical, since such songs rarely stand the test of time.
On May 10, 2005 the Stones announced plans for another world tour starting on August 21st at Fenway Park in Boston. The tour is expected to include dates throughout the USA and Canada before going to South America, Asia and Europe. Launching the tour at the Julliard School in New York, Mick Jagger told reporters that it would not necessarily be their last.
The Rolling Stones, 2005.In the last few years, Toronto, Ontario has been chosen as a pre-tour venue for the Rolling Stones. They have played at smaller venues such as the Palais Royale and The Phoenix prior to the full tour. In the wake of the SARS outbreak, the Stones came to Toronto to host a relief concert. Toronto has become something of a headquarters for the Stones, and they are considered there Toronto's stepchild of rock and roll.
The group kicked off their Bigger Bang world tour 2005—2006 with two shows at the historic Fenway Park in Boston. The Stones' huge stage caused extensive damage to the outfield, so that approximately 40,000 square feet (4,000 m²) of sod had to be brought in to repair it, and a subsequent baseball game held at the park three days later had to be pushed back an hour to give the grounds crew more time to complete the repairs.
On February 1, 2006, the Stones played their first concert at the Baltimore Arena since 1969, possibly the smallest venue they have played or will play for the entire tour. On February 18, 2006, they will perform a free concert on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, where 1,000,000 spectators are expected. A special overpass is currently being constructed directly between the Copacabana Palace hotel, where they will be staying, and the stage across the street, to ensure their safe passage to and from the concert.
The group played during the half-time of Super Bowl XL. The show followed in the same vein as the Super Bowl XXXIX half-time show featuring Paul McCartney—a set of straight up rock hits.  The Stones are also taking part in creating promotions throughout the entire NFL season which feature music from their new album, "A Bigger Bang" and footage from their supporting world tour. Before performing "Satisfaction," Jagger made an uncharacteristic comment on their longevity: "We could have played this one at Superbowl One."
At the end of 2005, it was announced by tour producer Michael Cohl that the Stones A Bigger Bang tour had made a record-shattering $162 million since the tour opening at Fenway Park in Boston on the 21st of August. This breaks the previous North American record, held by the Stones themselves for their 1994 Voodoo Lounge tour, which grossed approximately $120 million. It should, however, be noted that the North American leg of the A Bigger Bang tour is far from finished; there are still a number of confirmed shows remaining. Also, ticket prices for the tour are rather high; they average about $200.00 USD for a single seat.
On February 6, 2006 the BBC news had an item about the Stones show at the Super Bowl having cut out the overtly sexual lyrics of their songs, apparently due to concerns of their sponsor that the public reaction might be similar to the outrage about a breast showing previously.
TheRollingStones-Music - All Rights Reserved Sylvain Dollé.
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