Initially going under the name Rollin’ Stones, the band’s original line-up consisted of Brian Jones, Tony Chapman, Ian Stewart, Dick Taylor, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, playing their first live gig under this name at the Marquee Club in London in 1962. Shortly after Chapman and Taylor Taylor both left the band, being replaced by Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman.
Recruiting Manager, Andrew Oldham, the Rollin’ Stones became the now legendary Rolling Stones and their first single followed shortly after - “Come On” written and previously released by Chuck Berry giving the band their first Top 50 UK hit (reaching No.2 in the charts).
Their follow up single “I Wanna Be Your Man” was actually written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and gifted to the band (including the copyright) although The Beatles did also include the song on the “With The Beatles” LP. The Lennon and McCartney song just missed out on the Top 10 peaking at No.12 in the UK singles chart.
1963 saw the Rolling Stones become a 5-piece ensemble following the departure of Ian Stewart with Stewart retaining his links with the band becoming tour manager and session musician.
Further releases saw them cover other songs including the Womack and Womack composition “It’s All Over Now” which became The Stones’ first UK No.1 single and their classic rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”. In fact, their first two UK studio albums “Rolling Stones” and “Rolling Stones No.2” actually only featured two original songs written by Jagger and Richards.
Unlike The Beatles, The Rolling Stones were portrayed as hard living rebels with their drinking and drug taking exploits hitting the headlines as well as their music (ironically although living similar lifestyles The Beatles were rewarded with MBE’s whilst The Rolling Stones were berated for their debauchery). In spite of their opposite press, The Rolling Stones were signed by label Decca who had rejected The Beatles.
1965 and The Rolling Stones finally get a No.1 single with the release of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Not appearing on the UK release of their album “Out of Our Heads” the song initially went to the top spot in the US, with only limited play in the UK due to the controversial lyrics before finally reaching No.1 in the UK singles chart in September 1965. “Get Off Of My Cloud” followed, again from a US album release “December’s Children (and Everybody’s)”. Now more confident and enjoying the control they had by writing their own material, the band began steering a new course away from covers and into their own original compositions. The release of The Rolling Stones record “Aftermath” saw all tracks written by Jagger and Richards and included classic tracks “Paint It Black” (in the US) and “Under My Thumb”.
However, following this success The Rolling Stones popularity plateaued - their rock style not quite in keeping with the “free-love” ethos of the 1960s. The 1967 release “Their Satanic Majesties Request” reached just 23 on the UK album charts.
Brian Jones’ drug taking and personal issues saw his place in The Rolling Stones being taken by Mick Taylor and the 1968 release of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” saw the group back at their very best with the single giving the band another UK No.1 and the associated album “Beggars Banquet” peaking at the No.3 spot. The same LP featured an all-time classic from The Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" regarded by many critics and fans alike as one of their greatest songs.
The next few years saw The Stones at their very best. The “Let It Bleed” LP was released in 1969 giving them another chart topping record. Sadly 1969 also saw the passing of Rolling Stones founder, Brian Jones, who unfortunately became another member of the so called “27 Club”. Ironically it was also the same day that The Rolling Stones released their best selling single “Honky Tonk Woman” which they had started when Jones was still a band member but was finished after he left.
The legendary and iconic Rolling Stones logo of the big lips and tongue was introduced in 1971 and has featured ever since. Designed by John Pasche, who went on to work with a host of other rock stars from Paul McCartney to The Stranglers, the symbol has long been associated with the band and their enigmatic front man, Mick Jagger.
Three further No.1 LPs followed with the release of “Sticky Fingers” in 1971 “Exile on Main Street” the following year and the 1973 album “Goats Head Soup” featuring the legendary blues vocals of Jagger on the single “Angie”.
Mick Taylor was the next member of the band to leave in 1974 to be replaced by Ronnie Wood who had previously played in Faces, The Birds and The Jeff Beck Group. In 1976 this line-up released their first studio album “Black and Blue” and followed it up with the 1978 LP “Some Girls”.
Another decade and more albums followed. The Eighties saw The Rolling Stone record the now classic “Emotional Rescue”, “Tattoo You” and “Undercover”. Live dates also followed with the UK Urban Jungle tour proving the longevity and popularity of the band. It was also to be the last live tour with Bill Wyman before he too decided to leave 1993 in order to pursue solo projects.
Fuelled by tensions within the band, various solo projects were undertaken seeing Mick Jagger team up with David Bowie in 1985 to release “Dancing In The Streets” for Live Aid. The single went to No.1 in the UK with the video being played during the Wembley concert.
The re-release of “Goats Head Soup” in 2020 and with some copies also including the bonus of “The Brussels Affair” record (their legendary live performance from 1973) the album again reached No.1 meaning The Rolling Stones were the first band to top the UK charts in 6 different decades.
The lockdown during the COVID pandemic saw The Rolling Stones revisit a 1974 song releasing “Scarlet” (featuring Jimmy Page on guitar) as a single alongside a new composition “Living In A Ghost Town”.
The popularity and durability of The Rolling Stones have seen them bestowed with many accolades including being the first band to appear on “Top of the Pops” on New Years Day 1964; they have been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the GRAMMY’s in 1986 and two GRAMMY’s in 1994 with “Voodoo Lounge” being voted Best Rock Album and “Love Is Strong” Best Short Form Music Video; 1989 saw The Rolling Stones inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2003 Mick Jagger was knighted (something that did not go down well with Keith Richards his co-writer who was not afforded the honour).
Sadly, drumming legend Charlie Watts, died in August 2021.
So how popular are The Rolling Stones? How many records have they sold? Well, since their inception in 1962 they have made over 40 albums, released over 100 singles and sold over 240 million albums!!