From their early days as Blues-obsessed Londoners at the forefront of the British Invasion to their current status as living legends and a top draw on the arena circuit, the Rolling Stones – a.k.a. “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band – have proved one of the most influential and enduring bands in Rock.
The Stones began their recording career in 1963 as just one of a legion of young British bands enamored with American Blues and R&B. Although they possessed a charismatic frontman in Mick Jagger, a punchy guitar tandem in Keith Richards and Brian Jones, and a solid, swinging rhythm section in bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, their early releases showed them to be capable but unexceptional interpreters of material by their American roots idols.
It wasn't until Jagger and Richards began writing original songs the following year – at the insistence of their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham — that the Stones emerged as a creative unit that could stake a serious claim to the Beatles/Stones rivalry that was always raging among fans — and to the outlaw image the band had already cultivated. In the summer of 1964, the Rolling Stones released their first self-penned U.S. single, "Tell Me," which also became its first stateside Top 40 hit. It was followed by such increasingly ambitious Jagger/Richards hits as "The Last Time," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Get Off My Cloud," "19th Nervous Breakdown," "As Tears Go By," "Paint It, Black" and "Ruby Tuesday." In 1966, the Stones met the challenge of the Beatles' adventurous LPs with Aftermath, their first album of all original compositions.
In June 1969, Jones — the Stones' original mastermind and most serious Blues acolyte, who had lately taken up a variety of exotic instruments to expand the band's sound — was squeezed out of the band that he founded. He drowned in his home's swimming pool soon after. The Stones continued with new guitarist Mick Taylor, and entered what is widely regarded as their most fruitful period – and, in fact, one of the most fruitful periods for any Rock band ever. The late 60s and early 70s albums Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and the double LP Exile on Main St. boasted some of the band's toughest, darkest, and most enduring music, burnishing the Stones' outlaw credentials while tapping into the dark side of 60s counterculturalism. They contain scores of songs that are considered Rock and Roll classics, among them “Midnight Rambler,” “Brown Sugar,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Honky Tonk Women,” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Ex-Faces member Ron Wood replaced Taylor in 1976. Two years later, Some Girls found the band drawing inspiration from the then-current Punk and Disco movements, and spawned the hits “Miss You,” “Shattered,” and “Beast of Burden.” Many longtime admirers regard it as the last essential Stones album, but the band has maintained its legendary status and continued to record and tour prolifically in the decades since. Original bassist Bill Wyman left in 1991; on subsequent tours he’s been replaced by bassist Daryll Jones. Each of those tours has inevitably been greeted by speculation that it will be the band’s last, but the band carries on – most recently with 2013’s highly successful “Fifty and Counting” tour, which celebrated the band’s 50th year.