The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones first got together in 1962, with a lineup that included drummer Charlie Watts, guitarist Brian Jones and bassist Bill Wyman. Two of their most popular founding members, however, were guitarist Keith Richards and vocalist Mick Jagger. Their initial lineup also included pianist Ian Stewart, although he left his position as a permanent fixture and simply provided additional instrumentation from 1963 on.
The band also included other members over the years, such as guitarists Mick Taylor and Ronnie Woods, bassist Darryl Jones, and keyboardists Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, and Chuck Leavell. Richards and Jagger are generally considered the leaders of the band due to their continued presence in the lineup, their contributions as songwriters, and the sheer level of talent they brought to the Stones’ music since the earliest days of the band’s existence.
With their long hairstyles and R&B attitude, the band was considered to be at the forefront of counterculture in the 1960s. The band’s rock and roll was inspired by a number of blues musicians such as Muddy Waters (they are named after one of his songs), and Mick Jagger was known for singing without restraint. He became something of a sex icon in the world of rock and roll due to his notable stage presence and his psychedelic voice.
Much of the band’s early influence came from guitarist Brian Jones, although he left the band in 1969 and passed away soon after. He was responsible for both the band’s rebellious attitude and their blues influence. He played bottleneck guitar, but he also knew how to incorporate unique instruments into their sound. For instance, the 1966 album Aftermath included instruments such as the dulcimer, sitar, harpsichord and marimbas. Jones was also responsible for the band’s experimentation on this album. The hit song “Paint It Black” was inspired by Middle Eastern music, and the album also contained “Goin’ Home,” one of the band’s lengthier songs.
Other major hits by the Rolling Stones include “Get Off of My Cloud,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Wild Horses,” “Brown Sugar,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Start Me Up” and “Gimme Shelter.” Long after Jones had left the band, they continued to churn out singles that were wild yet innovative. For instance, “Honky Tonk Women” was built around a single chord, while “Gimme Shelter” utilized a much more complex chord pattern that still revolved around a suspended note. Keith Richards was instrumental in the success of these songs, also providing the major riffs on “The Last Time” and “Satisfaction,” not to mention his guitar solos on “It’s All Over Now” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Even the lesser-known members of the band such as Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman were integral to their style, adding a great deal to the band’s general sense of rhythm. They made it so that the Stones performed music that their fans could dance to. The Stones were also known for turning out a large number of albums in a short amount of time. The Rolling Stones (England’s Newest Hit Makers) and 12 X 5 were both released in 1964, while the following year would see the release of The Rolling Stones, Now! and Out of Our Heads, as well as December’s Children (And Everybody’s). They also released four great albums from 1968 to 1972: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St.
The Rolling Stones were successful at just about every turn during their early career, and their streak continued when they took on Billy Preston in their 1976 album Black and Blue. While they haven’t turned out many hits since the 1960s and 1970s, the remaining members of the band are still capable of manning a live performance with every bit as much energy as they used to. They’ve also gained a lot in the way of technical skill since then. It is rare that a band starts out strong and manages to only get better with time, but the Stones are one of the few rock bands to have pulled off precisely such a feat.
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