February 7th, 1964, marks as one of most significant dates in Rock music history. On this day thousands of ecstatic Rock music fans gathered in New York at Kennedy Airport because UK band ‘the Beatles’ had just landed in America. According to Cohen (2016), ‘the Beatles’ were at the time the biggest rock band in the world and many expected them to be so for a long time. However, this notion was put to the test by; the Rolling Stones’. This band was the polar opposite of ‘the Beatles’ and as cited by Powell (2012), through the British invasion started with the latter arguably the rolling stones took over as the best rock band ever. The rolling stones introduced the first step towards the evolution of Roc music.
Rock music is said to be one of those genres of music that has seen the most evolution over the last half-century. Its rapid evolution is documented to have happened mainly in the 1950s and 1960s. As cited by Dick and Reisch (2011), in the 1950s the genre was good old rock n roll dominated by the white Americans and later had changed when the influence of ‘chitlin circuit’. Nevertheless, the greatest evolution in rock music history came in the 1960s through the British invasion started by the Beatles. As indicated by Cohen (2016), the Beatles took what Elvis, as well as other Rock n Roll 1950’s artists, created and transformed it into a whole new different thing. Hence, this era is known as one that gave birth to a new age of Rock. Nevertheless, this changes lasted a few years due to ‘The rolling stones’ a polar opposite to the Beatles.
The Rolling Stones
London, England 1962 saw the birth of world-famous UK band ‘the rolling stones’. The band initially consisted of six members namely lead vocalist Mick Jagger, guitar player, and backing vocalist Keith Richards, guitar player, and harmonica Brian Jones, bassist Bill Wyman, drummer Charlie Watts and pianist Ian Stewart. Ian Stewart was not featured in the after a year of their formation but toured with the band until his passing in 1985. Mick Taylor replaced Brian Jones in 1969 after he left the band for medical reasons a month before he passed away. Mick Taylor stayed with the band for another five years before he left. His departure gave way to current member Ronnie Wood who played the guitar in tandem with Keith Richards to date. The last member to leave the group was Bill Wyman who gave way to Darryl Jones. The band featured other keyboard touring artists through the years with Chuck Leavell remaining on duty since Ian Stewart passing. Brian Jones first led the rolling stones; however, Jagger and Richards replaced him after continued legal and personal troubles.
The Development Day
The Marquee Club in London played host to Jones, Jagger, Richards, Stewart, and Taylor in 1962. The gig at the time was billed as the “the Rollin’ Stones”. Shortly after their first appearance the band went on their first tour of the UK called the ‘training ground’. At the time, they played Chicago blues as well as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs. Their virtuoso in cover songs earned significant recognition and after the recruitment Wyman and Watts, the bad had found its original rhythm section. Continued tours and cover songs saw them rise to fame in the UK to a point two unscientific opinion polls ranked them as Britain’s most popular group in 1964, consequently outranking the Beatles. According to Booth (2014), the band’s skills were notable and only ranked behind the Beatles due to the fact that they were performing cover songs as the Beatles were recording their own original songs. The band continued with making cover songs as they discovered themselves and in 1964, their cover version of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” was ranked No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart. However, the refused to play it at live performances.
The rise of the rolling stones
Chuck Berry’s “Come On” by the band as an indication of greater things to come as it gave the band entree to play outside London, starting with a booking at the Outlook Club in Middlesbrough on 13 July, sharing the billing with the Hollies. The bands next single “I Wanna Be Your Man” was written and given to them by John Lennon and Paul McCartney visited them in the studio. According to Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Wood (2012) the two Beatle members identified the band’s dissimilarity to their version of performance and offered them the rights to the single. However, the Beatles had released their vision earlier in the same year, the rolling stones version of “I Wanna Be Your Man” ranked No. 12 on the UK charts. Higher than the previous version. This number was; however, challenged by the bands third single Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, itself based on Bo Diddley’s style. The cover song as ranked No. 3 in the UK charts after its release in 1964. This according to Booth (2014). was the turnaround for the band with then-manager Andrew Loog Oldham shifting the band’s attention to songwriting and not producing cover songs.
The US tour of 1964
Due to their fame in the UK and the fortunes of the Beatles in the US, the rolling stones made their first tour across the Atlantic in 1964. At the time, the band had no hit single of their own and looked rugged. A completely different look from the Beatles who wore suits. During their appearance on The Hollywood Palace, then guest host Dean Martin ridiculed their hair and performance. This according to Dick and Reisch (2011), was the beginning of the international fame for the band. The Beatles though different from the classic rock n roll in performance seemed similar to previous artists well groomed. The rolling stones seemed rebellious, energetic, and rugged. This appealed to the American youth who at the time was going through a metaphases of their own through drugs. The increased attention brought from the new fans led the band to a meeting with their biggest inspirations, including mentor Muddy Waters. It is from such meetings that the rolling stone got their first-ever No. 1 hit in the UK with the cover version of “It’s All Over Now” Bobby and Shirley Womack’s
The American Rock revolution
The “It’s All Over Now” cover song was a revolution to the US rock fans a factor earlier experienced by UK fans. The rolling stones were different in their presentation and gave an all different feel to older songs that became acceptable to the public. The band second UK album titled The Rolling Stones No. 2 released in 1965 was number 1 on the charts. The band took a different move and created a US version of the album titled The Rolling Stones, Now! It was ranked fifth on the US Top charts. The band also used Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles to record the Album. According to Dick and Reisch (2011), the US public felt that they were supporting homegrown talent and not a British band. It is at this point the Rolling stones became the number one rock band in the worlds. The US tour of The Rolling Stones, Now! Featured 34 fully booked concerts across the US; over 100,000 crowds in Australia and New Zealand as well as other trips in Europe including Germany and Netherlands. Later in the same year (1965), the band released “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, during their third North American tour. The song became their first international No. 1 hit that was followed by many other such as “Get Off of My Cloud.
The Rolling Stones initiated a different form of Rock music that was appealing to the masses across the world. They introduced what is termed today as modern rock and gave way to another version of the rock genres. Their indifference of performing cover songs, rugged looks, long hair, and energetic performances on and off concerts made them admired and unique a factor that saw them sell major hits across the globe through radios and concerts. It is currently, half a century after the band took to the stage at The Marquee Club in London, and they still perform to hundreds of thousands globally. The rolling stones are not the only hall of fame material but also revolutionists of the Rock genre to be remembered through time.
Booth, S. (2014). The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones. Chicago Review Press.
Cohen, R. (2016). The sun & the moon & the Rolling Stones. New York : Spiegel & Grau.
Dick, L., & Reisch, G. A. (2011). The Rolling Stones and philosophy: It’s just a thought away. Chicago: Open Court.
Jagger, M., Richards, K., Watts, C., & Wood, R. (2012). The Rolling Stones 50: With over 1,000 illustrations in colour and black and white. New York: Hyperion.
Powell, S. (2012). Quicklet on The Best Rolling Stones Songs: Lyrics and Analysis. Hyperink.