It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but The Rolling Stones like it

By Gillian G. Gaar

There have been a lot of ups and downs over the course of The Rolling Stones’ five decades-long-plus career. Here are a few of the highlights.

1. A fateful (re-)meeting
Michael Jagger and Keith Richards first met at elementary school. By October 1961, they hadn’t seen each other in years, but Jagger caught Richards’ attention when both were on the same train going into London and Richards spied the records under Jagger’s arm: Chuck Berry’s “Rockin’ at the Hops” and “The Best of Muddy Waters.” “It was, always, all about records,” Richards said. “They were precious things.” Richards soon begins playing with Jagger’s group, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.

2. Another Stone emerges
On April 7, 1962, while attending a Blues Incorporated gig at the Ealing Club, Jagger and Richards are dazzled by the duo that performs during the break, Elmo & Paul. “Elmo” is guitarist Brian Jones. “He played ‘Dust My Broom,’ and it was electrifying,” Richards recalled. By May, they begin rehearsing with him.

3. The first show
The Rolling Stones perform in public for the first time at London’s Marquee club on July 12, 1962, with Jagger on vocals, Richards and Jones on guitar, Dick Taylor on bass, Ian Stewart on piano and Mick Avory on drums. The set list includes “Dust My Broom,” “Doing the Crawdaddy, and “Got My Mojo Working.”

Rolling Stones early publicity photo

Decked out in matching outfits and big smiles, this publicity photo showcases The Rolling Stones in their early days. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

4. The final drummer
The latter half of ’62 sees the band’s lineup in constant flux. By December, Bill Wyman joins on bass. Finally, Charlie Watts, whom the group has been pursuing for some time, becomes the drummer; his first show with the band is Jan. 14, 1963, at London’s Flamingo Jazz club. “For me, it was just another job offer, to be honest,” Watts said. “I was in three bands already when I joined The Rolling Stones.”

5. Getting a management team
Andrew Loog Oldham, most recently working for Brian Epstein, sees The Rolling Stones on April 28, 1963, at the band’s regular Sunday night session at the Crawdaddy Club, held at the Station Hotel in Richmond. Oldham had been looking for a project of his own, and eight days later, he and his partner, Eric Easton, sign a management contract with the band. Oldham’s brash style and flair for publicity will do much to enhance the band’s image. One of his first moves is to eject Ian Stewart from the group for looking “too normal,” though Stewart nonetheless continues to work for the Stones until his death.

6. A Beatle seals the deal
Dick Rowe, head of Decca’s A&R, had been kicking himself ever since that fateful day in 1962 when he failed to sign The Beatles. On May 10, 1963, Rowe serves as a judge at the Lancashire and Cheshire Beat Group Contest held in Liverpool. Beatle George Harrison is also a judge, and he advises Rowe to sign a group he’s just seen in Richmond: The Rolling Stones. Rowe doesn’t hesitate; he signs the group just four days later.

7. The first single
The Rolling Stones’ recording debut comes with the U.K. release of the single “Come On” on July 7, 1963. The bright, peppy song is one of Chuck Berry’s more obscure numbers, and it kicks off with the wail of Jones’ harmonica. The song peaks just outside the Top 20 at No. 21.

8. The TV debut
The Stones’ first TV appearance on the U.K. music show “Thank Your Lucky Stars” on July 7, 1963,wasn’t just notable because it was the first time the band was on television. It was also one of the few times they appeared in matching outfits — houndstooth checked jackets — as was the norm for pop groups at the time. Not that they pleased the public: “It is disgraceful that such long-haired louts as these should be allowed to appear on television,” one viewer groused.

9. Another Beatle boost
On Sept. 10, 1963, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had just left an awards luncheon and Oldham spots them. The Stones are having trouble coming up with a second single, Oldham confides. Lennon and McCartney offer to help, going with Oldham to the Stones’ rehearsal studio and playing the unfinished “I Wanna Be Your Man.” The Stones liked it, and to their astonishment, Lennon and McCartney finished it off right there. “It was a throwaway,” Lennon admitted. “We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?” This original by the hottest songwriting team of the year gives the Stones the band’s first Top 20 hit in the U.K.

10. A songwriting team is born
Oldham, anxious that the Stones cash in on the money to be made writing songs, insists that Jagger and Richards develop their compositional skills. Richards claims he and Jagger were locked in their kitchen by Oldham, saying he wouldn’t let them out until they’d written something; Jagger says it wasn’t that dramatic. But the two nonetheless strike up a partnership and are soon passing on songs to others: George Bean’s January 1964 single, “Will You Be My Lover Tonight”/ “It Should Be You” were both Jagger/Richards songs. Gene Pitney also released “That Girl Belongs To Yesterday” in January 1964 (other sources say December 1963 or March 1964.

Rolling Stones by Dezo Hoffman

The Rolling Stones’ first U.S. single was issued in 1964 — the same year this Dezo Hoffman photo was taken. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

11. The first U.S. single
London, the Stones’ U.S. label, releases “Not Fade Away”/“I Wanna Be Your Man” on March 6, 1964. The A-side lashes a Bo Diddley-beat to the Buddy Holly cover, complete with harmonica; the single peaks at No. 48.

12. The debut album
As with The Beatles, the Stones albums feature different songs in the U.K. and the US. In the U.K., “The Rolling Stones” is released in April and tops the charts; in the U.S., the album is released in May, and peaks at No. 11. The U.K. cover daringly features neither the group’s name nor the album title (which in this case were the same), while the U.S. bows to convention and adds the introductory line: “England’s Newest Hit Makers: The Rolling Stones.” There’s only one Jagger-Richards original (“Tell Me”), the rest of the album consists of blues and R&B covers.

13. The First U.S. Visit
The Stones’ first U.S. tour in June 1964 is a mixed success. They suffer innumerable put downs by host Dean Martin when they make their national TV debut on “The Hollywood Palace,” and audience attendance varies wildly. But there’s also a visit to the promised land on June 10 and 11 — Chess Studios in Chicago, home to many of their idols. Not only are the band’s members able to meet a few of those idols (including Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters), they also record a number of tracks.

14. The first U.K. No. 1 single
“It’s All Over Now,” the first song released from the Chess sessions, is issued as a single on June 26 in the U.K. The song was written by Bobby Womack for his group, The Valentinos, and the Stones turn in a rollicking treatment. The single is the band’s first to top the U.K. charts; in the U.S., it peaks at No. 26, possibly because some radio stations refused to play it due to the line “half-assed games.”

15. Jolting the “Jury”
The July 4 edition of the U.K. TV show “Juke Box Jury” featured all of The Stones on the panel. The show’s premise was judging new releases as a “hit” or a “miss,” and as Richards gleefully recalled, “We didn’t give a sh*t … We just trashed every record they played.” It solidified the group’s image as the bad boys of rock, in contrast to the cheeky, charming Beatles.

16. A cult classic
During their second tour of America, the Stones top the bill at the Teen Age Music International concerts — known as the “T.A.M.I. Show” — filmed Oct. 28 and 29 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The band is “petrified” at having to follow James Brown, but Marvin Gaye stops by their dressing room to bolster their nerves, and the band ends up acquitting itself nicely in a five-song set. The film was released at the end of the year, but it was not officially available until its 2010 release on DVD.

17. The House of Lords takes an interest
“The Rolling Stones No. 2,” arrives  in the U.K. only on Jan. 16, 1965. Generally, it’s not regarded as strong an album as the band’s first (though it still went to No. 1). What really captures attention is Oldham’s liner notes, which urge fans who don’t have money to buy the album to rob a blind man, adding “If you put in the boot, good.” The House of Lords discusses this “deliberate incitement to criminal action,” and Decca hastily recalls the album to issue  a kinder, gentler version.

18. The first classic song
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” becomes the quintessential Stones song, the single that makes them a major act, and one of the classic rock songs of all time. Richards comes up with song’s melody in his sleep and records it on cassette; it is completed during the band’s 1965 spring U.S. tour, and released in June in the U.S. and in August in the U.K. The single becomes an across-the-board smash and the band’s first to top the U.S. charts. The line “trying to make some girl” leads to censorship; it is cut from the band’s “Shindig” performance and some radio stations refuse to air the track.

19. The first No. 1 U.S. LP
Following the success of “Satisfaction,” the U.S. version of “Out of Our Heads,” released in July 1965, gives the Stones their first U.S. No. 1 album. The U.S. version has the singles “Satisfaction” and “The Last Time” and a live version of “I’m Alright” that originally appeared on the U.K. release “Got Live If You Want It!” It’s also the last Stones album to have so many covers.

20. Enter the psychedelic age
The Beatles introduce the sitar pop music with “Norwegian Wood.” Now, Jones plays it on “Paint It Black,” released in May 1966. Matched with a galloping drum beat from Watts, the song is a driving, hypnotic slice of raga rock that tops the U.S. and U.K. charts.

21. Jagger-Richards from start to finish
Though the U.S. and U.K. versions again differ, “Aftermath,” is the first Stones album that featured all Jagger-Richards originals. The U.S. version gets off to a bracing start with “Paint It Black” and shows the band’s growing musical diversity, particularly on the part of Jones, who adds marimba to the nasty “Under My Thumb” and plays an atmospheric dulcimer part on “Lady Jane.” The album reaches No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K.

22. Another single pushes the limits
The year 1967 gets off to a rocky start with the January release of “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” The lively number faces an immediate ban due to its “suggestive” lyric, with U.S. DJs opting to play the B-side, “Ruby Tuesday,” which reaches No. 1, while “Night” only reaches No. 55. (In the U.K., “Night” reaches No. 3). The trouble continues when the Stones appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Jan. 15 and are forced to change the lyric to “Let’s spend some time together,” Jagger mockingly rolling his eyes during the performance to convey his feelings about the matter.

23. The first drug busts
The bad news continues when police raid Keith Richards’ country home on Feb. 12, 1967. Jagger is charged with  possession, and Richards is charged with allowing drugs to be used in his home. In a separate case, Jones is arrested for drug possession on May 10. Richards and Jagger are convicted after a highly publicized trial, though Richards’ conviction is overturned, and Jagger’s original jail sentence is changed to probation. Jones pleads guilty and receives probation, as well.

24.  A ‘Majestic’ misstep?
In a year dominated by arrests and court appearances, the Stones find little time to make music. The psychedelic spirit of the times permeated “Their Satanic Majesties Request” (released in December 1967), from the cover shot — a specially processed 3-D portrait that cost £15,000 — to the music, which was noticeably lacking in the band’s trademark gritty blues. None of the band members have much good to say about it today. As Watts puts it, “It wasn’t one of our great records, although it was a very interesting time.”

25. Jumpin’ back in
“When you get a riff like ‘Flash,’ you get a great feeling of elation, a wicked glee,” Richards says of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released as a single in May 1968 in the U.K., June in the U.S. The vibrant sound was due in part to Richards’ “big discovery” of the open five-string guitar tuning, which, he says, “transformed my life.” After the doldrums of 1967, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” gives the band a much-needed hit. It reaches No. 3 in the U.S., and tops the U.K. charts.

26. Circus Masters
With a few promotional films (the forerunners of video) under their belt, The Stones decide to make a TV concert film in the festive setting of a circus. “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus,” recorded Dec. 11 and 12, 1968, featured Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull and The Who, as well as the Stones. There was also a remarkable super group, The Dirty Mac, with Richards, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell (and, on one track, Yoko Ono and violinist Ivry Gitlis). The Stones were unhappy with their performance, so the show never aired; it was finally released on video in 1996.

27. Jones leaves the Stones
Jones has become increasingly peripheral to the Stones; Richards says that occasionally, bandmates pull out the plug on his amp in the studio. Jones’ drug conviction also makes touring more difficult. Weeks after Jones’ last appearance with the band — a May 12, 1969, date at the New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert — the rest of the Stones inform Jones that he’s out of the group he co-founded, though the initial press release says he’d resigned due to “musical differences.” The Stones are already recording with Jones’ replacement, Mick Taylor, who’d assumed his appearance on “Honky Tonk Women” was merely session work. To Taylor’s surprise, he’s asked to join the band.

28. A mysterious death
Shortly after midnight on July 3, 1969, Jones is found dead in his swimming pool at his country home. Though the official verdict is “death by misadventure” (drowning due to the use of drugs and/or alcohol), theories of something more sinister remain in circulation. Police review the case in 2009, but ultimately decline to reopen it. The Stones’ free concert in London’s Hyde Park, set for July 5 as Taylor’s first show with the band,  becomes a memorial to Jones. Jagger reads lines from Percy Shelley’s “Adonais,” and hundreds of white butterflies are released into the air.

29. The end of the ’60s dream
The high ticket prices on the band’s fall U.S. tour draw criticism. “Can the Rolling Stones really need all that money?” Ralph Gleason writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. “It says they despise their audience.” In response, The Stones announce the final date would be a free show on Dec. 6, 1969. When the original location, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, falls through, the event is moved to the Altamont Raceway, 40 miles outside of San Francisco. The good vibes of the recent Woodstock festival are noticeably absent: the sound is poor, the show runs late and after sunset, “a Dante’s hell began to stir,” according to Richards. Hell’s Angels, ostensibly providing security, attack the crowd with pool cues, knock Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin unconscious and, most infamously, stab Meredith Hunter to death during the Stones’ set after Hunter brandishes a gun. The whole incident is featured in the 1970 documentary “Gimme Shelter.” More than 40 decades later, it’s still chilling viewing.

Rolling Stones logo by John Pasche

The Rolling Stones’ iconic lips and tongue logo was created in 1970 by London art student John Pasche. It was inspired by band member Mick Jagger. The original artwork (shown) was sold for £50,000 in 2008.

30. Lapping it up
In the spring of 1970, John Pasche, a student at London’s Royal College of Art, is asked to create a logo for the Stones to use on posters for their upcoming tour. But the image Pasche creates — a large pair of red lips with a lurid tongue sticking out (inspired by Jagger’s own lips) — sticks around a lot longer than that. It becomes the logo most strongly identified with the band. Pasche receives £50 pounds for the design and an additional £200 in 1972 “in recognition of the logo’s success.” In 2008, Pasche sells the original artwork to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for £50,000.

31. Mick in “Performance”
The Stones never make a rock film à la The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.” But Jagger stars in the intriguing “Performance,” cast as a jaded rock star trading identities with a ruthless criminal (James Fox). Jones’ ex- (and Richards’ current girlfriend) Anita Pallenberg appears in the film as one of Jagger’s girlfriends, leading to rumors of an affair (which Richards confirms and Pallenberg denies). Though filmed in 1968, producers are dismayed at its dark experimentalism and all the nudity, so it isn’t released for another two years. It quickly gains a cult following. Now considered a classic, “Performance” remains Jagger’s best work in a film.

32. Trying to beat the bootleggers
In early 1970, Rolling Stone gives a rave review to the Stones’ live album “LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be,” calling it “the most musically exciting record I have heard all year.” There’s just one problem: It isn’t an official release, but a bootleg of a Nov. 9, 1969, date in Oakland. This pushes the band to getting its own live album on the market; “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” releases in September 1970 (mostly drawn from shows at Madison Square Garden). It, too, gets a rave from Rolling Stone — Lester Bangs writes “I have no doubt that it’s the best rock concert ever put on record” — reaches No. 6 U.S./No. 1 U.K., and is still considered one of rock’s best live albums.

33. Gettin’ “Sticky” with it
The Stones put a lot of effort into making “Sticky Fingers,” on the band’s own Rolling Stones Records label, something special. The cover, designed by Andy Warhol, is a close-up shot of a pair of jeans filled out by actor Joe Dellesandro, complete with a zipper. The album opens with the classic rocker “Brown Sugar” (partly inspired by Jagger’s girlfriend, Marsha Hunt) and also features “Wild Horses” and “Sister Morphine” (originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull, who co-wrote the song). Released in April 1971, “Sticky Fingers” kicks off a remarkable string of No. 1 U.S. hits for the Stones; every studio album from “Sticky Fingers” to 1981’s “Tattoo You” tops the U.S. charts.

34. A jet-setter’s wedding
Jagger doesn’t want his wedding to Bianca De Macias to become “a circus” — but he decides to hold the ceremony in the celebrity hot spot of Saint-Tropez and fly in guests like Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and the Queen’s cousin, Lord Litchfield, on 24 hours’ notice. Photographers and film crews dog the couple during both the civil and church ceremonies, and Richards passes out during the reception. As Bianca Jagger later put it, the couple’s marriage ended on the wedding day — though it didn’t officially end until 1980.

35. A classic “Exile”
In 1970, the Stones found, to their surprise, their taxes hadn’t been paid. In order to avoid being buried under a mountain of debt, they become tax exiles and move to France in 1971. A mobile recording unit is set up in Richards’ home, Nellcôte, outside of Nice, and work on “Exile on Main Street” begins (it is completed in L.A.  and released in May 1972). For some, a double album is an indulgence, but the Stones use all that space to craft a compelling record, from “Rocks Off” to “Soul Survivor,” not forgetting “Tumbling Dice” and “Shine A Light” along the way. “The Stones had reached a point where we no longer had to do what we were told to do,” says Richards. Instead, they do what they want, with terrific results.

36. The STP tour
The STP (Stones Touring Party) summer tour of the U.S. and Canada in 1972 reaffirms that the Stones are one of the biggest live draws in the world. Truman Capote, ostensibly covering the tour for Rolling Stone (the article was never finished) adds a touch of celebrity chic, as does the closing night party, which attracts Andy Warhol and Tennessee Williams. But the tour became most notorious for the accompanying documentary, “C*cksucker Blues,” which captures sex and drugs on full display — rock ’n’ roll less so. The film finally debuts at the Whitney Museum of American Art in September 1980 and is only allowed to be publicly screened if director Robert Frank is in attendance.

Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts

The Rolling Stones are all smiles in this band photograph, signed by Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman in black felt-tip pen. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity, it sold for $596 via Heritage Auction Galleries.

37. Taylor leaves, Woody arrives
In late 1974, Taylor announces he is leaving The Rolling Stones, partly due to his frustration over insufficient songwriting credit for his work. For many, the 1969-1974 period was the band’s prime as a live act. After holding auditions, The Stones finally select Ron “Woody” Wood of The Faces as Taylor’s replacement. Wood’s been in the band ever since, providing the perfect foil for Richards. “I have been lucky to play with Ronnie, because he is one of the most sympathetic players I know,” Richards has said.

38. Up against it
The Stones announce the summer ’75 U.S. tour in a typically flamboyant style, playing “Brown Sugar” on the back of a flatbed truck as it drives down Fifth Avenue in New York City. The tour begins June 1 and runs into immediate controversy because of the large, inflatable phallus that’s unleashed during “Star Star” (as “Starf*cker” has been politely renamed). San Antonio police threaten arrest if the prop is used, and the Stones acquiesce. Authorities in Memphis threaten the same, but this time, the Stones don’t back down; as Jagger puts it, “The c*ck has now reached minimal proportions.”

39. Calamity in Canada
Richards has been busted for drugs before. But his arrest in Toronto on Feb. 27, 1977, is the most serious, for he is not only charged with heroin possession, but also with trafficking — which could result in a life sentence. The case drags on for another year and a half, but the trafficking charge is ultimately dropped. Richards receives probation and arranges for the Stones to perform a benefit concert. The most positive outcome is the requirement is that Richards continue drug treatment, with the happy result that he eventually gets off heroin for good.

40. Not just another “Girl”
“No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones!” The Clash sings in “1977.” But even the punk explosion can’t keep the Stones from the top of the charts when “Some Girls” makes its bow in June 1978. Even the disco-influenced “Miss You” — the album’s first single — reaches No. 1. It’s a potent, taut album that’s in turn as danceable as disco and as vitriolic as punk. There is controversy over the title track, with its blunt observation “Black girls just want to get f*cked all night long,” though the matter is put into perspective by Garrett Morris in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, in which he demands, “I have one thing to say to you Mr. Mick Jagger. Where are these women?”

Rolling Stones Tattoo You41. The last No. 1 album — for now
“Tattoo You,” released in August 1981, is the last Stones album to top the U.S. charts. It’s also the Stones album that remains on top longest, holding the No. 1 position for nine weeks. It’s ironic, as the album was really a patchwork, drawing on songs from as far back as 1972, cobbled together so the band would have a new album to promote on the 1981/1982 tours. The first single, “Start Me Up,” was the band’s last Top 10 U.K. hit. It becomes the first song the Stones allow to be used in an ad, for the Microsoft Windows 95 campaign. It later is used in a car commercial for Ford.

42. Stones à la carte at Live Aid
The Stones turn down the opportunity to perform at the landmark Live Aid shows on July 13, 1985; Keith Richards even claims the band has broken up, though, actually, the bandmates were working on the “Dirty Work” album at time. Instead, Live Aid sees Jagger make his solo debut at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, in a four-song set that has him getting down with Tina Turner during a closing medley of “State of Shock”/“It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It).” Richards and Wood play with Bob Dylan during his set.

43. The Rock Hall Induction
You might not guess it from all the articles on the subject, but there are some acts on whom everyone agrees should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and The Rolling Stones are certainly in that category. The Stones join the Rock Hall on Jan. 18, 1989, alongside Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Otis Redding and Dion. “It’s slightly ironic that tonight you see us and we’re all on our best behavior, but we’re being awarded for 25 years of bad behavior,” Jagger jokes in his speech at the event. The ceremony signals a thaw in relations between Jagger and Richards, who have been working on solo albums. The Stones begin on the band’s first studio album in three years, “Steel Wheels,” which is released in August 1989.

Rolling Stones 1994

The Rolling Stones have officially been a four-piece outfit since the early 1990s, after Bill Wyman retired from touring with the band. Rumors persist that Wyman may return for anniversary shows in 2013.

44. Another departure
When Bill Wyman walked offstage after the Stones’ Aug. 25, 1990, show at Wembley Stadium, no one knew it was his last gig with the band he’d helped to found. In early 1991, Wyman tells the other Stones he is planning to leave, but the decision isn’t made public until Wyman announces it during a TV interview in January 1993. “I really don’t want to do it anymore,” Wyman explains. “I thought the last two tours with [the Stones] were the best we have ever done, so I was quite happy to stop after that.” The number of original Stones is now down to three, though Wyman is rumored to be considering a return to the band for anniversary shows in 2013.

45. A Stones album finally
gets a Grammy
“Voodoo Lounge,” released in July 1994, is the Stones’ 22nd U.S. studio album (the 20th studio album in the U.K.), a Top 5 hit (No. 2 U.S., No. 1 U.K.). It produces the hit singles “Love Is Strong,” “You Got Me Rocking,” “Out of Tears” and “I Go Wild” (stronger hits in the U.K.; the U.S. singles perform better on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart than the Top 40) — and the first Stones record to win a Grammy, getting the Best Rock Album honor in 1995. (The Stones received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.) Reviews credited producer Don Was with taking the group back to its trademark sound, though Jagger has more mixed feelings about how Was “…steered us away from groove songs, African influences and things like that … I think it was a mistake.” Was nonetheless goes on to produce the band’s next two studio albums.

46. Sir Mick
On Dec. 12, 2003, Michael Phillip Jagger becomes a Knight Bachelor, for his “services to music.” The honor doesn’t provoke the uproar that occurred when The Beatles received their MBEs (Member of the British Empire honors) in 1965 — but it does irk Richards. “I told Mick it’s a paltry honor,” he groused to “Uncut” magazine. “It’s not what the Stones is about, is it?” Jagger attributes Richards’ remarks to jealousy. But some fans are dismayed at seeing the one-time rebel now a firm member of the establishment, forgetting that Jagger’s roots were always solidly middle class. Since Jagger’s “services to music” were largely due to his work with the Stones, it’s curious no other Stone has been considered for the honor.

47. “Bang”-ing on and on
“A Bigger Bang,” released in September 2005, is the last Stones studio album released to date, reaching No. 3 U.S., No. 2 U.K. There is some controversy over the song “Sweet Neo Con,” an attack on conservative politicians, but as the song is never released as a single or played much in concert, there is no Dixie Chicks-styled outcry. In fact, the subsequent Bigger Bang Tour, which begins in August 2005 and ends two years later, is both the Stones’ most successful to date and the most successful rock tour of all time. The band earns $558 million and plays before more than 4.5 million people.

48. The Super Bowl show
The Stones had experienced censorship throughout the band’s career, and the Feb. 5, 2006, appearance at the Super Bowl is no different. Network censors blank out lyrics from “Start Me Up” and “Rough Justice” on the grounds that they are too suggestive. The NFL says the Stones knew about the censorship, but the band feels the move was “absolutely ridiculous and completely unnecessary.” The band’s set closed with the sometimes troublesome “Satisfaction” — which was not censored.

49. Out of his tree
When Richards falls out of a tree while on holiday in Fiji in April 2006, it’s an incident tailor-made for jokey headlines. What isn’t immediately revealed is how serious the accident really is. Richards himself thinks nothing is wrong after his tumble, but within two days, headaches send him to the hospital, where he learns that he’s fractured his skull. Left untreated, the injury could have led to his death. “It’s not the first brush with death I’ve had,” a fully recovered Richards later says. “I guess what I learned is, don’t sit in trees anymore.”

50. Back from ‘Exile’
It’s not unusual for an album that’s reached No. 1 to drop out of that position and then reattain it — although it usually happens within a few weeks, not 37 years. But such was the case in the U.K., when a remastered edition of “Exile on Main Street,” released in May 2010 again tops the charts. In the U.S., it reaches No. 2, while the separate edition of the album’s bonus tracks, “Exile on Main Street (Rarities Edition),” makes it into the Top 30 and serves as a clear sign of staying power of The Rolling Stones — creating music that is built to last.

Leave a Reply