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The Rolling Stones: never too old to Rock and Roll

Coinciding with their ’50 & Counting’ tour and after 43 years of begging and anticipation, the Rolling Stones finally made their way to Glastonbury and ignited the stage as well as everyone’s television screens.

‘The world’s best band’ is the description most often applied to the Rolling Stones due to their sterling sound and pure authenticity – they are one of the very few bands remaining, who spend hours practicing before almost every show. It is therefore no surprise that their recent debut at Glastonbury attracted 2.6 million viewers on BBC2 alone, and around 1 million iPlayer requests. The festival has been growing ever since it’s launch in 1970 and today has reached astronomical popularity across all genders, cultures and ages, and one finally big enough for the Rolling Stones.

Formed in 1962, the Rolling Stones – Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, were part of the British Invasion, a group of British bands who grew in popularity so much that they tornadoed over to the US, and took the young people across the pond by storm. From the very beginning, they set their timelessness in stone by rooting themselves in traditional blues and soul. Even though it shares the same name, The Rolling Stone magazine listed the band as fourth out of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and they have seen themselves honoured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as UK’s Music Hall of Fame 15 years later.

Jagger and Richards met as childhood friends and later discovered Jones and Watts at the Ealing Jazz Club. Their name was inspired by Muddy Water’s song, hence they were initially called ‘The Rollin’ Stones‘ when they performed their first gig on 12 July 1962 at the Marquee Club in

London. The band furthered their popularity through an air seen as controversial at the time. With their ‘bad boy’ image, the Rolling Stones set themselves apart and above other bands in the 60s, including The Beatles. Their rebellious nature inspired a greater following, and the fact they had full control over their recordings rendered them more acute and credible.

Even with no promotion at gigs and only one advert, their first single went straight into the 21st position on the UK singles chart. However, because the song was a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Come On’, (as were the majority of their other songs), the Rolling Stones only earned their infamous widespread popularity in America after beginning to produce and write their own material. The latter related them to the young people at the time as songs such as ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ (which dealed with issues of prescription drug abuse) demonstrated a contemporary and frank outlook on modern life.

Ironically enough, the band members themselves were under constant scrutiny from the police for drug misconducts and were penalised much more harshly than any other young man would have been. The said charges even saw them being banned from playing in Japan and placed them under scrutiny from many other countries. However, instead of tarnishing the band’s image, the controversy gained them even more popularity and press. This, coupled with the release of the more updated ‘Some Girls‘ saw them survive Britain’s turn towards punk.

The Rolling Stones have undoubtedly always been ahead of their time – they were the first artist ever to broadcast a performance over the internet in 1994, and their ‘A Bigger Bang‘ tour earned them an enormous $558 million, placing them in the Guinness World Records – now you can’t get much bigger than that, can you?

Written by Alisa Milchevskaya

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