It’s hard to believe The Rolling Stones have been such a major part of our lives for as long as they have; and the quartet from London is still at it. Like the Beatles, Kinks and The Who, The Stones came to us in that infamous British invasion of 1964 and we still haven’t gotten off that cloud!
When it comes to bands, some are larger than life and the Stones are one of those bands. The stories are true: Jagger and Richards are childhood friends. They met on a train platform. Before they were The Rolling Stones, they were known as The Blues Boys. The current name was taken from the title of the Muddy Waters song “Rollin’ Stone.” In their formative years, Jagger and Richards listened not only to Muddy but Chuck Berry, Little Richards, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Didley. The then-young Brits loved those artists so much, you can still hear their influence in the Rolling Stones’ music.
Most of us have our favorite Stones album or song. There are the classic records Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers (which debuted their iconic logo), Some Girls and my personal favorite, Tattoo You. Then there’s the unreal list of songs we love: “Beast of Burden,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Shattered,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Under My Thumb,” “Start Me Up,” “Get Off of My Cloud,” “Brown Sugar,” “Emotional Rescue,” “Paint It Black,” “Hang Fire,” “Waiting on a Friend,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Too Much Blood,” “Miss You,” “She’s So Cold,” “Just My Imagination,” “Time Is On My Side” … the list goes on and on.
The Stones are one of those once-in-a-lifetime bands that do things their way … and that’s just the way we like them. As Richards once said, “If you’re going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet!” They have an infectious and wicked sense of humor, and we love them even more because of it.
That said, after more than a half century, the band has experienced everything life can throw at them. There are the significant squabbles, well-documented addiction issues, personal breakups, heartaches and health issues. Mix this with those everyday life issues and sprinkle it with unreal success and that’s life as a Rolling Stone.
Aside from the music, it’s the band members’ ability to deal with everyday issues that draws us closer. The fact that they’re deeply rooted in blues and good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll has enabled their music to pierce our souls.
Since the band formed in 1962, they’ve survived life as rock stars. Some issues were admittedly self-inflicted. Despite these challenges, the band has done it all. Their music has been featured in movies, they’ve had countless No. 1’s on the charts, Grammys, and they’ve put out 30 studio albums, 23 live albums and 120 singles, selling more than 250 million records worldwide.
Their greatest honor came in 1989 when they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Ranked as one of the best commercially successful bands ever, their top single remains their first No. 1 hit in the U.S.: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
About their music, Jagger once said, “We were very pop-orientated. We didn’t sit around listening to Muddy Waters; we listened to everything. In some ways it’s easy to write to order. … Keith and I got into the groove of writing those kinds of tunes; they were done in 10 minutes. I think we thought it was a bit of a laugh.” He added: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!”
Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there’s no better way to pay homage to the Stones than covering their music. Bands and artists that’ve covered them include Bowie, Johnny Cash, Devo, Ministry, Motorhead and Rage Against the Machine. Not too shaby!
Recently, Jagger had a health scare and heart surgery. He’s worked hard to overcome that and was cleared to go back on the road. With the energy of a man more than half his age, Jagger is back in front of the band, and they sound just as tight and electrifying as ever. With Jagger on mic, Richards entertains us on guitar and vocals, Ronnie Wood is on rhythm or lead guitar and bass while Charlie Watts is still killing the skins.
Since this is the Stones, we had to ask the question: What kind of impact have they had on Southern California? For that, we turned to 95.5. FM KLOS, which is celebrating its 50th year of broadcasting. Program Director Keith Cunningham tells us he has long admired the Stones’ accomplishments, longevity and ability to remain relevant in an ever-changing music world.
Cunningham went on to say the band’s impact goes beyond individual fans; they’ve touched entire families. Parents, kids and grandparents love this band. He explained that music is like a time machine, it can transport us to the best, worst and most surreal moments in our lives. For many, The Stones have become the soundtrack to their lives.
We also discussed with Cunningham the difficulty in measuring the impact of legendary bands. Instead of identifying who’s at the top of the totem pole, we discussed a more soulful approach:
(1) We recognized that there are a ton of bands that’ve made history.
(2) It’s bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin who are historic, no measurement required.
For Cunningham, The Stones are the latter of the two. Look for upcoming special programming from KLOS to celebrate the Stones return to SoCal.
There are few bands that have multi-generational appeal. It’s a rare thing when a parent can sing to their child “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and they sing it together! If you want to see living history, check out The Rolling Stones as they roll into town and play The Rose Bowl in Pasadena Aug. 22 on their “No Filter Tour.” If you haven’t seen them before, it’ll definitely be the experience of a lifetime.