The Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones

Biography

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in Dartford, Kent in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of band leader Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), and Charlie Watts (drums). The Rolling Stones were in the vanguard of the British Invasion of the US in 1964 and 1965. Initially infamous for the long hair of its members as much as their music, the band is identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. They made blues a major part of rock and roll, and popularised, worldwide, the grass roots blues typified by Chess Records artists. These included Muddy Waters, writer of "Rollin' Stone", the song that inspired Jones to name the band. Their first single, "Come On" was released on June 1963 and reached number 21 in the UK hit parade.

After seven successful albums, a period of musical experimentation culminated in the poorly received and largely psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967). But the group returned to their blues roots with Beggars' Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), and Exile on Main St. (1972) which are considered to be the band's best work from their "Golden Age". Musicologist Robert Palmer attributed the "remarkable endurance" of the Rolling Stones to being "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music" while "more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone".

Jones first led the band, but drugs caused his demise so the band's songwriters, Jagger and Richards, became de facto leaders. Jones left the band a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who left in 1975. Since then Ronnie Wood has played guitar along with Keith Richards. Following Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has been the main bassist. Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued as occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Other notable keyboardists include Nicky Hopkins, active from 1967 to 1982; Billy Preston, through the mid 1970s (most prominent on Black and Blue); and Chuck Leavell, active since 1982.

The Rolling Stones continued to release hit singles and albums through the 1970s, Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981) being their two most sold albums worldwide. In the 1980s, a feud between Jagger and Richards about the band's musical direction was patched up and the band made a come back with the hit album, Steel Wheels (1989). In the band's tradition the album was supported by big stadium and arena tours, a tradition continued through the 1990s and 2000s. During this period the band made the four highest-grossing concert tours to date: Voodoo Lounge Tour (1994-95), Bridges to Babylon Tour (1997-99), Licks Tour (2002-03), A Bigger Bang Tour (2005-07).

The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list, and their estimated album sales are above 250 million. They have released twenty-nine studio albums, eighteen live albums and numerous compilations. Let It Bleed (1969) was their first of five consecutive number one studio and Live albums in the UK. Sticky Fingers (1971) was the first of eight consecutive number one studio albums in the US. In 2008 the band ranked 10th on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists" chart. In 2012, the band celebrated their 50th anniversary.

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