Entertainment | Celebrity

At 50, Rolling Stones are no flash in the pan

The band’s continued popularity is shown by the flurry of speculation about whether or not they would mark their anniversary with a gig

  • AFP
  • Published: 00:00 July 10, 2012
  • Tabloid

Rolling Stones
  • Image Credit: Rex Features
  • The boys pose in this 1963 studio shot.

Most London shoppers rush by 165 Oxford Street without a second glance — but it was here 50 years ago that The Rolling Stones played their first gig and changed the landscape of pop music forever.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones played The Marquee Club on July 12, 1962 with three others, the first time they performed under the band name which would become synonymous worldwide with excess and musical flair.

Childhood friends Jagger and Richards were aged just 18 at the time and Jones — who drowned in the swimming pool at his home in 1969 — was 20 years old.

But it was at the club – now a branch of Santander bank — that the seeds were sown of worldwide success which, half a century on, has seen the British band notch up over 200 million album sales globally.

Hits such as (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar are legendary rock favourites decades after topping the charts.

The band’s continued popularity, even though they are now pensioners aged in their sixties and seventies, is shown by the flurry of speculation about whether or not they would mark the anniversary with a gig.

Rolling Stone magazine — named after the same blues song which gave the band its name — reported last month that Jagger, Richards and their bandmates were considering at least one live concert this year to mark the anniversary.

But guitarist Richards has said there will be no full tour this year, despite the band rehearsing together for the first time in five years.

“Basically, we’re just not ready,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in March, adding that 2013 was a “more realistic” target for hitting the road.

Lead singer Jagger has taken to Twitter to deny that the band would stage a show to mark the London Olympics, which get under way on July 27.

“We are not playing the Olympics, but I’m looking forward to watching the games like everyone else!” he wrote last month.

The band has also denied recent reports that they will play one last concert together at next year’s Glastonbury festival, with a statement saying the date was “not in our plans”.

Diehard fans can look forward to an exhibition of photos of the band opening at London’s Somerset House on July 12, the anniversary of the first gig, which members of the band are expected to attend.

A new documentary covering the history of the band from that first concert to the present day is also being showcased in September.

The band’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment on whether any gigs would be held to mark the anniversary, or details of future tours.

The Stones have survived numerous personnel changes as well as an often strained relationship between songwriters Jagger and Richards, the core of the band.

This flared up again in 2010, when Richards’s colourful autobiography, Life, took several swipes at Jagger, particularly for accepting a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Richards, famed for his vast drug and alcohol intake in the band’s heyday, said he had nicknamed Jagger “Your Majesty” and insinuated that the strutting lead singer had a “tiny todger”.

Jagger’s ex-wife, the model Jerry Hall, later accused Richards of being “jealous”, telling BBC radio that Jagger was “very well endowed”.

Richards wrote in the book: “Sometimes I think, ‘I miss my friend.’ I wonder, ‘Where did he go?’”

Despite the obstacles, the band have continued to perform regularly over the years, although Richards nearly died when he fell from a coconut tree in Fiji in 2006 while touring the band’s last album, A Bigger Bang.

The band’s longevity can partly be attributed to their ability to absorb the evolving sounds of recent decades, with disco, reggae and punk influences all revealing themselves in later releases.

Few would bet against them entertaining millions more fans before their final encore.

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