July 12th 2012 was a very special day in the music world, as it signified The Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary. A truly amazing feat considering the copious amount of drugs and alcohol the band has consumed. In-fact it’s amazing that four of the five original members are alive, and that three of the five are still touring to this day. The Rolling Stones have survived so much, and I believe that it is necessary I pay homage to these legends. Instead of giving you biographical mumbo-jumbo I think it would be more fitting to explain what The Stones mean to Rock and Roll.
When Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts got in the room for the first time I’m sure they never thought that they’d have a 50 year run. More importantly I don’t think they knew the impact that they would have on music forever. If you look at many of the top musicians like Slash, Joe Perry, and many others they will tell you how important they were to their own development as musicians.
One of the things people forget about The Stones is that they are communicators, not only of their own music, but of past music. You can’t listen to a Jagger/ Richards composition without hearing it’s deep roots in blues. You can’t help but hear legends like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Scotty Moore coming through in Richard’s playing. You also can’t help but realize the Mississippi Delta musicians whom Jagger modeled his vocal approach after. They took what was, and then added a new layer to it, thus making it their own. Jagger and Richards also set into notion the song writing team, this was later utilized by Led Zeppelin in the form of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and later in Aerosmith by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
Along with being tremendous innovators and musicians, The Stones defined what it meant to be a ‘Rock-Star’ and took it to the nth degree. They took excess and indulgence to another level, one only reached by few without dying first. No one will ever forget the stories of Jagger and Richards antics especially in the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of the stories that sticks out to me is the stories that come out of the recording of the 1972 classic, Exile on Main Street which was recorded at Villa Nellcôte a home rented by Richards, and was the launching pad for many notorious parties.
It is important to recognize The Stones, as they did it first. They took the blues, and took it to the next level. They defined the definition of ‘Rock-Star.’ And they did this all in the name of the one thing they loved more than anything else, Rock and Roll.