There's a vampire playing guitar, zombies on the drums and bass, a wild furry animal playing the other guitar, and a savage howling the vocals. If you were a parent in the 1960s, this may well have been your view of London's notorious Rolling Stones. If you were a teen, however, you would have seen freedom— freedom from school, work, and parents. You would have felt empowered to miss a haircut, to wear your pants tight, or to dance with someone. For many teens, the Rolling Stones brought an alternative to the monotony of middle-class life.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts were just a group of middle-class English boys who loved American rock and roll and blues, and knew for certain they were not made for the nine-to-five life. While they went on to become millionaires, the teens at the time felt that they could relate to the Rolling Stones. The Stones were the new spokesmen for youth culture.
Parents, politicians, priests, the police, and even other rockers saw things a little differently. The Stones rubbed anyone over thirty the wrong way. Glyn Johns, an engineer who frequently worked with the band, said, “It was just their appearance, their clothes, their hair, their whole attitude was immediately obvious to you as soon as you saw them playing. It was just a complete ‘pppprt’ to society and everybody and anything.” Their early shows almost routinely turned into riots. They were banned from concert halls, thrown out of hotels, and asked not to return to restaurants. Through it all, however, a strange thing started to happen. The Rolling Stones, Jagger and Richards in particular, found themselves strengthening as songwriters and artists, and they eventually achieved levels of popularity and respectability reserved for society's most beloved entertainers. Explosions of youth energy and frustration powered the Stones to the top of the charts. Talent and intelligence kept them there and allowed them to become the elder statesmen of rock. They have even surpassed their spiritual brothers, the Beatles, by staying together over thirty-one years after the Beatles called it quits.
The Rolling Stones have been playing it hard and loud for forty years and still don't seem to know how to stop. Rising during the British pop invasion, they have weathered the storms of popular culture like no act in history. The Stones have somehow managed to successfully navigate through every single fleeting trend in pop music, and have even brought new fans of every age and generation on board with them.
They don't just play rock and roll; the Rolling Stones ARE rock and roll, so it's most fitting that they sit pretty among the ranks of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. The story of how they got to that cushy position from the gray streets of post-war London is a long one, and their history is now looked at as the stuff of legend.
- From Pebbles to Stones - Surrendering To The Music, The Glimmer Twins, Getting It Together, Rhythm Section Wanted