by Chiron O'Keefe
A Celebration of the reissued
"Exile on Main Street" and a tribute to the One and Only... The Rolling Stones!
One fateful day in 1960, Mick Jagger ambled through the railway station at Dartford, England, clutching a handful of albums including blues great, Muddy Waters, and early rocker, Chuck Berry.
An old school chum, Keith Richards, took notice and in that instant a new probable universe emerged. Although they literally were heading in different directions, Mick off to the London School of Economics, and Keith to Sidcup Art College, their souls were on the same track. Within four years, their mutual passion would become the beating heart of a rock band that still endures half a century later.
Brian Jones, a phenomenal slide guitarist, was the blues purist who founded the group.
On the phone, setting up an advert, Brian glanced down at an album cover for inspiration when asked the name of their band. Christened in tribute to the Muddy Waters song of the same name, The Rollin' Stones played their first gig in July of 1962. Within six months, Bill Wyman's brilliant bass and jazz drummer, Charlie Watt's, signature percussion would round out the band. Destiny was knocking with a blues beat.
In 1963, former Beatles publicist, Andrew Oldham, grabbed the wheel at the age of nineteen and steered the young rockers onto a path of fame and fortune. Decca Records has gone down in history as the company who foolishly passed on the Beatles, so when presented with an possible alternative (and with the solid recommendation of Beatle, George Harrison), they seized the opportunity. The genius of their new producer, Oldham, was to present the Rolling Stones as the antithesis of the Beatles. Upon his urging, they dropped the Beatle boots and slick jackets and cultivated a rough and raw image. It was Andrew who planted the initial attention-grabbing headline, "Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Rolling Stone?"
Early Rolling Stones playing "The Last Time":
Early Stones playing "My Girl", a photo montage:
Recognizing the potential of the songwriting team of Lennon/McCartney, Andrew also allegedly locked Jagger and Richards into a room, not to emerge until they'd written a song. Another great legend I remember fondly is when Mick and Keith met up with John and Paul to receive a 'hit song' to record. The song (which did generate a hit for the Stones) was titled "I Wanna Be Your Man." The legend goes like this. John and Paul played the first verse and chorus for the boys, who eagerly agreed to record the song. Satisfied that their effort would not be wasted, the Beatle boys excused themselves and went into another room to finish writing the song. Astonished, Mick and Keith thought, Damn, if it's that easy, why don't we do it?
The Stones endured many transitions over the years. Despite Brian's early leadership, the prominence of front man, Mick Jagger, bolstered by his co-writing status with Keith, quickly changed the dynamic. Less than a decade passed before Brian was unceremoniously dumped from the band he had founded. A few weeks later, on July 3rd 1969 he was found floating in his swimming pool. To this day, the circumstances of his death remains a mystery.
Young blues virtuoso, Mick Taylor, replaced Brian and heralded what many consider the peak of the Rolling Stones recording history. In 1974, feeling frustrated and underappreciated, Taylor left the band to pursue other avenues of musical expression.
1971 Marquee Club, "I Got the Blues":
"Tumbling Dice" 5-21-72 Rialto Theatre Montreux, Switzerland:
After auditioning a number of likely choices, Ronnie Wood, fresh from a highly successful career with The Faces, was chosen as the new co-lead guitarist. By 1992, their phenomenal bassist, Bill Wyman, also left the band. Charlie Watts tapped Darryl Jones, a former sideman of Sting and Miles Davis, to be the next bassist for the band. This time though, unlike Ronnie Wood or Mick Taylor. the replacement was not touted as a new member, but relegated to being merely an accompanying musician, admittedly, one of the best gigs a musician could hope for.
Now, fifty years after two fresh-faced English lads courted fate simply by discovering a mutual delight for American blues records, the Rolling Stones are once again in the spotlight with the re-release of Exile on Main Street.
A bit of trivia for fans of the CBS show, Medium. As a young boy, Jake Weber, who plays rocket scientist and ever-patient husband, Joe Dubois, had a front row seat to the recording of "Exile on Main Street" in the South of France. Yup, that's him as a young boy seated next to a collection of guitars, watching Keith play.
(Warning--Drug Use) Original "Exile On Main Street" Tour—A Day Off:
Working with famed producer, Don Was, the songwriting team of Jagger/Richards, added guitar parts and vocals to unfinished songs slated to be heard by an eager public for the first time in almost thirty years.
Fifty years of Rock and Roll, not bad for a group who's charismatic front man once said, "I'd rather be dead than singing satisfaction when I'm forty-five."
"Get off of My Cloud":
The boys have endured decades of chaotic tours, drug-fueled years of heart-pounding excess and unbelievable pandemonium. Of the original group, only three remain. Mick and Keith have torn apart, gone their separate ways more than once, yet somehow always end up eventually sharing the same stage. Like every working 'couple', they've had their share of knock-down, drag-out fights while sharing the fiercely competitive nature of musical siblings. What first brought them together remains the bond that reunites them time and time again.
The same passion that led a six-year-old girl (and future writer and musician) to select a Rolling Stones album as her first musical purchase. After my own endless years of being a Stones fan, what can I say? It's only Rock-n-Roll, but I like it.
"It's Only Rock and Roll" during the Bridges to Babylon Tour 97-98:
On those occasional times when Chiron steps away from her computer, she is often found, guitar in hand, strumming away and crooning her favorite tunes. Her creative spirit leads her to compose fanciful stories, dance madly with her girlfriends, pen motivational essays for writers, and, of course, play songs on her guitar until the wee hours. Catch her essays at The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com