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“50 Years…And Still Rolling” – The Rolling Stones

Welcome to another guest writer – to look at another essential band not previously considered. The Rolling Stones – or as Nisha puts it – “50 Years…And Still Rolling”.

50 years and still rolling

50 years and still rolling

Many a band or artist can be defined by greatness achieved, summits scaled, and indelible, iconic impressions left behind. The Beatles have The Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, The White Album,Revolver, Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Let It Be, the “reunion” performance atop the Cavern Club roof in Liverpool, and a myriad more iconic legacies that shaped the music generations to come would make.

Elvis Presley will always be remembered for charisma emblazoned on America’s consciousness, from young sexual energy that even being broadcast only from the waist up, to the King of Rock n’ Roll’s rebirth before a live nationwide ’68 CBS audience to claim his rightful throne and reign anew.

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will always embody the unstoppable rage, disenfranchised, disillusioned rage of grunge kicking down mainstream music’s polished-oak door.

Just as many become martyrs, legends and even cautionary tales amid the transformational fires they couldn’t walk through and emerge from alive. Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s widening rift – coupled, depending on your chosen belief, with Yoko Ono’s emergence into Lennon’s creative direction – proved more than the Fab Four could hold on through with the Beatles as the world knew them intact.

For all his legacy as a symbol of rock and roll’s pivotal birth, Presley died a now-cartoonish cautionary tale of the death grip fame’s path of excess exerts even along a road to the Palace of Wisdom that he himself never reached.

As emblematic as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became of a generation’s identity and soul, a key part of Nirvana’s legacy will always be that the band’s pumping heart was born and beat on fed by the heart and mind of Kurt Cobain…and that it truly ceased beating the moment his did.

Still, there are the others. There are the bands and artists who became legends amid survived baptisms by fire. There are the ones Time’s relentless march can’t walk into the ground and break.

For 50 years, there have been The Rolling Stones. That’s what makes this series’ culminating “50 Years…and Still Rolling” postcard so special. It embodies the sum of every song and story’s scar left behind: the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones, together again onstage.

The illustrations seen at Nishas’ site How The Stones Roll are definitely colourful caricatures – as colourful and lovingly rendered as any tributes to these bullet points on the Stones’ timeline – but might still pale in comparison to what The Rolling Stones have lived through first-hand. A Muddy Waters song that Brian Jones heard in 1962 impregnated his founding mind a name: “Sure Enough, He’s a Rolling Stone.”

Bassist Bill Wyman deemed the band’s virgin 1964 U.S. tour marred by bad reviews and worse attendance “a disaster” summed up with tongue firmly in cheek with “American Tour is No Gas.” There were the drugs – oh, were there drugs, enough to land Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in jail in ’67, ala “Banged Up.” By ’69, Jones was dead, replaced by Mick Taylor. That same year, the band bore witness to murder at the hands of Hell’s Angels “security” at their free Altamont, CA., concert memorialised in “The Gig Turns Sour.”

Taylor left. Ronnie Wood joined, as big a part of the Stones’ sound as he looms in “Introducing Ronnie Wood”. Charlie Watts slugged Jagger and warned him, “Never Call Me Your Drummer!” Jagger hated Richards. Richards hated Jagger. Jagger, Richards and Wyman couldn’t stand each other. Three years after Richards and Jagger mend fences in Barbados to save the band, Wyman left (“Almost The End”).

The Rolling Stones have died a thousand ugly deaths. Lesser wounds have killed.

Then came 2012. Then came London’s O2 Arena, the return of Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman (“50 Years…And Still Rolling”), and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, icons, legends and warriors of stage and studio playing on and on as though another 50 years wouldn’t be much more to them than one big, raucous encore.

Sure, celebrate Exile on Main Street, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, Sticky Fingers, and maybe even that time David Bowie’s wife caught him in bed with Jagger and offered the two coffee. Remember where you were when you heard Lennon and McCartney singing backup vocals to Jagger’s lead on “We Love You”. Dust off every memory of the last 50 years that a Stones song coloured and know that for the Stones themselves, every song and every scar tells a story.

Roll with us along the Stones’ road well-travelled. These 19 postcards celebrate a fraction of the pivotal moments that moulded,  fractured, mended, and defined arguably rock and roll’s most prolific, impactful band. We at Howthestonesroll.com love the music. We love the rawness, the dirt under the fingernails, the danger and the rebellious revolution that the Stones embody in their most emblematic moments.

We just also recognize the cuts, nicks, bruises and scars from the band’s personal journey that give every triumph all the busted-up character of Keith’s best-traveled, most road-beaten six-strings. While you look back on the music, celebrate the infamy, too. Look back with us on the stranger-than-fiction truths with these postcards, from the late Jones’ “Eureka!” moment, right down to Keith taking a tumble out of a Fijian coconut tree.

Every song tells a story. We just happen to be fascinated that for every story a song tells, there are so many more good ones it keeps to itself.

Look back on the past half-century on the road and laugh a little with us. It’s How the Stones Roll.

The Rolling Stones Singles Box Set (1971-2006) – The Rolling Stones is available in iTunes*

Thanks Nisha – not a band I would have ever got round to writing about- but The Rolling Stones certainly deserve to be in the hall of essential bands. To find out more about the work Nisha is involved in – find out more at the website.

Join the Indie Bands Blog on Google+ for more essential bands.

*Purchases made through the iTunes link will result in the Indie Bands Blog earning a commission.

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