One of the talking points heading into the No Filter Tour is that you better get tickets, ‘cause this could be the last time.
This is a line we’ve heard before: If you’re 30 and you’re going to a show this tour, know that they were saying this about The Rolling Stones before you were even born. Because rock ‘n’ roll bands weren’t designed to last this long.
The Stones have almost single-handedly rewritten the playbook, forging on now for seven decades, and the way Mick Jagger is carrying on at 78, who knows how long this goes.
When the band’s first tour in five years opened last month in St. Louis, the Stones consisted of core members Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, with longtime bassist Darryl Jones, longtime keyboardist Chuck Leavell, backing vocalists Sasha Allen and Bernard Fowler, saxophonists Karl Denson and Tim Ries, multi-instrumentalist Matt Clifford and, receiving the extra scrutiny, Steve Jordan in the unenviable role of replacing the late Charlie Watts, who died in August.
With their tour now underway, here are the 8 most important moments in the Rolling Stones’ history.
1. Mick meets Keith
Jagger and Richards knew each other as early as 1950, when they were 7, having lived just a few doors away in Dartford, Kent, and going to school together. But they didn’t see each other after the Richards family moved to “the other side of the tracks” to Temple Hill … until that fateful day in October 1961 on a platform at the Dartford railway station.
Richards took note of Jagger carrying “Rockin’ at the Hops” by Chuck Berry and “The Best of Muddy Waters,” curious as to how he was acquiring those Chess records. The 17-year-old Richards played guitar and the 18-year-old Jagger was singing in an R&B band, so they started hanging out together.
By April 1962, the Blues Boys, as they called themselves, were merging with Blues Incorporated, an outfit featuring slide guitarist Brian Jones and drummer Watts. Taking their new name from a Muddy song, in July, they played their first gig all together as the Rollin’ Stones.
2. The first U.S. tour
While the Beatles’ maiden tour of the United States, in the fall of 1964, was a full-on British Invasion, the Stones just kinda washed up on the shores here. Upon arriving in June ’64, their only hit here was a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” which peaked at No. 48. Two days after being ridiculed by Dean Martin for their long hair on the TV show “The Hollywood Palace,” they played their first show in San Bernardino, Calif.
Newsweek called them the “five notes that shook the world.” Having been encouraged by manager Andrew Oldham in 1963 to write their own songs, Jagger and Richards demonstrated they could do it, with a little inspiration from The Staple Singers, on “The Last Time.”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” however, was next level. The riff came to Richards in the middle of the night, and if he hadn’t gotten on up to put it on a Philips cassette player, it may have been gone. In June 1965, the anthem of teen sexual frustration and American commercialism came snarling out of the speakers, making everything around it seem tame.
It went to No. 1 while creating Rolling Stones fans for life.
4. Redlands drug bust
By January 1967, when Sullivan was making them sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” instead of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” the Stones were superstars with nine Top 10 U.S. hits and multiple arena tours. They were set up for a fall, and it happened on Feb. 12, 1967, less than two weeks after News of the World ran a three-part expose titled “Pop Stars: The Truth That Will Shock You.” In its vivid portrayal of rock star debauchery and drug use, it mistook Jones for Jagger, who decided to sue the publication.
During that process, police raided a party at Richards’ Redlands estate and later arrested Jagger and Richards on drug charges. They were able to avoid prison sentences, but the incident shined a spotlight on drugs in rock ‘n’ roll and created a rift between Jagger and Jones, who was subsequently arrested in a May raid.
5. ‘Beggars Banquet’ and the death of Jones
“Please allow me to introduce myself …” The provocative come-on opened “Beggars Banquet,” the December 1968 album that launched the Stones into a new musical stratosphere and became the first entry of what is arguably the greatest four-album run by any band ever.
In June 1969, Jones was dismissed from the Stones due in part to his drug issues, and on July 3, he was found in his swimming pool, a victim of what the coroner called “death by misadventure.” Two days later, the Stones played their first show with the band’s most talented guitarist, Mick Taylor.
6. Tragedy at Altamont
Part of the Stones’ legend was ushering out the peace and love movement of the 1960s. It happened on Dec. 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival in Northern California in what was billed as “Woodstock West.”
It may not have been band’s idea to hire the Hell’s Angels as security but it was their headlining show, and they were on stage when Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old wielding a pistol, was stabbed to death by one of the Angels.
7. The art of ‘Sticky Fingers’
“Sticky Fingers” is not only the greatest Stones album, in this writer’s humble opinion, but also the band’s most monumental album packaging. For the cover, they commissioned Andy Warhol for the famous jeans shot complete with an actual zipper. In 2003, VH1 named it the greatest album cover of all time. But that’s not even the most important part.
In the left corner of the back cover, the Stones introduced the tongue-and-lips logo designed by John Pasche in 1970 based on the Hindu goddess Kali. The most iconic band logo — it doesn’t even require the band’s name — it will still be worn on T-shirts when robots are ruling the planet.
8. The death of Watts
Without naming names, two of the other major British Invasion bands had lovable goofball drummers. Charlie Watts was anything but. The engine of the Stones was also the gentleman of the group.
Watts was a proud Rolling Stone for 58 years — one of three members, along with Jagger and Richards, to play on every Stones album. Because of his medical condition, he had decided to sit this tour out. On Aug. 24, he died at 80.