Happy birthday Rolling Stones! Well, it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first gig, today. It took place in a club called The Marquee, on Oxford Street in London, on Thursday 12 July 1962. They were billed as Mick Jagger and the Rollin’ Stones, and consisted of Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones. Jagger was still at the London School of Economics (and living at home); Dick Taylor was on bass, and Mick Avory on drums.
Keith Richards says that the band have met for a few rehearsals, as they celebrate 50 years together, though there’s no sign yet of a reunion tour. A photo exhibition at Somerset House will run until 27 August.
Their first gig smelled like boiled cabbage and cigarettes
Rolling Stones biographer Christopher Sandford recalled the gig in The Guardian. The spectators resembled Buddy Holly. Jagger wore cords, Richards a suit, whilst Jones leered at the women. The youth of Britain were “creating a certain amount of consternation” – the electric guitar was looking up, and a “revolt” was “at least tentatively under way.” Sandford remembered, though, that the abiding smell in the room was “boiled cabbage” and cigarettes. The band delivered their set with great energy – they “had great rhythm.” In April 1963 the band released their first single. It sold a quarter of a million copies. “The rest – well, the rest you know.”
They changed the face of pop music for ever
Neil McCormick in The Telegraph said that they changed the face of pop music for ever. Though music mag Melody Maker later spoke of their “suspect tuning,” the audience “gave them a warm reception.” They were into their blues, then; the personnel were different too. But the key lay in the Richards/Jagger dynamic. Jaggers’ “physical, primal, sexual charisma” is evident even then. But now the 21st-century Stones are “a kind of glorified showband.” McCormick wondered “what the young blues purists of the Marquee club would make of it all?”
They make us proud to be British
Steve Deal on Metro said he grew up in a house where the Stones were only mentioned “in reverential terms.” Whilst he resented being dragged to see them as a teenager, his attitude to the band has “mellowed.” He now likes them. Really likes them. “And in this year of the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee, aren’t they another great reason to be proud to be British?”