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On July 12 next year, it will be 50 years since the very first Rolling Stones concert (or Rollin’ Stones, as they were known at the time) at London’s Marquee Club. At the time they were strictly a blues and R&B covers band, led by Brian ‘Elmo’ Jones and his astonishing slide guitar, and featuring a very different lineup to the band we all know and love today.
In fact, of the people who were in the band at the time, only Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are still Rolling Stones. Charlie Watts (drums) and Bill Wyman (bass) joined later, Dick Taylor (bass) and Tony Chapman (drums) didn’t stick around for very long, and Brian Jones and Ian Stewart (piano) are no longer with us.
Naturally, 50 years is an anniversary which is worth celebrating, especially for a band who have often been described as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.
Trouble is, Mick is still very much not talking to Keith, after his autobiography Life lifted the lid on their fractious relationship, and lobbed a few snark-bombs in there about the size of Mick’s manhood. Clearly there’s a rift there that’s going to take a while to heal, anniversary or no anniversary.
So when Mick was asked by the Daily Mail’s Live magazine what his plans may be to commemorate the gig, he said this (possibly in jest, possibly not): “Maybe we could go back to the Marquee to accept a plaque for 50 years of service instead of a tour. That could work – except Keith obviously can’t come. Charlie Watts can come but he wouldn’t get the plaque obviously.”
Now, Mick is clearly in the middle of promoting his new group SuperHeavy, and perhaps doesn’t want to be reminded of all the stresses and tantrums of his day job. Still, when asked how the other Stones have reacted to his new material, he couldn’t resist taking a vengeful swipe at Keith’s stuck-in-the-mud ways:
“Ronnie’s listened to it. He’s sweet, he’s very supportive… And Charlie liked it. He’s all about the grooves, he’s got a great ear.
“I don’t know if Keith really listens to that much. I don’t know what Keith listens to. He says he listens to Chuck Berry, I wonder if it is actually true.”
One thing’s for sure, with David Bowie taking stock and relaxing after a bout of poor health, and that Led Zeppelin reunion looking less on the cards than ever, we’re fast running out of those ’70s superstars of British rock who are still willing (and able) to come out and play.
Should Mick and Keith get back together or have they done enough? Tell us here:
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic