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The Stones celebrate a half century

By Staff | May 30, 2012

Take an inside look at a historic band in “The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll” from Life Books.

In this coffeetable book for the major fan, Life’s editors use photos and text to tell the story of the band’s 50 year journey. Whether it’s playing to the Anaheim Stadium in California in 1978 or smaller venues in London in 1964, this vibrant, colorful band comes to life through the equally vibrant photos.

For more casual fans, this book provides some interesting background information. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were childhood friends since the age of 7. The band was not founded by Jagger and Richards, but they were two of the original Stones in 1962, with Ian Stewart and Brian Jones. Charlie Watts joining a few months later. The band was largely Stewart’s organization, but the band’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, decided he didn’t fit the band’s image and he was told he could play on records and offstage, but wouldn’t be a “face” of the band. He continued to be a behind-the-scenes member of the band for many years and then died of a heart attack in 1985. When the band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the citation included his name.

Brian Jones was an original member of the band who was eventually kicked out. Where the band liked Stewart, the same could not be said for Jones, who had a problem with substance abuse and physical and mental abuse as well. Remaining a member of the band for a decade, Oldham eventually kicked him out and he died at the age of 27, in the bottom of his swimming pool.

The band played at a variety of small clubs, sometimes playing one in the afternoon and then two more in a different club in the evenings.

The Beatles came to hear them play and got along so well with them, they were invited to the Beatles’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall that night. Within a short amount of time, they had a recording contract, helped by Oldham, who was a very driven 19-year-old, even younger than the band members themselves. He produced all of the band’s records from 1963 to early 1967. He split with the group in late 1967 and moved to Colombia, producing pop acts there. He marketed the group as an “anti-Beatles” and the group’s bad-boy image continued to grow.

While Jagger and Richards seemed keen to lap up the female attention, one band member, Charlie Watts, didn’t enjoy the “groupies” that came along with fame. He and his wife are approaching their 50th anniversary.

The band was expecting to get a Beatles-like reaction to their first U.S. tour and came away disappointed in June 1964. But in July 1965, bolstered by several hits, they were back and got a warmer welcome, appearing on the Ed Sullivan show for many years.

Despite being billed as an “anti-Beatles” the band was anything but. The two bands were actually fans of each other, the Beatles giving the Stones a song, “I Wanna Be Your Man” and the two groups may have been “rivals” but were actually friends. The friendships still continue with the remaining members of the two bands.

The band’s vices are also discussed, from the hard-partying, to drinking, drugs and women. And the riotous crowds at the concerts are also mentioned, including two different incidents where someone was terribly injured or killed.

There is a lot to take in here, from members who came and left, to Hollywood spots in movies, to divorces and children, to multiple tours and more, this book covers it all.

With lots of history told through text and wonderful photos, this book is a must-have for any fan of the band or music fan in general.