Rolling Stones – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

The Rolling Stones came along in the wake of the Beatles, having taken their name from a Muddy Waters number, and stayed there in their wake right up until the Beatles broke up. They were considered unkempt and uncouth by the establishment with their long hair and surly looks but it is interesting to note that they still wore jackets and ties.
The Stones brought a harder Blues sound based on artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Reed and R&B covers from Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Rufus Thomas. They considered themselves to be more authentic and real because the Blues was an art-form a million miles away from Pop. The Stones were aficionados of a cultural style that was thought to be superior.
It was the ideal remedy for the jingly jangly chirpiness of the charting Merseyside bands with their suits and smiles. The Stones were the bad boy antidote. They came with rebellious attitude, James Dean angst and strange looks. The kids loved them. The parents were horrified.
The media seized upon them and did their utmost to create a rivalry between the dirty, immoral Stones and delightful Beatle Moptops. It was all manufactured and far from the truth. The Northern Beatles were possibly more working class, worldly and uncultured than their middle class Southern nemesis.
Following the Stones, the Blues became a huge phenomenon in Rock, with bands like Them, the Animals, Manfred Mann, the Yardbirds, Downliners Sect and Pretty Things all leading the way. Every band sprouted a harp player and seemed to cover the same Blues artists and numbers. But the Stones stood out. They had Mick Jagger as a frontman and he was the consummate showman with his pouting, gyrating, and little imitation James Brown dance routines and spins. They also had Keith Richard making shapes with the guitar and Brian Jones, whose was the actual leader, was probably the best musician on the scene and could play a mean slide guitar. Bill stood like a statue, stony-faced, and Charlie set down the beat with the ease of a fully schooled Jazz musician. It was Bill and Charlie who tethered it so the rest could explore. There was a sixth member – Ian Stewart – who played piano but their manager Andrew Loog Oldham considered that his large chin, chiselled looks did not fit in with the bands image so he kept him in the shadows. He even played on stage from the wings. I played rugby with Ian and chatted to him about it. He didn’t seem to mind; he valued his anonymity.
The Stones could produce exceptionally good versions of the Blues but they were also high energy and exciting which got the girls going.
The debut album set the tone for the early part of their career. They started with the intention of being true to the Chicago sound that they loved but that did not last. The Blues boom was destined not tot as every R&B band began churning out the same numbers. Those that survived were able to diversify and produce their own more personalised material. Fortunately Mick and Keith had been encouraged to write their own stuff and found they were good at it. The Stones went from strength to strength
Following those first two blues-based albums they started to produce a more Soul based sound coupled with the self-penned numbers aimed at the singles market. The Blues was now only to feature intermittently though they could still do it really proficiently.
As the sixties progressed they seamlessly moved into the harder style with more complex structures that appealed to the sensibilities of the burgeoning alternative Underground scene. They were aided in this by their previous rebellious personas that their management had been keen to cultivate. They were living the Rock ‘n’ Roll life as evidenced by the drugs busts and lurid tales of sex and debauchery. They even tried their hand at psychedelia but it wasn’t quite them.
By the end of the sixties they were flying high with a reputation as one of the best live acts around. They pulled off the trick of producing great chart singles as well as good albums. They adopted a Satanic image and promoted it outrageously to good effect.
With the ousting and subsequent death of Brian Jones they took on Mick Taylor straight out of John Mayall and he brought a heavy Blues guitar sound with him that gave rise to their greatest period of creativity and most memorable numbers.
After Mick Taylor jumped ship they replaced him with Ronnie Wood and then he and Keith developed a close relationship on and off stage. They were always swapping riffs and trading shapes while Mick pranced around like a teenage demon.
Even when Bill dropped out it did not diminish their pull as the foremost stadium act on the planet. They were the undisputed kings (not counting the Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin of course). The singles may have dried up and the albums not quite as consistently brilliant as in the past but the performances still excite.
The strange thing is with what ease the rebellious Mick moves through the upper echelons of the aristocracy. They seem to have adopted him. Where’s the revolting scourge of the establishment? He’s part of it! How the circle becomes complete.

3 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Opher’s World pays tribute to genius.

  1. Every bad boy eventually gets knighted… I really love the Stones. Always have always will. I may be wrong, but I get the idea that they are genuinely nice people.

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