Few may have realized it at the time, but six decades ago today was a big moment in music history. It was on July 12, 1962, that the Rolling Stones played their very first show. It was at London’s Marquee Club, a music venue that had just started up four years prior. Except, 60 years ago, the Rolling Stones were billed as the Rollin’ Stones, the lineup was different, and those that remained – who helped redefine the landscape of music – look almost unrecognizable to who they are now.
It feels like yesterday the Rolling Stones were celebrating the 50th birthday of their first gig; that anniversary came in July 2012 and things still looked quite different from how they started. For the 50th, the band converged at the place where it all began – and that beginning was by pure circumstance, thanks not to any of the Stones but to a blues artist named Alexis Korner who needed a placeholder for his performance slot. This was how the Stones got their first gig, and now they’ve got concerts set up around the world for their SIXTY tour. Just how much have times changed for Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and the band as a whole?
The Rolling Stones got their first gig 60 years ago in an unexpected way
The latest full Stones lineup people grew familiar with was comprised of Jagger, Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts. But jump back 60 years and the “Rollin'” Stones played their first gig with Jagger, Richards, Brian Jones, Tony Chapman, Ian Stewart, and Dick Taylor. Korner, band leader of Blues Incorporated, usually played at the Marquee every Thursday, but an invitation to play for BBC Radio’s Jazz Club threatened that streak – and his slot at the venue indefinitely. Fortunately for Korner, he knew some enthusiastic artists; Richards, Jagger, and Jones routinely viewed his performances. He arranged to have them fill his spot that evening.
RELATED: New Rolling Stones Drummer Reveals Touring Life With The Band
It’s reported that Jagger’s first response to this arrangement was to say, “I hope they don’t think we’re a Rock ‘n Roll outfit.” Jump ahead 60 years, and the Rolling Stones are credited with pioneering the sounds of hard rock. Could Jagger have any clue of where history would take them? Could any of them have guessed? It’s hard to say, but this is just a sampling of how differently the band and its members would transform in the days, weeks, months, and years to come – even down to the name, with a lot of disapproval voiced by Ian Stewart in particular.
The only constant has been change
@RollingStones played their first gig today in 1962. 57 years and counting! Here’s a #playlist with the #setlist: Rolling Stones Marquee 12th July 1962 #RollingStones #Rock #Blues #Musichttps://t.co/IqlxOsxiVs pic.twitter.com/8O0Ty4wPC6
— Lorena Vicente (@lorevicente) July 12, 2019
Perhaps the first clue things would work out favorably was the band’s invitation to perform at the venue again; the July 12, 1962 gig would be the first crucial foothold in what is a career of six decades and counting for multiple Rolling Stones members. A hand-written tracklist has immortalized this definitive moment. Along the way, they would change members, with Taylor leaving and Charlie Watts finally being persuaded to leave his comfortable arrangement with Blues Incorporated for the new rising wildcard stars. Sadly, Jones would die just seven years later at the age of 27. Watts had been playing with the Stones into recent years, only missing a tour for “an unspecified medical procedure,” before also passing away.
As for the members still with us, they’ve had a very eventful 60 years – and more, with Jagger and Richards still touring at 78 years of age. The two had gone to primary school together until their families both moved. Richards was a mixed bag even before the Stones; he was the kind of person to repeatedly play a song over and over until his grandfather granted him ownership of his first guitar, sang in a sopranos trio at Westminster Abbey for Queen Elizabeth herself, and was expelled from school. Today, he openly discusses his highly documented history of extensive drug use and has made no secret of the complex friendship he has with Jagger, calling him a snob he still loves dearly.
For his part, Jagger is the father of eight children with five women, which just about sums up the rockstar lifestyle the Stones would embody so famously over the years. That was then, though, and looking back, Jagger has admitted to feeling his age but has taken time to uplift the latest generation of pop culture icons.