Please allow me to introduce myself...' Meet the Rolling Stones
MICK JAGGER: Time is on his side
When the 22-year-old lead singer of the Rolling Stones first strutted across British and American television screens performing his band's first #1 hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," he inspired a generation of teenage rebels and set the model for what the frontman for a rock 'n' roll band should be: loud, preening, brash, and above all, cocky.
Forty years later, aspiring rockers are still trying to imitate him, but as he continues to prove onstage night after night, there's only one Mick Jagger.
Born Michael Philip Jagger on July 26, 1943, he met his lifetime collaborator, Keith Richards, in primary school at the age of five, though the two lost touch soon afterward. It wasn't until a chance meeting through a mutual friend in 1960 that the two rekindled their friendship and began to write songs together. Soon they started a band, deciding to name it after a Muddy Waters lyric, and the names Jagger and Richards have been inseparable ever since.
That's not to say the men themselves haven't spent some serious time apart. Drug abuse and creative tension between Jagger's infatuation with dance-pop and Richards' staunch adherence to blues-driven rock sent the band on hiatus for much of the '80s.
During that time, Jagger recorded solo projects She's the Boss and Primitive Cool, both critical and commercial flops. Then– after almost a decade of silence and sniping in the press– Jagger and Richards buried the hatchet in 1989 to reunite the Stones and record the band's 28th album, Steel Wheels.
Since that time, Jagger has remained the epitome of rock star cool, become a symbol for longevity, and was even dubbed Sir Michael Jagger by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.
KEITH RICHARDS: Soul survivor
In recent years, Rolling Stones guitarist and co-songwriter Keith Richards has been known to tell audiences, "It's great to be here, it's great to be anywhere." For someone who lived through Nazi bombing campaigns, numerous drug arrests, 40 years on the road, and enough nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin to kill a man several times over, Richards has good reason to be so grateful.
But to focus on his hedonistic past is to miss Richards' real legacy. As the creator of unforgettable guitar riffs like the ones from "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Brown Sugar," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Honky Tonk Women," and, "Start Me Up," only his boyhood hero Chuck Berry and his more flashy contemporary Jimi Hendrix can challenge him as the most influential rock guitarists of all time.
Born December 18, 1943, Richards grew up mesmerized by the pioneering recordings of Berry and Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore, and through them delved into the blues records of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. It was that fusion of danceable rockabilly and raunchy blues that made for Richards' signature style and defined the Rolling Stones' sound.
Unlike his ultra-extroverted counterpart Jagger, Richards has always been content to be the stoic background player, rarely assuming vocal duties and seldom pursuing outside projects. However, his 1988 solo debut, Talk Is Cheap, and the 1992 follow-up, Main Offender, were both hits with critics and fans. More recently, he was introduced to a whole new generation as the inspiration for Johnny Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, Richards was so flattered by the nod from Depp that he agreed to portray Captain Jack's swashbuckling father in two forthcoming sequels. Unfortunately, his hectic tour schedule conflicted with filming, and in September Depp announced Richards' cameo was a no-go.
CHARLIE WATTS: Undercover
When you're in the same band as two of the most charismatic figures in rock history, it's easy to go unnoticed. However, make no mistake, the no frills, always solid, slightly swinging drumming of Charlie Watts is the engine that drives the rock band known as the World's Greatest.
It all almost never came to pass. In 1961, the 20-year-old Watts quit his band, Blues, Inc., because he didn't like the hectic life of touring. However, not long after Blues, Inc. renamed themselves the Rolling Stones, former bandmates Jagger and Richards managed to persuade their old friend to come back, and Watts hasn't left his drum stool since.
When he's not getting his ya-yas out with the Stones, Watts pursues his passion for jazz. During the infamous 1980s feud between Jagger and Richards, Watts took the opportunity to pursue a life-long dream: forming the Charlie Watts Big Band. His status in the jazz community was solidified when his quintet recorded the critically acclaimed Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings in 1991.
Like his onstage demeanor, Watts' life off-stage is clean and quiet. He's never been known to have a drug habit, and only days after he rocks Scott Stadium, Watts will celebrate 41 years of marriage with his wife, Shirley. Last year, doctors diagnosed Watts, a former longtime smoker, with throat cancer. But after radiation therapy, the cancer is now in remission.
RON WOOD: Old Face turned new face
When guitarist Mick Taylor quit the Stones in 1975, the band auditioned many an axman to take his place, but Keith Richards knew there was only one man for the job. Eventually, the rest of his bandmates arrived at the same conclusion, and in 1976 Ron Wood won his place as the junior member of the Stones. After 16 albums and nearly 30 years, he has become as much a part of Stones' lore as big lips and boozy riffs.
Wood was far from unknown when he joined up with the band. Born June 1, 1947, he had already made a name for himself as the bass player for the Jeff Beck Group and then as lead guitarist for the British R&B hit-makers the Small Faces (later re-named the Faces).
During this period, Wood began a lifelong friendship with Beck Group and Faces singer Rod Stewart. Their collaboration was put on hold when Wood joined the Stones, but the two collaborated again for Stewart's wildly successful 1993 live album and MTV special Unplugged...and Seated.
While not as big a name as Jagger or Richards, Wood has quietly become the most prolific Stone in terms of solo work. Since recording the classic, if largely undiscovered, albums I've Got My Own Album to Do and Gimme Some Neck in the '70s, Wood has put out a steady stream of side projects, the latest being 2003's Always Wanted More. And if that doesn't keep him busy enough, he also happens to be one of rock's most in-demand session guitarists, contributing to recordings by such heavy-hitters as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and the Band.
SIDEBAR- 2000 light years from Stones: Former members you won't see in Charlottesville
Published on September 29, 2005 in issue 0439 of the Hook
After 30 years as the rock-steady bassist for the Stones, Wyman amicably parted with the band in 1993 following the Steel Wheels tour. Since that time he's led a relatively quiet life while publishing his autobiography, Stone Alone, and forming his new band, the Rhythm Kings, with fellow veteran rockers Peter Frampton and Albert Lee. Session player Darryl Jones has been the Stones' bassman since 1994.
He was one of the founding members of the Stones, and Jones' guitar work on their early material was a vastly important element of their trademark style. Toward the end of the '60s, Jones stopped seeing eye to eye with the rest of the band and quit in June 1969. Any hope of a reunion was dashed less than a month later when Jones drowned tragically in a swimming pool, a tragedy the coroner called "death by misadventure."
Joining the Stones in 1969 following Jones' death, Taylor left an indelible mark on the band's catalogue, playing on such landmark albums as Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. However, Taylor's tenure proved short-lived, and he left the group in 1975. He continues to record and tour as a solo artist and with English blues stalwarts John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
On the back of 1966's Got Live if You Want It , clockwise from top, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Brian Jones.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO