Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rant #775: Papa Was a Rolling Stone (And So Was Grandpa)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of an event that helped to change the cosmos.

Well, probably not, and it's not even up there with the meeting of Paul McCartney and John Lennon at a church picnic, a meeting which eventually led to the formation of the Beatles.

This anniversary is a bit more subdued than that, but it is important in the grand scheme of things:

The Rolling Stones played their first-ever live performance, at The Marquee club in London.

No, the world probably didn't change because of this event, the first concert of thousands that the Rolling Stones have played over the years.

But if you were at that show, you could say that you witnessed the first notion that this band was "the world's greatest rock band" as they have been called since the 1970s.

To see the young band at the very beginning of its ascent must have been something to behold. I mean, probably hundreds of bands had their first gig before and after that occasion, but the Rolling Stones are most probably the only one to have endured for the past 50 years.

The Rolling Stones went on from that gig, and like the Beatles, eventually made recordings that sold millions and millions of copies.]

And like the Beatles, they played small halls, and eventually stadiums, but unlike their Liverpudlian counterparts, they continued to play these types of venues into the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and well into the 2000s.

The Beatles ... well, they hung it up as a live band in 1966 in San Francisco.

Although cut from roughly the same cloth, you really can't compare the two bands, although everyone does.

Yes, it took both bands a little while to sustain a following, and yes, there were plenty of personnel changes until the "classic" lineup took hold.

But in early 1964, when the Beatles finally broke through in America, the Rolling Stones hadn't achieved that type of popularity yet.

In fact, during the early days of the British Invasion, from early 1964 to mid 1965, the Rolling Stones were back in the pack, with bands like Herman's Hermits, the Dave Clark Five and the Animals making a major dent in the American charts before Mick Jagger and Co.

But once "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" hit the airwaves in 1965, the Rolling Stones were not to be stopped. They supplanted those other bands, and some say, they actually jumped over the Beatles, too, but that is an argument that I don't think anyone can win.

But unlike the Beatles, who called it a day in 1970, the Rolling Stones have played on.

For whatever reason, the main players in the group seem to need this band "outlet" to vent their musical frustrations. They have all had solo careers, but when they come together as a band, it seems to rise their music to another, more magical, level.

The Rolling Stones' scruffiness, ugliness, bad behavior, or whatever you want to call it, was the perfect black side to the Beatles' relative cleanliness during the early days, and while that was a clear fallacy, it has pushed the Rolling Stones to this day.

I remember the older sister of a friend of mine once said to me something to the effect that "they are so ugly that they're lovable," and I think that is part of the whole deal with them.

And, of course, their music is endearing.

At the time, I think a lot of older people thought that these guys were the sons of the devil, but now, aren't the Rolling Stones just about the most mainstream, corporate band that there has ever been?

So, hats off to the band on the 50th anniversary of their first gig. May they play on for as long as they want and as long as people want them to play on ... which is forever.

We love you!

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