Published on July 14, 2016
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued as occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Jones departed the band less than a month prior to his death in 1969, having been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1975. Since then, Ronnie Wood has been on guitar in tandem with Richards. Following Wyman’s departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has been the main bassist. Other notable keyboardists for the band have included Nicky Hopkins, active from 1967 to 1982; Billy Preston through the mid-1970s; and Chuck Leavell, active since 1982. The band was first led by Jones but after teaming as the band’s songwriters, Jagger and Richards assumed de facto leadership.
The Rolling Stones were in the vanguard of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964–65, and are identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. After a short period of musical experimentation that culminated with the polarising and largely psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), the group returned to its bluesy roots with Beggars’ Banquet (1968) which—along with its follow-ups, Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St (1972)—is generally considered to be the band’s best work.
The band continued to release commercially successful records, including Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981). In the 1980s, a feud between Jagger and Richards about the band’s musical direction almost caused the band to split but they managed to patch up their relationship and have a comeback with Steel Wheels (1989), which was followed by a commercially successful concert tour. Since the 1990s, new recorded material from the group has been less well-received and less frequent. Despite this, the Rolling Stones have continued to be big attraction on the live circuit, with record-setting stadium tours in the 1990s and 2000s. By 2007, the band had made what were then four of the top five highest-grossing concert tours of all time.
The Rolling Stones were inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list, and their estimated record sales are above 200 million. In 2008, the band ranked 10th on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists chart.