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From left to right:
Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones,
Keith Richards, Charlie Watts





Bill German - Under Their Thumb


( Review)



Keith Richards – Life (book)



1960-1962 - 1962-1964 - 1965-1969 - 1969-1974 - 1974-1982 -
1983-1991 - 1992-1999 - 2000-present


Founding: 1960-1962

In 1951 Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were classmates at Wentworth County Junior School. They met again in 1960 while Richards was attending Sidcup Art College. They met on a train when Jagger had blues albums under his arm. With mutual friend Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things), they formed the band Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. Stones founders Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart were active in the London R&B scene fostered by Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner. Jagger and Richards met Jones while he was playing slide guitar sitting in with Korner's Blues Inc. Korner also had hired Jagger periodically and frequently future Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Their first rehearsal was organized by Jones and included Stewart, Jagger and Richards - the latter came along at Jagger's invitation. In June 1962 the lineup was: Jagger, Richards, Stewart, Jones, Taylor, and drummer Tony Chapman. Taylor then left the group. Jones renamed the band The Rollin' Stones, after the song "Rollin' Stone" by Muddy Waters.


On July 12, 1962 the group played its first formal gig at the Marquee club in central London (the first had been an informal performance in Ealing, west London), billed as "The Rollin' Stones". The line-up was Jagger, Richards, Jones, Stewart on piano, Taylor on bass and Tony Chapman on drums. Jones intended for the band to play primarily Chicago blues, but Jagger and Richards brought the rock 'n roll of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley to the band. Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December and drummer Charlie Watts the following January to form the Stones' long standing rhythm section.

The Stones' first manager Giorgio Gomelsky booked the band to play at his Crawdaddy Club for what became an eight-month residency during which their fan base grew to include the Beatles. The Beatles in turn recommended the Stones to their publicist Andrew Loog Oldham, who promptly signed the band to a management deal with his partner and veteran booker Eric Easton. (Gromelsky had no written agreement with the band and was not consulted.) George Harrison likewise suggested to Dick Rowe of Decca Records (who came to regret turning down the Beatles) that he should sign the Stones. Their first EP, The Rolling Stones and album (also titled The Rolling Stones, titled in US England's Newest Hit Makers), were comprised primarily of covers drawn from the band's live repertoire. A notable hit from the album was the band's first Top 40 single written by Jagger and Richards, "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)". After signing with Decca, the Stones began touring the UK and Europe. On their first tour of England, the Stones were packaged with American stars including Ike and Tina Turner, Bo Diddley, The Ronettes, The Everly Brothers and Little Richard. The first tour also cemented the Stones' shift from a rhythm and blues band to more of a pop band, resulting in a reduction in the number of blues songs the band played live. The Rolling Stones No. 2 (The Rolling Stones, Now! in the United States) (UK #1; US #5) again contained mainly cover tunes, but was augmented by songs composed by Jagger and Richards. After the album's release, the band began to tour constantly. The Rolling Stones' first UK chart-topper was the cover of "It's All Over Now" in June 1964.

During the first American tour in June 1964, the Stones began years of recording exclusively at American studios, Chess Studios in Chicago and RCA Studios in Los Angeles. The Stones' version of “Little Red Rooster,” which went to number 1 in the UK, was banned in the US because of its “objectionable” lyrics. Oldham crafted the band's image of long-haired tearaways "into the opposite of what the Beatles [were] doing". The Stones also appeared on American variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan reacted to the pandemonium the Stones caused and promised to never book them again, though he later did book them repeatedly. They also played on the The Hollywood Palace where host Dean Martin made fun of their longish hair, which was considered provocative. In October the band appeared immediately after James Brown in the filmed theatrical release of The T.A.M.I. Show, which showcased American acts with British Invasion artists. According to Jagger in 2003, "We weren't actually following James Brown because there were hours in between the filming of each section. Nevertheless, he was still very annoyed about it...". The first American tour was not an overwhelming success: the band did not top charts and poor booking marred many live appearances.


The first Jagger/Richards composition at number 1 in the UK was "The Last Time" in early 1965. The US version of that year's Out of Our Heads LP contained seven original songs, including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" which became the band's first number one in the US where it remained for four weeks in July, and established the Stones as a worldwide premier act. Shortly thereafter they released their second number one, "Get Off of My Cloud". Out of Our Heads and the US-only released December's Children were also the last Stones albums to predominantly feature covers. The release Aftermath (UK #1; US #2) in the late spring of 1966 was the first Stones album to be comprised only of Jagger/Richards songs. The American version of the LP included the chart-topping, Middle Eastern-influenced "Paint It, Black", the ballad "Lady Jane", and the almost 12-minute long "Going Home", the first extended jam on a top selling rock n' roll album; later Jimi Hendrix, Cream and other sixties and seventies bands would release long jams routinely.

Jagger, Richards and Jones began to be hounded by authorities over illegal drug use. In 1967 the Sussex police, tipped off by the News of the World, raided a party at Keith Richards' home, "Redlands". Jagger and Richards were charged with drug offences. Richards said in 2003, "When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realize that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped. Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted."

Amid this, January saw the release of Between the Buttons (UK #3; US #2). The US version included the double A-side singles of "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Ruby Tuesday". The Stones performed the former on The Ed Sullivan Show in the USA, where Jagger was forced to mumble the song's lyrics and change the chorus to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" due to the threat of censorship. The album was Oldham's last venture as the Stones' producer (and, effectively, manager as well).

In May 1967, shortly before the trials of Jagger and Richards, Brian Jones was arrested for possession of cannabis He escaped with a fine and probation but was told to seek professional help. On June 27, Jagger and Richards were convicted and jailed. The band recorded a new single, "We Love You", as a thank-you for the loyalty shown by their fans during the trials. It began with the sound of opening prison doors and in TV films to promote the record Jagger dressed in a style reminiscent of Oscar Wilde.

December 1967 saw the release of Their Satanic Majesties Request (UK #3; US #2), released shortly after the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Satanic Majesties was recorded in difficult circumstances while Jagger, Richards and Jones were in and out of jail. (Bill Wyman wrote and sang a track on the album — "In Another Land" — and the front cover of the album had a kaleidoscope picture.) Jagger was a strong advocate of the psychedelic sound of the album, but rarely have any songs from the record been played live. Though the band has released psychedelic tracks, Satanic Majesties is an anomaly. It also marked the first time the Stones produced their own album.

By early 1968 the Stones had acquired Allen Klein as their new manager. The band spent the first few months of the year compiling material for their next album. Those sessions resulted in the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash", released as a single in May. The song, and later that year the resulting album, Beggars Banquet (UK #3; US #5), marked the band's return to its blues roots with new producer Jimmy Miller. Featuring the album's lead single, "Street Fighting Man", and the opening track "Sympathy for the Devil", Beggars Banquet is another eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes and was hailed as an achievement for the Stones at the time of its release. During this time Richards started using open tunings, most prominently a 5-string open-G tuning (with the lower 6th string removed), as heard on the 1969 single "Honky Tonk Women", "Brown Sugar" (Sticky Fingers, 1971), "Tumbling Dice", "Happy", (Exile on Main Street, 1972), and "Start Me Up" (Tattoo You, 1981). Open tunings lead to Stones' (and Richards') trademark guitar sound.

By the release of Beggars Banquet Brian Jones had contributed sporadically and was more troubled. Jagger said that Jones was "not psychologically suited to this way of life." His drug use had become a hindrance, and he was unable to obtain a US visa. In a June meeting at Jones' house between Jagger, Richards, Watts, Richards said that Jones admitted that he couldn't "go on the road again." All agreed to let Jones, according to Richards, "...say I've left, and if I want to I can come back." His replacement was the 21-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor, of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, who started recording with the band immediately. In less than a month at his Cotchford Farm home in Sussex, Jones drowned in his pool. All sorts of conspiracy theories have made the rounds ever since.


Despite the death of Brian Jones two days previously, a scheduled concert in London's Hyde Park went ahead in front of an estimated 250,000 fans. The band had just released "Honky Tonk Women" on July 3, coinciding with the death. The band's performance was captured by a Granada Television production team, later to be shown on British television as Stones in the Park. Jagger read an excerpt from Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy Adonais and released thousands of butterflies in memory of Jones. The concert was the first gig for the band in a little over a year.

The release of Let It Bleed (UK #1; US #3) came in December. Their last album of the 60s, Let It Bleed featured "Gimme Shelter", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Midnight Rambler", as well as a cover of Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain". Most of these songs became part of the live show for the resulting tour of America, their first in three years. Making their way from New York to California, the tour culminated with the band's staging of the Altamont Free Concert, at the disused Altamont Speedway, about 60 km east of San Francisco. The concert was a disaster, due in part to the hiring of Hell's Angels to undertake security. Meredith Hunter, a young man, was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels. The tour and "Altamont" were documented in Albert and David Maysles' film Gimme Shelter. As a response to the growing popularity of bootleg recordings, the live album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! (UK #1; US #6) was released in 1970 and was considered by critic Lester Bangs the best live record ever.

By 1969, the band's 1963 contract with Decca Records ended, and the Stones formed their own record company, Rolling Stones Records. Sticky Fingers (UK #1; US #1), released in March 1971, was the band's first album on their own label. The album contains one of their best known hits, two of which, "Brown Sugar", and the country-influenced "Wild Horses" were recorded at Alabama's Muscle Shoals Sound Studio during the 1969 American tour..

Sticky Fingers continued the band's immersion into heavily blues-influenced compositions. Some tracks (including "Brown Sugar" and "You Gotta Move") The album is noted for its "loose, ramshackle ambience" and marked Mick Taylor's first full release with the band. Taylor collaborated on several songs with Jagger (likely "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile"), partially because of Richards' drug addictions and resulting unreliability. However, when released, all original songs were credited to "Jagger/Richards".

Following the release of Sticky Fingers, the Stones left England after allegations by the UK Inland Revenue service of unpaid income tax. The band moved to the South of France. Richards rented a chateau, Villa Nellcôte and sublet rooms to band members and entourage. Using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio they continued recording sessions that stretched as far back as 1969. The subsequent recordings were finished at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles by the band. The resulting double album, Exile on Main St. (UK #1; US #1), was released in May 1972. Given an A+ grade by critic Robert Christgau and disparaged by Lester Bangs — who reversed his opinion within months — Exile is now accepted as one of the Stones' best albums. The film Cocksucker Blues, never officially released, documents the subsequent, highly publicised 1972 North American ("STP") Tour, with its retinue of jet set hangers-on. The band's early 1973 Pacific Tour saw them banned from playing in Japan and almost banned from Australia.

In November 1972, the band began sessions in Kingston, Jamaica for their follow-up to Exile, Goats Head Soup (UK #1; US #1) (1973). The album spawned the worldwide hit "Angie", but proved the first in a string of commercially successful but tepidly received studio albums. The sessions for Goats Head Soup led to a number of outtakes, most notably an early version of the popular ballad "Waiting on a Friend", not released until Tattoo You, eight years later. The making of the record was hindered by another legal battle over drugs, this one dating back to their stay in France.

The band went to Musicland studios in Munich to record their next album, 1974's It's Only Rock 'n Roll (UK #2; US #1), but Jimmy Miller, who had drug abuse issues, was no longer producer. Instead, Jagger and Richards assumed production duties and were credited as "the Glimmer Twins". Both the album and the single of the same name were hits, even without an immediate tour to promote them.

Nearing the end of 1974, Taylor began to get impatient because there had been no tours since October 1973. The band found itself in a stalemate, with members opting to spend time abroad between recording sessions, while Jagger was getting exasperated with Richards, who was becoming more unpredictable. The other members of the band ended up paying the fines and legal bills resulting from Richards' convictions, which led to the band being denied entry to certain countries and to missed income for all. Taylor spent his time helping Jagger compose and record songs in the studio, while Richards was often absent. Jagger promised Taylor recognition for his contributions in the form of official credits on tracks. When this did not happen, and with no tour in sight by the end of 1974 and a recording session already booked in Munich to record another album, Taylor quit The Rolling Stones.


The Stones used the recording sessions in Munich to audition replacements for Taylor. Guitarists as stylistically far-flung as Humble Pie lead Peter Frampton and ex-Yardbirds virtuoso Jeff Beck were auditioned. Rory Gallagher and Shuggie Otis also dropped by the Munich sessions. American session players Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel also appeared on much of the album. Yet, Richards and Jagger also wanted the Stones to remain purely a British band. When Ron Wood walked in and jammed with the band, Richards and everyone else knew he was the one. Wood had already recorded and played live with Richards and already contributed to the recording and writing of It's Only Rock 'n Roll. The album, Black and Blue (UK #2; US #1) (1976), featured all their contributions. Though he initially declined Jaggers offer to become a full member of the Stones because of his ties to the The Faces, Wood committed to the Stones in 1975 for their upcoming Tour of the Americas. At the insistence of Wyman and Watts, Wood was eventually made a full member in the 80s. The 1975 Tour of the Americas featured stage props including a giant phallus and a rope on which Jagger swung out over the audience.

Toronto's El Mocambo Club where Love You Live was recorded. Although The Rolling Stones remained popular through the first half of the 70s, music critics had grown increasingly dismissive of the band's output, and record sales failed to meet expectations. Jagger had booked a live recording session at the El Mocambo club in Toronto to balance a long-overdue live album, 1977's Love You Live (UK #3; US #5), the first Stones live album since 1970's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!. Richards' addiction to heroin delayed his arrival in Toronto; the other members had already assembled, awaiting Richards, and sent him a telegram asking him where he was. On February 24, 1977, Richards and his family flew in from London on a direct BOAC flight and were detained by Canada Customs after being found in possession of a burnt spoon and hash residue. On March 4, Richards' common law wife Anita Pallenberg plead guilty to drug possession and was fined for the original airport event. On Sunday, February 27th, after two days of Stones rehearsals, armed with legal arrest warrants for Pallenberg, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered "22 grams of heroin" in Richards' room. Richards was charged with importing narcotics into Canada, which carried a minimum seven-year sentence upon conviction. Later the Crown prosecutor conceded that Richards had procured the drugs after arrival. Despite the arrest, the band played two shows in Toronto, only to raise more controversy when Margaret Trudeau was seen partying with the band after the show.

The drug case dragged on for over a year until Richards received a suspended sentence and was ordered to play two free concerts for the CNIB in Oshawa, Ontario. This sparked one of Richards' first musical projects outside the Stones (with more to come as Jagger's own solo interests dawned in the 80s), as he and Wood formed a band, The New Barbarians, to perform at the shows. This motivated a final, concerted attempt to end his drug habit, which proved largely successful. It also coincided with the end of his relationship with Pallenberg, which had become strained since the death of their third child (an infant son named Tara) and her inability to curb her heroin addiction while Keith struggled to get clean.

While Richards was settling his legal and personal problems, Jagger continued his jet-set lifestyle. He was a regular at New York's Studio 54 disco club, often in the company of model Jerry Hall. His marriage to Bianca ended in 1977. By this time, punk rock had become influential, and the Stones were criticized as decadent, aging millionaires, and their music considered by many to be stagnant or irrelevant. In 1978, the band released Some Girls (UK #2; US #1), which included the hit single "Miss You", the country ballad "Far Away Eyes", "Beast of Burden", and "Shattered". In part a response to punk, many songs were fast, basic, guitar-driven rock and roll. After the US Tour 1978, the group did not tour Europe the following year, breaking the routine of touring Europe every three years that the band had followed since 1967.

Entering the 80s on a renewed commercial high due to the success of Some Girls, the band released its next album Emotional Rescue (UK #1; US #1) in mid-1980. The recording of the album was reportedly plagued by turmoil, with Jagger and Richards' relationship reaching a new low. Richards, more sober than during the previous ten years, began to assert more control in the studio — more than Jagger had become used to — and a struggle ensued as Richards felt he was fighting for "his half of the Glimmer Twins." Though Emotional Rescue hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, it was panned as lackluster and inconsistent. Some felt it was a poor imitation of its predecessor.

In early 1981, the group reconvened and decided to tour the US that year, leaving little time to write and record a new album, as well as rehearse for the tour. That year's resulting album, Tattoo You (UK #2; US #1) featured a number of outtakes, including lead single "Start Me Up". Two songs ("Waiting on a Friend" and "Tops") featured Mick Taylor's guitar playing, while jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins played on "Slave" and dubbed a part on "Waiting on a Friend". The Stones' American Tour 1981 was their biggest, longest and most colorful production to date, with the band playing from September 25th through December 19th. It was the highest grossing tour of that year. Some shows were recorded, resulting in the 1982 live album Still Life (American Concert 1981) (UK #4 / US #5), and the 1983 Hal Ashby concert film Let's Spend the Night Together which was filmed at Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona and the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands, New Jersey.

In mid-1982, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, the Stones took their American stage show to Europe. European Tour 1982 was their first European tour in six years. The tour was essentially a carbon copy of the 1981 American tour. For the tour, the band was joined by former Allman Brothers Band piano player Chuck Leavell, who continues to play and record with the Stones. By the end of the year, the band had signed a new four-album, 28 million dollar recording deal with a new label, CBS Records.


Before leaving Atlantic the Stones released Undercover (UK #3; US #4) in late 1983. Despite good reviews the record sold below expectations and there was no tour to support it. Subsequently the Stones new marketer/distributor CBS Records took over distributing the Stone's Atlantic catalogue.

By this time the Jagger/Richards split was growing. Jagger had signed a solo deal with CBS to be distributed by Columbia, much to the consternation of Richards. Jagger spent much of 1984 writing songs for his first solo effort and as he admitted, he began to feel stultified within the framework of the Stones. In 1985, co-founder, pianist, road manager and long-time friend Ian Stewart died of a heart attack. According to Richards, Stewart's death left the band without a moderating force that could have helped during a period which, according to Richards, he and Jagger waged "WW III". By 1985, Jagger was spending more time on solo recordings and much of the material on 1986's Dirty Work (UK #4; US #4) was by Keith Richards, with more contributions by Ron Wood than on previous Stones albums. Rumors surfaced of the two rarely, if ever, being in the studio at the same time and Richards trying to keep it all afloat. Jagger refused to tour in support of the record feeling that several band members — including Charlie Watts who was fighting a heroin addiction — were in no shape to tour. Reviews were mixed although many fans at this time feel it was the nadir of the group. The Stones were awarded a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Jagger's solo records, She's the Boss (UK #6; US #13) (1985) and Primitive Cool (UK #26; US #41) (1987)), met with moderate success, yet Richards disparaged both. With the Stones inactive due to Jagger's solo career and feeling he was backed into a corner, Richards released his first solo album in 1988, Talk Is Cheap (UK #37; US #24), which fans and critics received well, going Gold in US. Included on the Talk Is Cheap album was the song "You Don't Move Me", Richards' stab at his estranged songwriting partner.

In early 1989, The Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jagger and Richards appeared to have developed a new understanding and they recorded an album as The Rolling Stones, which became Steel Wheels (UK #2; US #3). Heralded as a return to form, it included the singles "Mixed Emotions", "Rock and a Hard Place" and "Almost Hear You Sigh". Additionally, the album included "Continental Drift" which included musicians from the Moroccan mountain village of Jajouka with whom Brian Jones had recorded and released a record.

The subsequent US Steel Wheels Tour saw the Stones touring for the first time in seven years (since Europe 1982), and it was their biggest stage production to date. The opening acts were Living Colour and Guns N' Roses. By the time the tour reached Europe in 1990, the name had been changed to the Urban Jungle Tour. Recordings from the tour produced the 1991 live album Flashpoint (UK #6; US #16). The live album included two songs recorded in 1991, the single "Highwire" and "Sex Drive". This tour was the last for Bill Wyman who, after years of deliberation and increasing unwillingness to tour any longer, left the band, although it was not made official until 1993. He then published Stone Alone, an autobiography, based on memoirs he had been writing since the early days in London.


After the successes of Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours, the band took a break. Charlie Watts released two jazz albums; Ronnie Wood made his fifth solo album, the first in 11 years, called Slide On This; Keith Richards released his second solo album in late 1992, Main Offender (UK #45; US #99) and did a small tour including big concerts in Spain and Argentina. Mick Jagger got good reviews and sales with his third solo album Wandering Spirit (UK #12; US #11). The album sold more than two million copies worldwide, going Gold in US.

After Wyman's departure, the Stones' new distributor/record label, Virgin Records, remastered and repackaged the band's back catalogue from Sticky Fingers to Steel Wheels without the three live albums, and issued another hits compilation in 1993 entitled Jump Back (UK #16; US #30). By 1993 the Stones set upon their next studio album. Watts chose Darryl Jones, former sideman of Miles Davis and Sting, as Wyman's replacement for 1994's Voodoo Lounge (UK #1; US #2). The album met strong reviews and sales, going double platinum in the US. Reviewers took note of the album's "traditionalist" sounds, which were credited to the Stones' new producer Don Was. It would go on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.

1994 also brought the accompanying Voodoo Lounge Tour, which lasted into 1995. Various recorded shows and rehearsals (mostly acoustic) made up Stripped (UK #9; US #9), which featured a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", as well as infrequently played songs like "Shine a Light", "Sweet Virginia" and "The Spider and the Fly".

The Rolling Stones ended the 90s with the album Bridges to Babylon (UK #6; US #3), released in 1997 to mixed reviews. Despite the lack of a hit single from the album, sales were reasonably equivalent to those of previous records, and the subsequent international tour Bridges to Babylon Tour that crossed Europe, North America and other destinations proved the band to be a strong live attraction. Once again, a live album was culled from the tour, No Security (UK #67; US #34), only this time all but two songs ("Live With Me" and "The Last Time") were previously unreleased on live albums. In 1999, the Stones staged the No Security Tour in the US and continued and finished the Babylon Tour in Europe. The No Security Tour was a stripped down affair without all the pyrotechnics and mammoth stages.


In late 2001, Mick Jagger released his fourth solo album Goddess in the Doorway (UK #44; US #39), which met mixed reviews. Keith Richards called the album "Dogshit in the Doorway". Jagger and Richards took part in "The Concert for New York City", performing "Salt of the Earth" and "Miss You" with a backing band.

In 2002, the band announced the Licks Tour and released Forty Licks (UK #2; US #2), a greatest hits album that contained four new songs recorded with the latter-day core band of Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, Leavell and Jones. The same year, Q magazine named The Rolling Stones as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die", and the 2002-2003 Licks Tour gave people that chance. On July 30, 2003, the band headlined the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to help the city — which they had frequently used for rehearsals — recover from the 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert was attended by an estimated 490,000 people.

On November 9, 2003, the band played its first concert in Hong Kong as part of the Harbour Fest celebration, also in support of the SARS-affected economy. In November of 2003, the band exclusively licensed the right to sell their new 4-DVD boxed set, Four Flicks, recorded on the band's most recent world tour, to the US Best Buy chain of stores. In response, some Canadian and US music retail chains (including HMV Canada and Circuit City) pulled Rolling Stones CDs and related merchandise from their shelves and replaced them with signs explaining the situation.

On July 26, 2005, Jagger's birthday, the band announced the name of their new album, A Bigger Bang (UK #2; US #3), which was released on September 6 to strong reviews, including a glowing write-up in Rolling Stone (noted for its consistent support of the group). The album included the most controversial song from the Stones in years, "Sweet Neo Con", a criticism of American Neo-conservatism from Jagger. The song was reportedly almost dropped from the album due to objections from Richards, who prefers to avoid overtly political or topical songs because he believes such songs rarely stand the test of time.

The subsequent A Bigger Bang Tour began in August 2005, and visited North America, South America and East Asia. In February 2006, the group played the half-time show of Super Bowl XL in the USA. By the end of 2005, the Bigger Bang Tour set a record of $162 million in gross receipts, breaking the North American mark also set by the Stones in 1994. Later that month, the band played to a claimed 1.5 million on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro in a free concert. After performances in New Zealand, Keith Richards went to hospital on May 2006 for brain surgery after a dubious "fall from a coconut tree" on Fiji, causing a six-week postponement of the European leg of the tour.

The following month, it was reported that Ron Wood was entering rehabilitation for alcohol abuse. The Stones returned to North America for concerts in September 2006, and returned to Europe on June 5, 2007. By November 2006, the Bigger Bang Tour had been declared the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning $437 million. The North American leg brought in the third-highest receipts ever ($138.5 million), trailing their own 2005 tour ($162 million) and the U2 tour of that same year ($138.9 million). The Stones show in Horsens, Denmark, drew 85,000 people, the largest audience at any show on the scheduled part of the tour.

In December 2006, a commercial for a credit card used the Stones song "I'm Free" as the background music. In late October 2006, filmmaker Martin Scorsese filmed the Stones at New York City's Beacon Theater, featuring an audience that included several world leaders, for release in 2008 titled Shine a Light. On March 24, 2007, the band announced a tour of Europe called the Bigger Bang 2007 tour. June 12, 2007 saw the release of the Stones' second four-disc DVD set entitled The Biggest Bang, a seven-hour document featuring the band's shows in Austin, Rio de Janeiro, Saitama, Japan, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires, as well as extras. As with their first DVD set, the collection will be sold exclusively through Best Buy.

On June 10, 2007, the band performed their first gig at a festival in 30 years, at the Isle of Wight Festival, to a crowd of 50,000. On August 26, 2007 they played their last concert of the A Bigger Bang Tour. Mick Jagger released a compilation of his solo work called The Very Best Of Mick Jagger including new songs on October 2, 2007. Rumours for a new tour in 2008 were confirmed by Ronnie Wood in a recent interview.

On September 26, 2007, it was announced The Rolling Stones had made $437 million on the A Bigger Bang Tour to list them in the latest edition of Guinness World Record.


Richard Dion



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