It may seem as though the Rolling Stones have been around forever, and that is actually relatively true. The band is set to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2022, having been formed in 1962, and despite the four band members all being in their 70s, there is no sign of them stopping or retiring, with legendary guitarist Keith Richards having said as much recently.
Richards actually joked recently that he ‘might get a new wheelchair’ to celebrate the milestone in two years, alluding to his advanced age, but did also say that the thought of how to celebrate it hadn’t occurred to him yet. He joked again in a different interview that the band’s primary aim for that anniversary is to be alive for it. That may actually be a sensible plan, given that Richards himself is 76, Charlie Watts is 79, Ronnie Wood is 73 and Sir Mick Jagger is 77. Of course, the band continues to surprise even at this age – recently, they released ‘Scarlet’, a previously-unreleased song collaboration with Jimmy Page, while, interestingly enough, there is an anniversary approaching for one of their songs as well.
The 1972 album Exile on Main St. had Tumbling Dice as its lead single, and thus 2022 will also mark the 50th anniversary of that song, which is probably one of the best gambling songs ever. It was originally called ‘Good Time Woman’, with Jagger apparently changing the name on the recommendation of his housekeeper. She told him all about her love of gambling and dice, and Jagger was able to make a song out of that. He has also said that the song was written to fit around Richards’ riff, and it has a blues rhythm.
It’s also interesting to look at one of the Stones’ live performances from 2012, which was a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the band. They did a mini-tour that year to celebrate, and brought out a number of guests on each of their performance nights as well. One such event, in New Jersey, saw Lady Gaga coming on to sing the female parts on ‘Gimme Shelter’, while the Black Keys assisted on ‘Who Do You Love?’. However, the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for when the band called upon Bruce Springsteen. The legend is from New Jersey, and so it was no surprise that the audience went crazy for their home star. It was made even more memorable by the band then launching into ‘Tumbling Dice’ along with Springsteen. It remains a huge classic, and is apparently one of Springsteen’s favourites as well, which reflected on the decision to bring him on and play it. Despite Jimmy Miller taking over from Charlie Watts for some part of the song, it does not detract from it and has remained a classic for years now.
However, it is illuminating to read about how difficult it actually was to record the song for the album back in the ‘70s. Recording engineer Andy Johns has likened the process to ‘pulling teeth’ given the amount of time it took to get an acceptable version, and he has said there are probably anywhere between 30 and 100 reels of tape of the base version of the song. Jagger has also claimed that he has not liked the final mix of the song that went out on the album, saying that ‘they used the wrong mix for that one.’ While Jagger may have been disappointed with the final cut, it has certainly proven to be popular with fans, and despite being 50 years old, has stood the test of time to be a classic Rolling Stones song.