Their first public performance as the “Rollin’ Stones” was at the Marquee Club in London, England in 1962. They named themselves after a Muddy Waters song from the 1950s and originally played variations of the blues. They were in competition with the Beatles throughout the 1960s until the “Fab Four” broke up in 1970. After the Beatles ceased to exist, the Stones became the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band” by default. Over the course of the next half century they proved that they really were the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band.” The band was originally comprised of Mick Jagger (lead vocals), Keith Richards (guitar), Brian Jones (guitar) Charlie Watts (drums), Bill Wyman (bass) and Ian Stewart (keyboards and road manager). Mick Taylor replaced Brian Jones on guitar for five years and then Ronnie Wood took over for the duration. Over the last 6 decades, the band has released nearly 100 albums comprised of an equal amount of studio, live, and compilation releases. This list is merely the tip of the iceberg that the reader can explore further.
10. Some Girls
The Rolling Stones’ 19th studio album Some Girls was released in 1978 during a dark period when the band seriously considered disbanding. Keith Richards had been arrested in Canada for “possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking” and faced prison. Mick Jagger had his own issues but the band doubled down and decided to keep on going. It was a #1 album in the US on the Billboard 200 and produced songs like “Beast of Burden,” “Shattered” and “Miss You.”
9. Steel Wheels
Steel Wheels was released in 1989 just before the collapse of Eastern European Communism. It was the 21st US studio album and the last one to include original bass player Bill Wyman. Ian Stewart, the Rolling Stones’ original keyboardist and road manager died just after the previous album Dirty Work was released, so this was the first one that didn’t include him. Mick & Keith patched things up and they did their first American tour promoting the album since 1981 with classic Jagger/Richards compositions like “Sad Sad Sad,” and “Mixed Emotions.”
8. It’s Only Rock & Roll
It’s Only Rock & Roll was 2nd guitarist Mick Taylor’s last album with the Rolling Stones before Ronnie Wood replaced him. Wood played 12 string guitar and contributed background vocals on some of the songs as well as being involved in co-writing the album’s title song. He willingly relinquished all credit for “It’s only rock & roll in exchange for Mick Jagger agreeing to appear on Wood’s upcoming solo album, which he did.
In April 1966, Aftermath was released and critics called it an artistic success. The US version of the album led off with “Paint It Black” which became their 3rd #1 hit in the USA. Brian Jones began experimenting with a variety of instruments on the album including a sitar on “Paint It Black” and a dulcimer on “Lady Jane.”
6. Their Satanic Majesties Request
When the album was released in December 1967 the immediate reaction was that they were copying the Beatles direction again. The album was without question influenced by Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band which was released just 7 months earlier. The original cover was a plastic flip image of the Rolling Stones dressed as medieval sorcerers and magicians as contrasted by the Beatles dressed as military musicians in front of 50 cardboard cutouts. The album itself was completely psychedelic and was extremely popular with hippies.
5. Blue and Lonesome
Blue and Lonesome is the “Rolling Stones” 25th US album and was released in 2016. It’s the band’s most recent release and is comprised of 100% blues standard covers that are as old as the Stones. The album was welcome and praised by both critics and fans because of the fact that the band began as a blues band and its most popular work is blues based. The album is a tribute to blues legends that contributed to Chicago blues in the 1950s and 1960s. It features covers by everyone from the artist that inspired their name, Muddy Waters to Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, and many others. The album was recorded in 3 days and reportedly resulted from “a warm up exercise for a postponed album of new material.” In 2018 it won a Grammy for “Best Traditional Blues Album.”
4. Between the Buttons
The album was released in the USA in 1967 and the result was positive as “Ruby Tuesday” became the “Rolling Stones” 4th #1 hit in America. “Let’s Spend the Night Together” had sexually offensive references for that period of time in America which accounted for its lack of popularity. Ed Sullivan asked the band to change the lyrics for their appearance on his show and they did but rolled their eyes while doing it. When the band finally played in mainland China for the first time in 2006 the government placed the same moral restrictions on them that the US did nearly 60 years earlier.
3. Out of Our Heads
Out of Our Heads was released in the Summer of 1965. It contained hits like “The Last Time” which was a variation on a gospel standard along with “Satisfaction,” which became their first #1 US hit, and “Play With Fire.”
2. Let It Bleed
Let It Bleed is the 10th studio album and was released on December 5, 1969 the day before the disastrous Altamont Festival that ended the reignited idealism of the 1960s for good. The album was a mirror image of the times with founding member Brian Jones being fired and replaced by Mick Taylor. The opening cut was the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter” as they acted as prophets for their generation.
1. Beggars Banquet
Every single song on Beggars Banquet, which was released in 1968 was a great song from “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Parachute Woman” to “Street Fighting Man” and “Salt of the Earth.” The film titled the “Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus” documents that time period. It was a period that augmented the dark side of the bad boys of rock and roll because of their alleged involvement with the occult.