50 years ago today, the Stones played their first gig at the Marquee Club in London.
When the nascent Rolling Stones began playing gigs around London in 1962, the notion that a rock & roll band would last five years, let alone fifty, was an absurdity. After all, what could possibly be more ephemeral than rock & roll, the latest teenage fad? Besides, other factors made it unlikely that such a momentous occasion would ever come to pass. “I didn’t expect to last until fifty myself, let alone with the Stones,” Keith Richards says with a laugh. “It’s incredible, really. In that sense we’re still living on borrowed time.”
“You have to put yourself back into that time,” Mick Jagger says about those early days when he and Keith and guitarist Brian Jones roomed together and were hustling gigs wherever they could find one. “Popular music wasn’t talked about on any kind of intellectual level. There was no such term as ‘popular culture.’ None of those things existed.”
“But suddenly popular music became bigger than it had ever been before. It became an important, perhaps the most important, art form of the period, after not at all being regarded as an art form before.” - Mick Jagger
Times and attitudes quickly changed, in short, and now five decades later, the Rolling Stones are celebrating an anniversary that artists in any field would be overjoyed to attain. Indeed, the Stones will be marking the fiftieth anniversary of their first gig at the Marquee Club in London on July 12, 1962 with a celebratory appearance at that storied venue, five decades later to the day.
At that first show, the group was billed as the Rollin’ Stones and, of what would become the band’s original lineup, only Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and keyboardist Ian Stewart performed. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts would formally join in January of 1963, and Stewart officially left the band in May, though he continued on as the Stones’ road manager and occasionally played with them both on stage and in the studio until his death in 1985.
A picture of the band taken yesterday in front of the Marquee Club.