The Rolling Stones are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first gig back on 12 July 1962. The Guardian reports:
|‘They looked like rock stars’… Keith Richards, left, and Brian Jones at the Marquee on 12 July 1962. Photograph: Pictorial Press/Alamy|
In the summer of 1962, the management of the Academy cinema on Oxford Street in London thought it wise to warn patrons that the film they were about to see, the big-screen adaptation of John Wyndham's novel about killer plants, The Day of the Triffids, "contained graphic horror" and "might prove disturbing to those of a nervous disposition". Today, Wyndham's mutant shrubs look blandly innocuous. But on the night of Thursday 12 July, in a basement club called the Marquee, just a few feet below the cinema where the Triffids was screening, something much more unsettling was about to get under way.A sober-suited crowd of about 80 men and 30 women were on hand to witness the Rolling Stones' first gig. There was a taste among both sexes for shapeless, utility-style clothes, stout shoes and goofy square glasses. (It's remarkable how many young men seemed to resemble Buddy Holly.) Based on the number of goatees in the photographs, many were also diehard jazz fans; those who were there report that the audience took some time to warm up to the Stones' 50-minute blast of American rhythm and blues.The band were officially billed as "Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones", although the lead vocalist was by no means their most compelling personality. Jagger, his Dartford Grammar schoolfriend Keith Richards, and the self-styled "Cheltenham Shagger" Brian Jones (who had recently come up with the group's name) were the front line. Jagger, who was still a student at the London School of Economics, wore a striped sweater and corduroys; Richards a funereally dark suit; while Jones pogoed up and down, leering at the women. Behind them was the already comically deadpan rhythm section, which for now comprised Richards's art-school friend Dick Taylor on bass and the future Kinks drummer Mick Avory, who sat in for the night. Jagger and Richards were 18 and living at home; Jones was 20; Ian Stewart, a 23-year-old shipping clerk, stood off to the side, eating a pork pie with one hand and playing piano in a loping, barrel-house style with the other.
We have to admire the longevity of the Stones, who were very much a part of our formative years. But seeing them on the telly this morning, Mick Jagger and his mates are certainly showing signs of age; Hardly surprising, given that they range in age from 68 to 75!
So this song choice seems especially appropriate, even if the words may no longer quite ring true:
Anyway, 50 years of R&B is deserving of a celebration, so well done to the Stones, even if they have gathered a bit of moss along the way!