Sent in: The Stones – through the past darkly

Rolling Stones - London Hyde Park II 2022

Hi there, folks! Christopher J. just sent in this piece of work – his thoughts about the band on it’s way through the decades. He sent this in with the intention to discuss his opinion.
So if you would like to comment on this, feel free to do so! 🙂

Here is Christopher’s text:

If you ask me, the Stones were in fact 3 installments of 1 band and it’s not Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, Ron Wood – although it could be close in the studio but these installments went something like this. And I’m writing this for debate.

1. The Stones in the 60’s – Keith says it all when he says I was a pop star once. Primarily a studio band. Learning as they go, developing into something never seen before, looking for the right pieces. The core is in tact and it looks like this, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart,.

2. The Stones 1970-1982. The Greatest Rock and Roll band in the world, writing the rules for Rock as they go. Putting the right people in place and playing to their strengths. It all comes together with the addition of Ronnie Wood. The creation of Rolling Stones records and the dismissal of previous management gives them creative control over the band and their future. The building phase is complete. Without a doubt a truly great studio band, although not as successful on the charts as they were in the 1960’s … they aren’t pop stars leading a generation anymore either. Every time the band toured it was a big deal. Even when they sucked live they were great.

Then came the hiatus. Many people blamed it on a feud between Mick and Keith which was always there. Keith never misses a chance to take a shot at Mick and Mick never passes up an opportunity inside or outside of the Stones. I’m not sure the band even realized it themselves, Keith said he was blasted out of his mind into the 80’s and didn’t do any of the office work handled by Mick. When Keith came back down out of the stratosphere he wanted to make up for most time and pull his fair share of the weight but Mick didn’t want help. If you ask me what kept the Stones off the road until 1989 was a sad unfortunate event and it was the death of Ian Stewart. If you’ve ever been in a band you know that there isn’t just one quarterback. You have several. You have your quarterback off stage, booking gigs and taking care of finances, your quarterback on stage, the true leader of the band on stage, and you have your musical quarterback, in a lot of bands this was either the bass player or the piano player. Bill Wyman always looked bored and not having Stew around probably led to his retirement ultimately after Steel Wheels. Bill was Stu’s friend. The Stones had to learn how to be a band again. Which brings me to…

3. The Rolling Stones post Ian Stewart, 1989 – present. I don’t even want to discuss post Charlie Watts but it’s the same band musically, just not as good. Ian Stewart was the musical director of The Rolling Stones since its creation. A core member. The brains and talent behind the scenes. The reason why they didn’t tour between Tattoo You and Steel Wheels was not because Mick and Keith didn’t get along, they never did, it was because they lost Stu. In comes Chuck Leavell, the current musical director of the Stones and you have the third version of the Stones. In fact there is video on YoutTube of the Stones rehearsals in France circa 1985. Chuck Leavell is there.

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This version didn’t come into its own until the late 90’s, Bill Wyman retired and they hired Darryl Jones who might be a better bass player live than Wyman but not as an original bass player as Wyman. Jones plays more or a traditional Chicago back beat whereas Wyman was in a league all his own. For this installment of the Stones, post Ian Stewart, Darryl came into his own and they were good on the VooDoo lounge tour but by Bridges to Babylon they were something else, a reinvented Rolling Stones where Chuck Leavell, Darryl Jones, Lisa Fischer, Tim Ries, and Bernard Fowler became just as intricate to the band on the road as Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie. If the Stones hire the wrong people after the death of Ian Stewart they are not who they are today.

Now I know Chuck has been with the Stones since 1982 and Ian Stewart didn’t always play every song on stage with them on every tour. I know people are going to correct me. But it’s my opinion and that’s what it is – it is an opinion and my point being that the Stones invented themselves 3 times.
1. Brian Jones starts the band and the 1960’s
2. 1970-1982 Ian Stewart is a major part of The Rolling Stones on the road and in the studio.
3 Post Ian Stewart. Chuck Leavell was the start of what the band has become today. Jumping Jack Flash doesn’t sound today like it did in 1975 or 1968. Get off my Cloud is not the same song today as it was in the early 60’s certainly not in the 70’s.

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