The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in 1962 in London when guitarist and harmonica player Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart were joined by vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early lineup. Their first manager Andrew Loog Oldham declared Stewart to be "ugly" and had him removed from the official lineup in 1963 as Stewart continued as the band's road manager and occasional keyboardist until his death in 1985. After signing to Decca Records in 1963, Oldham changed the spelling of their name changed from "the Rollin' Stones" to "the Rolling Stones."
In 1963 Jagger and Richards formed a songwriting partnership and eventually took over leadership of the band as Jones became increasingly troubled and erratic. After recording mainly covers of American blues and R&B songs, every studio record since the 1966 album Aftermath has featured mainly Jagger/Richards songs. Mick Taylor replaced Jones shortly before Jones's death in 1969. Taylor quit in 1974, and was replaced in 1975 by Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood, who has remained with the band ever since. Wyman left the Rolling Stones in 1992, and Darryl Jones, who is not an official band member, has been the primary bassist since 1994.
First popular in the UK , The Rolling Stones toured the US repeatedly during the early 1960s "British Invasion". The Rolling Stones have released 22 studio albums in the UK (24 in the US), eight concert albums (nine in the US) and numerous compilations; and have album sales estimated at more than 200 million worldwide. Sticky Fingers (1971) began a string of eight consecutive studio albums reaching number one in the United States. Their latest album, A Bigger Bang, was released in 2005. In 1989 The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004 they ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked The Rolling Stones at number ten on "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists", making them as the second most successful group in the history of Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The Rolling Stones are notable in modern popular music for assimilating various musical genres into their recording and performance, ultimately making the styles their very own. The band's career is marked by a continual reference and reliance on musical styles like American blues, country, folk, reggae, dance; world music exemplified by the Master Musicians of Jajouka; as well as traditional English styles that use stringed instrumentation like harps. The band cut their musical teeth by covering early rock and roll and blues songs, and have never stopped playing live or recording cover songs.
Jagger and Richards shared an admiration of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Little Walter, and their interest influenced Brian Jones, of whom Richards says, "He was more into T-Bone Walker and jazz-blues stuff. We'd turn him onto Chuck Berry and say, 'Look, it's all the same shit, man, and you can do it.'" Charlie Watts, a traditional jazz drummer, was also turned onto the blues after his introduction to the Stones. "Keith and Brian turned me on to Jimmy Reed and people like that. I learned that Earl Phillips was playing on those records like a jazz drummer, playing swing, with a straight four..."
Jagger, recalling when he first heard the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino and other major American R&B artists, said it "seemed the most real thing" he had heard up to that point. Similarly, Keith Richards, describing the first time he listened to Muddy Waters, said it was the "most powerful music [he had] ever heard...the most expressive."
Despite the Rolling Stones' predilection for blues and R&B numbers on their early live setlists, the first original compositions by the band reflected a more wide-ranging interest. The first Jagger/Richards single, "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)," is called by critic Richie Unterberger a "pop/rock ballad... When [Jagger and Richards] began to write songs, they were usually not derived from the blues, but were often surprisingly fey, slow, Mersey-type pop numbers." "As Tears Go By," the ballad originally written for Marianne Faithfull, was one of the first songs written by Jagger and Richards and also one of many written by the duo for other artists. Jagger said of the song, "It's a relatively mature song considering the rest of the output at the time. And we didn't think of [recording] it, because the Rolling Stones were a butch blues group." The Stones did later record a version which became a top five hit in the US.
On the early experience, Richards said, "The amazing thing is that although Mick and I thought these songs were really puerile and kindergarten-time, every one that got put out made a decent showing in the charts. That gave us extraordinary confidence to carry on, because at the beginning songwriting was something we were going to do in order to say to Andrew [Loog Oldham], 'Well, at least we gave it a try...'" Jagger said, "We were very pop-orientated. We didn't sit around listening to Muddy Waters; we listened to everything. In some ways it's easy to write to order... Keith and I got into the groove of writing those kind of tunes; they were done in ten minutes. I think we thought it was a bit of a laugh, and it turned out to be something of an apprenticeship for us."
The writing of the single "The Last Time," The Rolling Stones' first major single, proved a turning point. Richards called it "a bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence; a pathway of how to do it." The song was based on a traditional gospel song popularised by The Staples Singers, but the Rolling Stones' number features a distinctive guitar riff (played on stage by Brian Jones).