Time Is On Their Side: The Rolling Stones

Copyright: Riksarkivet (National Archives of Norway)

Time Is On Their Side:

Fifty Plus Years of The Rolling Stones

When you think about the original badass band from the British Invasion era, The Rolling Stones invariably comes to mind. In an époque where the Beatles’ popularity in the international arena spread like wildfire, a marketing expert who doubled as their band manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, decided to rebrand a particular group of a young, well-educated, middle-class musicians. The band had just started to enjoy success on the other side of Atlantic, as yet another wholesome boy band from London.

Post-transformation however, gone was the former image, replaced by the persuasive message of their new bad boys’ persona we have come to admire, made up of front man Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards, guitarist Brian Jones, drummer Charlie Watts, keyboard player Ian Stewart and bassist Bill Wyman. 

The band turned out to be a lethal combination, producing hits after hits, over the course of more than fifty years. Jagger and Richards are a perfect songwriting duo and the cohesiveness of the band’s rhythm was best described by The Rolling Stone magazine, “Everything Keith Richards plays… pushes the music forward. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts catch Keith’s momentum and swing with it…Wyman meshes so tightly into the grooves that much of the time you don’t even hear him; if he dropped out, however, you’d notice right away.”

Oldham was responsible for some of the band’s most memorable headlines and titles, including “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” in a British newspaper, and the perennial hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. He was also instrumental in safeguarding the band’s early business interests by signing them with Decca Records at a higher royalty rate than the Beatles did with EMI.

Copyright:Steve Carr

While the Beatles went through a long and winding period of suing EMI for decades of missed royalty payments, The Rolling Stones kept on hiring talented managers to build their brand, decade after decade. Prince Rupert Loewenstein was their financial advisor from 1968-2007.

Perceived to be the mastermind of the Stones’ business dealings, he was credited to have made the band rich, financially successful and a global brand. In the early years, he convinced the Stones to forsake their UK residence and moved to the South of France in order to get away from the daunting British tax and surcharge.

Keith Richards and Prince Rupert Loewenstein

Copyright: Richard Young/Rex Features

To say that The Rolling Stones have enjoyed a successful career is an understatement. Much of their music is timeless and not only recognizable, but often associated to a period of cultural liberation and change. Paint It, Black evokes memories of the Vietnam War due to its usage in Oliver Stone’s film Full Metal Jacket  and as a theme song in a CBS TV series Tour of Duty.

Microsoft used Start Me Up to launch Windows 95. Martin Scorsese is such a big fan of the band, he’s filmed and made a documentary based on The Stones’ 2008 Bigger Bang tour called Shine A Light. In 2016, The Stones released Blue & Lonesome, paying homage to their love of American blues, reminiscent of their early days as a band. These guys might be half a century older, but the Rock Royalty is still going strong.

It’s not just the band that continues to tour, but also their official exhibition. Currently in Sydney, Australia, Exhibitionism is described as “an immersive 3D exhibit displays the Rolling Stone’s legendary influence of more than 50 years in music, pop culture, fashion, art and film, with over 500 rare and priceless items to view”.

You don’t have to travel all the way to Australia to catch a glimpse of The Stones: in January 2019, Bill Wyman, bassist for the Rolling Stones from 1963-1993 will be conducting a Q&A at WORLDWEBFORUM 2019. Wyman is currently promoting his current project, “The Quiet One”. If you could ask Wyman a question about his thirty years with The Stones, what would it be?