The recent passing of Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones drummer, brought back teenage memories from the year 1963. I was fifteen and about to drop out of high school later that year.
My brother Harry, some time before, told me of the new band that was forming and how he would have get togethers with them to play blues records and have fun. Harry was seven years older than me and what they now call a “tastemaker”.
The Stones released their first single “Come On” in June of 1963 and I went to my local record store in Clapham Junction, London and duly bought it.
I wasn’t thrilled with what I heard because it wasn’t as well recorded as the Chess Records blues releases I was hearing. Upon reading articles on the internet yesterday, I see that The Stones themselves probably weren’t too happy with it either … apparently, they stopped playing the song at live shows after only a few weeks even though it charted well.
I then saw The Rolling Stones live on the bill of a package show that was traveling around the country. It may have been Bo Diddley headlining or at least it would have been a big American star of that ilk. Package shows at the time consisted of a half-dozen acts or more and everyone played for about twenty or thirty minutes.
Again, probably because of the sound, I wasn’t totally impressed with the band but I continued to be a fan because they were playing the music by the US artists that I loved.
Eventually, as you know, they would have a number one hit with the Willie Dixon song ‘Little Red Rooster’. Brian Jones played wicked slide guitar on that release. In those early days, Brian had the “look” and came across, to me at least, as the face of the band. He had an enigmatic expression, a great haircut and was very musicianly.
Jones had a similar charisma as Jet Harris who, earlier, had played bass with The Shadows.
The song writing of Mick Jagger and Keith Richard took over and, of course, as time went on, their great songs propelled them forward to become popular music giants.
I did eventually drop out of school; possibly as a result of The Stones’ influence in ‘63. I wanted to do what they were doing … play blues music.
My favorite Rolling Stones album is “Beggars Banquet” and I think I will leave you and go play that now!
NY August 2021