London July 12, 1962
From The Writer’s Almanac:
Fifty years ago, a band called The Rollin’ Stones played their first gig.
A few months before, guitarist Brian Jones placed an ad in Jazz News, a local nightclub newsletter, announcing auditions for a rhythm-and-blues band. Two London flatmates named Mick Jagger and Keith Richards joined the band.
Jagger and Richards had gone to primary school together in Kent but lost touch. They ran into each other on a train in 1960 and renewed their friendship. They both loved blues and had formed a band of their own: Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.
They had encountered Jones a few times at the Ealing Jazz Club and occasionally jammed together. Jones coined the new band’s name. He was on the phone with the Jazz News, who asked him what his band was called. He glanced at a Muddy Waters album lying on the floor. One track was “Rollin’ Stone Blues.”
The band was christened.
London’s Marquee Club hosted a variety of jazz and skiffle acts. But on the night of July 12, their headliners — Blues Incorporated — couldn’t play their regular gig.
Jagger, Jones and Richards went on instead, along with Ian Stewart on keyboard, Dick Taylor on bass, and Mick Avory on drums. The Stones opened with the Leiber and Stoller song “Kansas City, and also played rock and roll hits like Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.”
A year later, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman replaced Avory and Taylor. Ian Stewart became road manager. The Rolling Stones’ new manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, marketed them as the blue-collar, bad boy antithesis to the suit-wearing Beatles with their relatively wholesome image. The Stones released their first single in June 1963, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On.”
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