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Music / The Rolling Stones

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The classic Sixties line-up of The Rolling Stones. From left to right: Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.

"I've decided to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions... Other than The Rolling Stones, what's my favourite group? Well, I guess I'm a real fan of The Free Credit Report Dot Com Band!"
Mick Jagger, Saturday Night Live, May 20, 2012

The Rolling Stones are a British blues-based rock band that has been described (first by stage manager Sam Cutler in 1969) as "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" and has been doing its best to justify the description for more than half a century.

The Stones were formed in London in June 1962, when guitarist and original leader Brian Jones recruited pianist Ian Stewart, followed by vocalist Mick Jagger, who brought along guitarist Keith Richards. After a series of fill-ins, bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts joined in January 1963, completing the first stable line-up. After recruiting Andrew Loog Oldham as their manager, Ian Stewart was removed from the official line-up, as Oldham felt that six members were too many, and Stewart was the odd one out image-wise. Stu took the demotion admirably well and continued to work with the band as road manager and main pianist and keyboardist until his death in 1985.


The band's early recordings largely consisted of covers of American blues and R&B songs. The earliest songs written by the band were credited under the pseudonym Nanker/Phlege. After first achieving success in the UK with a cover of Lennon and McCartney's "I Wanna Be Your Man" in late 1963, they crossed the Atlantic as part of the first wave of The British Invasion in 1964. However, their first U.S. tour was famously a disaster, where the band had no major hit to tour on, were mocked by Dean Martin on national TV, and regularly failed to sell tickets well. Their big breakthrough came in 1965, when their singles "The Last Time" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as well as their third album Out of Our Heads shot the Stones into superstardom on both sides of the pond. By this time, Jagger and Richards had taken the leadership role from Jones in the group, largely on the strength of their now-fertile songwriting partnership.


Starting with their 1966 album Aftermath, the songs of Jagger and Richards, aided by the instrumental experimentation of Jones, expanded an always-present stylistic flexibility. The experimentation continued through 1967 with the baroque pop album Between the Buttons and climaxed with the polarising Their Satanic Majesties Request and the single "We Love You". 1967 proved to be an important year for the Stones, which came close to breaking up. Jagger, Jones, and Richards were all hit by drug busts, which would have a devastating impact on Jones in particular. Oldham, who had worked as their manager and producer since 1963, quit around this time, as he felt that his partnership with the Stones had run its course. This led to the Stones self-producing Satanic Majesties.

In 1968, the band recruited Jimmy Miller as a record producer and chose to return to a back-to-basics approach to their music after the psychedelic excesses from the previous year. Beggars Banquet proved to be the last hurrah for Brian Jones, who was hit by another drug bust, and stopped making major contributions to the band's music. His health had also been affected by drug use, and as a result of the drug busts, he was unable to gain a visa to tour in America. Jones's final contributions to the band were autoharp on "You Got the Silver" and percussion on "Midnight Rambler" from Let It Bleed. Matters soon came to a head, and Jones was forced to leave the band he had founded and named, replaced by Mick Taylor. Jones sadly drowned several weeks after departure, just a few days before Taylor had his first gig with the Stones - at Hyde Park, which was transformed into a tribute for Jones. Taylor recorded five studio albums with the band before quitting in 1974. Former Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood stepped in, became an official member in February 1976 and has been with the band ever since. Wyman quit in 1993; bassist Darryl Jones, who is not an official band member, has worked with the group since then.

They have released 23 studio albums in the UK (25 in the US), 19 live albums and numerous compilations; and have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. Sticky Fingers from 1971 began a string of eight straight studio albums that charted at number one in the United States. In 1989, The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004 and again in 2011, they were ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Their image of unkempt and surly youth (originally cultivated in large part to contrast them with The Beatles) is one that many musicians still emulate. The band's attitude and style was a major influence on Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, and Alternative Rock bands that followed them.

For the Heinlein novel, see The Rolling Stones.

Principal members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Mick Jagger - lead vocals, harmonica, guitar, percussion, tambourine, piano, keyboards, maracas, castanets, bass (1962–)
  • Brian Jones - guitar, backing vocals, harmonica, percussion, organ, keyboard, harpsichord, marimba, sitar, dulcimer, koto, vibraphone, recorder, saxophone, oscillator, mellotron, flute, brass, tamboura, trumpet, congas, autoharp, banjo, mandolin, bass, clarinet, xylophone, glockenspiel, harp, tabla (1962–69, died 1969)
  • William Perks (Bill Wyman) - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar, organ pedals, double bass, piano, percussion, maracas, autoharp, vibes, synthesizer, marimba (1962–93) note 
  • Keith Richards - guitar, backing and lead vocals, piano, organ, bass, double bass, bicycle spokes, tambourine (1962–)
  • Ian "Stu" Stewart - piano, keyboard, organ, percussion (1962–63, died 1985) note 
  • Mick Taylor - guitar, backing vocals, bass, synthesizer, congas (1969–74) note 
  • Charlie Watts - drums, percussion, tabla, cowbell, clave, tambourine (1963–)
  • Ronnie Wood - guitar, backing vocals, bass, bass drum, drums, saxophone, dobro (1976–)

Early Members/Fill-Ins:

  • Mick Avory - drums (1962)
  • Tony Chapman - drums (1962-1963)
  • Ricky Fenson - bass (1962-1963)
  • Colin Golding - bass (1962-1963)
  • Carlo Little - drums (1962-1963, died 2005)
  • Dick Taylor - bass (1962)

Studio Discography:

Live Discography:

  • 1965 - Got Live If You Want It! (EP) note 
  • 1966 - Got Live If You Want It! note 
  • 1970 - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert
  • 1977 - Love You Live
  • 1982 - "Still Life" (American Concert 1981)
  • 1991 - Flashpoint note 
  • 1995 - Stripped
  • 1996 - The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus note 
  • 1998 - No Security
  • 2004 - Live Licks
  • 2008 - Shine a Light
  • 2011 - Brussels Affair (Live 1973)
  • 2011 - Some Girls: Live in Texas '78
  • 2012 - Hampton Coliseum (Live 1981)
  • 2012 - L.A. Friday (Live 1975)
  • 2012 - Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 note 
  • 2012 - Live at the Tokyo Dome note 
  • 2012 - Light the Fuse note 
  • 2012 - Live at Leeds note 
  • 2013 - Hyde Park Live

Non-album singles:

  • 1963 - Come On
    • I Want to Be Loved as the B-side
  • 1963 - I Wanna Be Your Man
    • Stoned as the B-side
  • 1964 - Not Fade Away note 
    • Little by Little as the UK B-side note 
      • I Wanna Be Your Man as the US B-side note 
  • 1964 - It's All Over Now note 
    • Good Times, Bad Times as the B-side note 
  • 1964 - Time Is on My Side note 
    • Congratulations as the B-side note 
  • 1964 - Little Red Rooster note 
    • Off the Hook as the B-side note 
  • 1965 - The Last Time note 
    • Play with Fire as the B-Side note 
  • 1965 - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction note 
    • The Spider and the Fly as the UK B-side note 
      • The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man as the US B-side note 
  • 1965 - Get Off of My Cloud note 
    • The Singer Not the Song as the UK B-side note 
      • I'm Free as the US B-side note 
  • 1965 - As Tears Go By note 
    • Gotta Get Away as the B-side note 
  • 1966 - 19th Nervous Breakdown
    • As Tears Go By as the UK B-side note 
      • Sad Day as the US B-side
  • 1966 - Paint It Black note 
    • Long Long While as the UK B-side
      • Stupid Girl as the US B-side note 
  • 1966 - Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?
    • Who's Driving Your Plane as the B-side
  • 1967 - Let's Spend the Night Together note 
    • Ruby Tuesday as a double A-side note 
  • 1967 - We Love You
    • Dandelion as the B-side
  • 1968 - Jumpin' Jack Flash
    • Child Of The Moon as the B-side
  • 1969 - Honky Tonk Women
    • You Can't Always Get What You Want as the B-side note 
  • 1974 - It's Only Rock 'n Roll note 
    • Through the Lonely Nights as the B-side
  • 1975 - I Don't Know Why
    • Try a Little Harder as the B-side
  • 1975 - Out of Time note 
    • Jiving Sister Fanny as the B-side
  • 1978 - Shattered note 
    • Everything Is Turning to Gold as the B-side
  • 1981 - If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt.2)
    • Dance (Instrumental) as the B-side
  • 1984 - She Was Hot note 
    • I Think I'm Going Mad as the B-side
  • 1989 - Mixed Emotions note 
    • Fancy Man Blues as the B-side
  • 1989 - Rock and a Hard Place note 
    • Cook Cook Blues as the B-side
  • 1989 - Terrifying note 
    • Wish I'd Never Met You as the B-side
  • 1994 - Love Is Strong note 
    • The Storm as the first B-side
      • So Young as the second B-side note 
  • 1994 - You Got Me Rocking note 
    • Jump on Top of Me as the B-side
  • 1994 - Out of Tears note 
    • I'm Gonna Drive as the first B-side
      • Sparks Will Fly and So Young as the second and third B-side note 
  • 1998 - Saint Of Me note 
    • Anyway You Look At It as the first B-side
      • Gimme Shelter and Anybody Seen My Baby as the second and third B-side note 
  • 2002 - Don't Stop
    • Miss You as the B-side note 
  • 2012 - Doom and Gloom
    • Doom and Gloom as the B-side note 
  • 2013 - One More Shot
    • One More Shot as the B-side note 

The Rolling Stones are the Trope Namers for:

"Now you can't always trope what you want...":

  • Album Single: Many in a career spanning fifty years, including classics like "Paint it, Black", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", and "Wild Horses".
  • The Alcoholic: Ronnie Wood: You know you have a drinking problem when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards need to talk to you about it.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Totally Averted, Charlie is almost certainly the calmest, most level headed member of the group, along with Bill Wyman.
  • Always Someone Better: Now, we're not saying The Stones are bad (of course they are legends), but they were often overshadowed throughout the years they were active: The Beatles in the '60s, Led Zeppelin in the '70s, Michael Jackson in the '80s, Nirvana in the '90s, etc.
  • Anthropomorphic Vice: "Sister Morphine", which also mentions "sweet Cousin Cocaine".
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: The Beggars Banquet cover. Decca Records found it so offensive at the time that they refused to use it, substituting a plain white cover with a fake dinner invitation instead. The bathroom cover would eventually be restored for the album's CD reissue. The controversy over the intended cover led to the album's release being delayed by several months... during which another little-known English pop group happened to release a double album with an all-white cover of their own. This led to the Stones being accused of ripping off said album cover come the release of Banquet, while they themselves never had anything to do with it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Charlie Watts (the quiet, well-dressed, groupie-spurning one, and a notable aversion of the All Drummers Are Animals trope) was awoken one night by Mick Jagger (who was drunk) calling his room asking where "my drummer" was. Watts proceeded to get up, shave and dress in a pressed suit. He then walked down to Jagger's room and sent him flying with what Keith Richards called "a great fucking right hook". Jagger flew into a table and nearly slid out the window before Richards grabbed his leg. Watts yelled, "Don't ever call me 'your drummer' again, you're my fucking singer!" and left.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: "Shattered" ("Go ahead, bite the Big Apple. Don't mind the maggots.")
    "All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter 'bout
    Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta — I can't give it away on 7th Avenue"
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: "Brown Sugar."
  • Born During a Storm: "Jumping Jack Flash" was "born in a cross-fire hurricane, and [howled] at [his] ma in the driving rain," which was only the beginning to the man's tumultuous and exciting life.
  • Break-Up Song: "Angie", which Mick wrote based on things going downhill with Marianne Faithful.
  • Camp Straight: Mick Jagger. Very flamboyant on and off stage, had eight children with five women.
  • The Casanova: Bill Wyman. By his own estimate, he slept with over 1,000 women.
    • Don't let Mick Jagger fool you. The man has probably never been turned down once in his entire life.
  • Chronological Album Title: The Rolling Stones No. 2, their second UK album.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Star Star". It was originally called "Starfucker", but had the title changed after Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun managed to get them to do so. He couldn't make them remove the profanity though.
    • Also "Andrew's Blues," a drunken outtake from 1964 where the Stones (with Gene Pitney, Phil Spector, and the Hollies' Graham Nash and Allan Clarke) pay tribute to their manager Andrew Loog Oldham in the most profane way possible.
  • Concept Album: Their Satanic Majesties Request
  • Control Freak: Jagger has the reputation of being one of these.
  • Country Music: They have written a sizeable number of songs in this genre of varying degrees of sincerity. From Sticky Fingers we have the example of "Dead Flowers" which is an Anti-Love Song featuring deliberately trashy musicianship intended to sound like the band members themselves were trashed when they recorded it. The same album also contains the example of "Wild Horses", which is played completely seriously and, like many of the best songs of the genre, is utterly heartbreaking.
  • Cover Album: Blue & Lonesome, the band's first all-cover work, with some old blues...
  • Cover Version: ...bringing back a tradition of the band's old days. Their first singles were Chuck Berry's "Come On" and The Beatles' "I Wanna Be Your Man", their debut album has only one Jagger-Richards song, and so on. It became more sporadic as the Glimmer Twins wrote more and more, with examples from the 70s to the 90s including "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Just My Imagination", "Harlem Shuffle" and "Like a Rolling Stone".
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: As was typical for British groups of the era, all their '60s albums prior to Their Satanic Majesties Request were reconfigured for the American market.
  • Darker and Edgier: Beggars Banquet was the album that truly set the template for the band's sleazy, raunchy sound following the psychedelic experimentation of Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request (and the grittier but still comparatively tame R&B covers and pop singles of their early period).
    • The Stones themselves, of course, were initially seen as a Darker And Edgier alternative to The Beatles.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Keith, of course.
  • Demoted to Extra: Shortly after becoming the Stones' business manager in 1964, Andrew Loog Oldham had keyboardist Ian Stewart demoted to road manager, ostensibly on the grounds that six were too many for a pop group but more likely because Stewart's short-haired, lantern-jawed appearance didn't fit the image Oldham was trying to cultivate for them. However, he did continue to contribute to the Stones' recordings and performed in the background as their touring keyboardist (but not a full member of the band) until his death. When the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, the band requested that Stewart be inducted as a member as well.
    • Brian Jones, originally the Stones' leader, was relegated to an increasingly secondary role as the '60s progressed, due to the emergence of the Jagger-Richards partnership (Jones didn't write any songs, which made him far less important as the group's commercial ambitions grew), deteriorating relations with his bandmates (exacerbated by a Love Triangle between Jones, Richards, and Anita Pallenberg), and his own personal problems (including severe drug and alcohol abuse). As a result of all this, Jones contributed little to the Stones' music after 1967; his final album with the band, Let It Bleed, features him on just two tracks (congas on "Midnight Rambler" and autoharp on "You Got The Silver").
  • Determinator: Keith, of course.
    • Also, the character "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
    • The band as a whole, Up to Eleven. To illustrate: as noted they are "only" number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In the top 26, note  Mick, Keith, and Charlie have literally, in the true sense of the word, outlived the majority of the artists listed. Further, in terms of active or even semi-active careers, only the (semi-retired) Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney rival the lads in rock and roll longevity.
  • Disguised in Drag: the original group dressed up as aeroplane stewardesses on the picture sleeve for the "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?" single.
  • Distinct Double Album: Exile on Main St.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Mother's Little Helper", which is about a housewife abusing prescription drugs (presumably meprobamate (Miltown) or diazepam (Valium)) to deal with her everyday life, eventually leading to a fatal overdose. The first line gives a clue as to her deep motive: "What a drag it is getting OLD..."
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Ron Wood played on "It's Only Rock & Roll", released in 1974, while he was still a member of the Faces. He would play with the band for the ensuing tour in 1975 after Mick Taylor left the band, but did not become an official band member until the release of Black And Blue in 1976.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: In a memoir of his time living with the group in the early '60s, one-time Stones crony Jimmy Phelge relates how Brian Jones had a strong aversion to his middle name (Hopkins) and tried to keep it a secret from the others.
  • Epic Rocking: "Goin' Home", "Midnight Rambler", "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Love Is Strong"
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: "Monkey Man"
  • The Fashionista: Charlie Watts is famous for his fashion sense. He frequently shows up on "best dressed" lists.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "The Lantern"
  • Friendly Rivalry: With The Beatles in the '60s.
    • There is also a Foil to it; the Stones were considered the "less wholesome" counterpart to The Beatles.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The stereo mix of the "We Love You" single has the vocals on the chorus shift from hard right to hard left.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several, going all the way back to 1966's Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass).
  • Grief Song: "Paint It Black"
  • Groupie Brigade
  • Happily Married: Charlie Watts is the only member of the band still married to his first wife, Shirley, who he married before the Stones became famous. His devotion to his wife is well known: When the band visited the Playboy Mansion in 1972, Watts played pool with Hugh Hefner instead of hanging out with the Bunnies like the rest of the band.
  • #HashtagForLaughs: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood each have their own Twitter account, alongside the Rolling Stones as a whole. Charlie Watts does not. When the Rolling Stones account lists individual accounts in a tweet, it uses the hashtag #CharliestoocoolforTwitter in his absence.
  • Heavy Meta: "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" (but I like it, I like it, yes I do!)
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mick and Keith. Keith:
    "I always feel sorry for Mick's women. They always end up crying on my shoulder and I tell them 'How do you think I feel? I'm stuck with him!'"
  • Hey, You!: Get off of my cloud!
  • Historical Rap Sheet: "Sympathy for the Devil" lists many atrocities that the titular Devil has been a part of, such as being a German General during World War II, being an accomplice of the assassination of both Kennedys, and the French and Russian Revolutions.
  • Hypocritical Humor: This video Mick and Charlie did for Monty Python's reunion show in 2014.
    "A bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth and make a load of money. I mean, the best one died years ago!"
  • Ice Queen: "She's So Cold".
  • Iconic Logo: The "tongue and lips", possibly the most famous band logo of all time.
  • "I Hate" Song: "Stupid Girl" is three verses and a middle eight of of "grrr..." against shallow, empty-headed women.
  • Immune to Drugs: Keith Richards. A lesser man would have died long ago taking half the amount of drugs he's taken in his life.
    • To put this in perspective, Richards admitted he only quit cocaine in 2006 after his head injury in Fiji, meaning he only quit hard drugs when he was sixty-three. And even now, in his late 70's, he still enjoys cocktails and cannabis in his downtime.
  • Instrumentals: "Stoned", "2120 South Michigan Avenue"
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Especially for their time, Their Satanic Majesties Request and arguably Let It Bleed. Also the song "Bitch". Not to mention the somewhat obscure song "Cocksucker Blues", which also lent its title to a never-released documentary about the band.
  • Intercourse with You: "Let's Spend The Night Together" as the most blatant.
  • International Pop Song English
  • Irony: One of the main reasons why Bill Wyman - a former RAF veteran - left the Stones was because he had developed a fear of flying.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: A sex symbol and a ladies' man in his younger years, Mick Jagger now looks more like a mummy. Doesn't stop him from getting his fair share of poontang.
  • Junkie Parent: "Mother's Little Helper" is about a mother addicted to benzos.
  • Large Ham: Mick, frequently.
  • Last Chorus Slowdown: "Ruby Tuesday"
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Brian Jones supposedly came up with the band's name while trying to get a club booking on the telephone. When the venue's manager asked Jones what his newly-formed group called themselves, he looked at a Muddy Waters album that was sitting on the floor and noticed the first track, "Rollin' Stone Blues".
  • Live Album: Several. Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, recorded on the 1969 U.S. tour and released in 1970, is generally considered the best of them.
  • Long Runner: Started as a London club band in 1962, still going strong.
    • Long-Runner Line-up: Two of them:
      • Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood: 1975–93
      • Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood: Since 1993
  • Long Title: "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?"
  • Loudness War: The 2010 remaster of Exile on Main St. suffers from a bad case of this.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Stones have a knack for combining beautiful, moving music with severely screwed-up lyrics full of sex (and definitely not of the Safe, Sane, and Consensual kind), drugs, violence, and general weirdness.
    • Case in point: "Brown Sugar", the only upbeat song on the Sticky Fingers album. It's about slave rape on American cotton plantations.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Trope Namer. Not specifically mentioned in the song, but Lucifer sounds like a guy who wears a nice suit.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: "Ruby Tuesday"
  • The Movie: Shine A Light, by Martin Scorsese.
  • The Masochism Tango: Mick and Jerry Hall. Jesus.
  • Misogyny Song: They had quite a run of these in the '60s: "Play with Fire", "Under My Thumb", "Stupid Girl", "Lady Jane", "Out of Time", "Yesterday's Papers", "Back Street Girl", "Ride On, Baby"...
    • And in the '70s: "Brown Sugar", "Star Star", "Short and Curlies", "Some Girls"...
  • Murder Ballad: "Hand Of Fate"
  • New Sound Album: Aftermath began to add elements of psychedelia to their early mod sound. Its follow up, Between the Buttons, took them into full-blown psychedelic rock, continuing with this on Their Satanic Majesties Request. Beggars Banquet codified their most well-known sound of bluesy, loose, garage rock. Some Girls played with elements of punk rock and disco, and Emotional Rescue and Undercover incorporated elements of synth-pop.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: It would seem, considering that, after Bill Wyman left, there's been no official replacement for him (just session and touring bassists).
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Sympathy for the Devil," "Let It Bleed"
  • Ode to Intoxication: The Cover Version of Muddy Waters' "Champagne And Reefer" on Shine A Light
  • One Steve Limit: Averted during Mick Taylor's time with the band.
  • One-Woman Song: "Angie", "Lady Jane", "Ruby Tuesday", "Sweet Virginia", "Hey Negrita", "Indian Girl"
  • Paint It Black: Trope Namer (the actual song has nothing to do with the trope).
  • Pen Name: The pseudonym "Nanker Phelge" was used for several early group compositions.note 
  • "But don't play with me, 'cause you're Playing with Fire..."
  • Protest Song: "Street Fighting Man", "We Love You", "Salt of the Earth", "Fingerprint File", "Hang Fire", "Undercover of the Night", "Highwire", "Sweet Neo Con"
  • The Quiet One: Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Sympathy for the Devil" really doesn't count, but certainly somebody will call it "Pleased to Meet You."
    • The crotch-area and backside pictured on the cover art of Sticky Fingers is not that of Mick Jagger, but of "Warhol Superstar", model Joe Dallesandro (Warhol designed the cover art). A photo of Joe's bare chest was featured on the cover of the debut album by The Smiths 13 years later.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: "Sympathy for the Devil"
    • Mick Jagger himself was critical about this trope, noting that he was amazed that the Satanic metaphor became popular with Heavy Metal musicians when for him the song wasn't really about "the devil" at all.
  • Rock Star Song: "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll". Keith's "Before They Make Me Run" kind of qualifies as well.
  • Rockumentary / Le Film Artistique:
    • Charlie Is My Darling (1966), a documentary of the Stones' 1965 Irish tour, which has been described by some as A Hard Day's Night had it been directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
    • One Plus One/Sympathy For The Devil (1968) is actually directed by Godard himself. It features digressive vignettes on politics and student movements intercut with actual footage showing the recording sessions in studio for "Sympathy For The Devil". The producer of the film famously re-titled the film after the song, outraging Godard and leading him to remark, "They wanted to make my One Plus One equal two!"
    • Gimme Shelter (1970), a documentary of their disastrous 1969 free concert at Altamont Speedway, has been viewed by some as a meditation on the death of the Sixties.
    • Cocksucker Blues (named after the song they recorded to get way the fuck away from Decca, see below) is even worse; it hasn't been released. If the director tries, they'll sue him. Considering what's in it, that's in their best interest.
    • Shine a Light (2008), directed by Martin Scorsese, intersperses concert and backstage footage from a New York concert on the 2006 A Bigger Bang tour with archival footage from throughout the band's career.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: "Rock And A Hard Place".
  • Seduction Lyric: Any band fronted by Mick Jagger is probably going to get a name for invoking this trope — but “Let’s Spend the Night Together” is an obvious instance for one.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: While various band-mates and others have all contributed backing vocals at different times, it's not unusual for Jagger to employ this on recordings.
  • Self-Deprecation: A compilation of their late '70s material was titled Sucking In The Seventies.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their 1964 debut LP was one of these in the UK, although their American label subtitled it with England's Newest Hit Makers.
  • Serial Killer: "Midnight Rambler"
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: They were the pioneers, leading to the controversial, "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?"
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Charlie Watts, big time.
  • Shotgun Wedding: "Dear Doctor"
  • Shout-Out:
  • Signature Style: Keith Richards' use of open tunings.
  • The '60s: Mod suits and screaming girls.
  • Solo Side Project: Every main member has released solo albums or worked on solo projects while being a member of the Stones, save for Mick Taylor (whose solo debut didn't come until well after he'd left the band). Bill Wyman was the first to do this with a proper solo album with Monkey Grip in 1974, although Brian Jones recorded a film soundtrack in 1967 (A Degree of Murder) that was never officially released, and an album of Moroccan folk music (Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka) which was released posthumously in 1971.
  • Something Blues: "Stray Cat Blues", "Ventilator Blues", "Fancy Man Blues".
  • Song of Song Titles: Not a song, actually; "Don't Stop" has a Video of Song Titles.
  • Special Guest:
    • Phil Spector and Gene Pitney play maracas and piano, respectively, on "Little by Little" and "Now I've Got a Witness".
      • From the same sessions, they also appear (along with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke) on the unreleased (and very X-rated) "Andrew's Blues". In fact, Spector sings lead on that particular ditty.
    • John Lennon and Paul McCartney perform backing vocals on "We Love You".
    • Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott perform backing vocals on "In Another Land".
    • Gospel singer Merry Clayton performs backing vocals (and even a couple of lead lines) on "Gimme Shelter". That song is also a great excuse to bring in a famous female singer during live shows; those who have done so include Florence Welch, Lady Gaga, and Mary J. Blige.
    • Ron Wood and Kenney Jones play guitar and drums, respectively, on "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)", two years before Wood joined the Stones officially.
      • David Bowie sang co-lead on the original recording of "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)", although his vocals were wiped for the finished version. Ditto Pete Townshend on "Slave".
    • Jazz great Sonny Rollins plays saxophone on "Waiting for a Friend".
    • Jimmy Page plays guitar on "One Hit (To the Body)".
    • Eric Clapton plays guitar on the live Flashpoint version of "Little Red Rooster", as well as on "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing" and "I Can't Quit You Baby" from Blue & Lonesome.
    • No Security includes a guest appearance by Dave Matthews on "Memory Motel".
    • Angus and Malcolm Young joined the band onstage to play "Rock Me Baby" a few times in 2003.
    • Live Licks includes guest appearances by Sheryl Crow ("Honky Tonk Women") and Solomon Burke ("Everybody Needs Somebody to Love").
    • Shine a Light includes guest appearances by Christina Aguilera ("Live With Me"), Jack White ("Loving Cup"), and Buddy Guy ("Champagne and Reefer").
  • Spicy Latinas: The "Puerto Rican girls who're just dying to meet you" in "Miss You."
  • Spoiler Title: It takes until the final verse of "Sympathy for the Devil" for the song's narrator to be revealed. No guesses for who it is.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Several of their songs have brief spoken-word bits from Jagger: "Something Happened to Me Yesterday", "Fingerprint File", "Miss You", "Far Away Eyes", "Emotional Rescue", "Slave", "Tops", etc.
  • Stage Names: "Bill Wyman" was born William George Perks.
    • Brian Jones initially called himself "Elmo Lewis" when the Stones started, after his idol Elmore James.
      • In fact, Brian was born Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones.
    • Keith Richards billed himself as "Keith Richard" in the '60s and '70s, in emulation of early British rocker Cliff Richard.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Keith Richards sings lead on numerous songs including "You Got the Silver", "Happy", "Before They Make Me Run", "Little T&A", etc. Often lampshaded by Jagger in concert, where he usually introduces the band right before Keith sings a song or two. To heighten the effect, Keith is last, wherein Jagger introduces him "on guitar and now the vocals".
    • Bill Wyman sings lead on "In Another Land", his sole writing credit for the Stones' core catalogue.
    • Brian Jones shares harmony vocals with Jagger on the choruses of "Walking the Dog".
  • The Stoic:
    • Bill Wyman.
    • To a lesser extent Mick Taylor as well.
    • Regardless of how hard the band is rocking, Charlie Watts' expression rarely moves from "polite interest".
  • A Storm Is Coming: "Gimme Shelter"
  • Subdued Section: "Let's Spend the Night Together" has a bridge where the whole band drops out except organ, bass and percussive clicks (which engineer Glyn Johns says were batons borrowed from two police officers who stopped by the studio to make sure things were all right when they noticed the building's door was open), Jagger sings softer, and there are some choirlike, wordless vocal harmonies, before they tear back into the song.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Trope Namer. Ironically, the song in question is a subversion of the trope, as the Devil spends the whole song bragging about how evil he is. Or rather, sarcastically confessing how evil and horrible he is, when "after all it was you and me": that is to say, the Devil is the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's own capacity for evil...but you can just call him Lucifer. Lucifer also threatens to "lay your soul to waste" if you don't show him sympathy or respect. Yikes.
  • Take That!: When their former record company told them they were obligated to deliver one more single, the band gave them the unreleasable "Cocksucker Blues". It was released in Germany and did well there, though.
    • "We Love You" was the Stones' "valentine" to the British establishment following the group's harassment by police and media throughout 1967, which culminated in an infamous drug raid at Keith Richards' home and the attempted imprisonment of he and Jagger for possession.
  • Textless Album Cover: Their Satanic Majesties Request, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll, A Bigger Bang
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Particularly in the early years.
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: The cover of the Their Satanic Majesties Request album originally featured a lenticular 3-D image of the band.
  • Unreplaced Departed: After Bill Wyman departed in 1993, the remaining members brought Darryl Jones in to play bass on records and tours as a hired musician and not as a replacement to Wyman within the group. If the Stones continue on their current course, their time without Wyman will exceed the time he spent with them in 2024.
  • Villain Song: "Sympathy for the Devil" sounds like it a villain (the devil, obviously) bragging about all the atrocities he's committed over the ages, but it is more along the lines of As Long as There is Evil.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Richards and Jagger both have described their relationship with one another as this.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Brian Jones's relationship with Jagger and Richards wound up this way.
  • Who Shot JFK?: In "Sympathy for the Devil:" "After all, it was you and me."
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The narrator in "Paint It Black" who lost their love and wants to "see the sun blotted out from the sky."
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "2000 Light Years from Home"
  • Working-Class Hero: Semi-subverted with "Salt of the Earth".

Alternative Title(s): Rolling Stones


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