Touted as being the longest-serving rock ‘n roll band in the history of mainstream music, The Rolling Stones and their trademark red-lipped, tongue-out insignia have become emblematic of the rock ‘n roll genre as a whole.
From a motley crew of scruffy teens with no filters, playing a relatively obscure variant of Chicago blues in dimly-lit pubs around West London. To a household name heard and celebrated all across the globe The Rolling Stones will forever go down as a defining element of rock history.
But how much do we truly know about the men behind the music?
Here’s Band-Tees list of historic and quintessentially rock ‘n roll facts you didn’t know about the enduring legacy of The Rolling Stones.
“100 Years Ago” — The Band’s Roots
Back before they were world-famous rock ‘n roll symbols, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first met at the tender age of five, sharing the same primary school until 1950, when Jagger moved away.
Fact: It wasn’t until a chance encounter on a train platform 10 years later that the two reconnected and cemented their friendship upon discovering a mutual appreciation for the blues and Chuck Berry.
Not long after, the two began jamming together. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Hot Lips” — The Story Behind the Logo
Synonymous with the band’s long legacy of music, tours, and live shows, the band’s famous logo, known as the “Tongue and Lips” or “Hot Lips,” has a storied history of its own.
Fact: Created by then student John Pasche of the London Royal College of Art in 1969, and upon personal request by none other than Mick Jagger himself, the infamous logo draws inspiration from Hindu mythology.As the story goes, Jagger had made a trip to the reputed institute in search of a student to help with the visuals on the band’s upcoming album. It was there that he came across the work of Pasche and paid him a sum of £50 to design a logo after the likeness of the Goddess Kali.
The Goddess, a symbol of everlasting energy and destruction, is often depicted with an emphasized mouth and her tongue sticking out.
However, the final logo, which debuted on the 1971 LP Sticky Fingers, used Jagger’s mouth as a template for what would eventually become one of rock ‘n roll’s most easily identifiable symbols.
“A Little Help From My Friends” — Rolling Stone’s Rise to Fame
While the media monster regaled in tales of a bitter feud between the two legendary UK bands, things between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones weren’t as bad as the headlines proclaimed.
Fact: Having been fans of the group since their early days, The Beatles were instrumental in The Rolling Stones’ rise to fame, even helping them get their hands on a capable manager.
The band’s first real hit, “I Wanna Be Your Man,” Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote for The Rolling Stones in 1963: a winning collaboration that would see the song shine at the top of the charts not long after.
Also featured on With the Beatles, the song was recorded with Ringo Starr on vocals for the Beatles’ album.
The relationship between the two groups didn’t end there, with Jagger contributing backing vocals and Brian Jones playing the oboe on the Beatles’ ‘Baby You’re a Rich Man’.
Returning the favor, Lennon and McCartney also performed backing vocals on ‘We Love You’.
“Beggar’s Banquet” — The Trouble with Artwork
Known for their rebellious nature and anti-establishment lyricism, The Rolling Stones had been at ends with their famously conservative UK label London Records, in the days leading up to the release of Beggars Banquet.
The original artwork, which featured a grimy, graffiti-covered bathroom wall proclaiming the band’s title, was quickly shot down and replaced with a rather bizarre caricature of the band members in the medieval ages, portraying them as court jesters and beggars in a castle setting.
In the end, the band opted for the simplistic, off-white cover and cursive text that the album is known by today.
Not ones to be controlled or put in a box, however, The Rolling Stones came up with a truly unique way to promote the album.
The Beggar’s Banquet Album Launch Party was held at the elite Kensington Gore Hotel in London on December 5th, 1968.
Dressed in the fineries of the early days of the British aristocracy, the band held a refined English banquet complete with a seven-course meal, with journalists, patrons of the scene, and more in attendance.
However, all pretense of sophistication evaporated as the band’s new album played on, and the festivities soon spiraled into a food-frenzied riot.
Fact: During the final dessert course, a custard pie fight broke out, with most of the sweet projectiles being aimed at record label execs responsible for vetoing The Rolling Stones’ bathroom cover art.
Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
“No Sympathy for the Devil” — Festival Chaos
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was a counterculture rock concert held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway. Expected to be a “Woodstock of the West”, the concert was attended by an estimated 3,00,000 people.
California’s answer to the legendary Woodstock festival, the line-up for the day featured such acts as Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana. It would mark The Rolling Stones’ long-awaited return to the stage.
However, the event didn’t turn out as expected. This, in large part, was owed to the band’s bizarre decision to hire the notorious motorcycle gang, Hell’s Angels, to function as their security detail.
Fact: The atmosphere amongst the crowd is said to have been so volatile that Jagger was punched in the face as he exited his helicopter upon arrival.
The violence escalated to the point where a fan pulled a gun, and was subsequently fatally stabbed by the Hell’s Angels. The Rolling Stones, not knowing what was going on, continued to play.
By the time the Stones had made a quick escape in a helicopter after their set, 4 people had died.
The Hell’s Angels, whom Jagger no longer wanted to associate with, and who were incensed by the rockstar’s sudden cold shoulder, hatched a plan to assassinate the singer at his beach house.
Fortunately, due to bad weather conditions and a ploy that relied on an approach from the sea, the plan was foiled.
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