50 Fun Factoids about the Rolling Stones

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Rolling Stones perform in Berlin, June 10, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Last week (June 10, 2014) the Rolling Stones performed in Berlin, a concert that was originally scheduled back in 1969, but didn’t take place. Instead communist authorities arrested hundreds of young East German would-be concert-goers. (Astonishingly, one such detainee was imprisoned over two years.) This time, after nearly 45 years, the music played.

In recognition of a half century of making memorable music, here are 50 fun facts you may not know about the bad boys of rock:

1. Their 1963 hit “I Wanna Be Your Man” was written and donated to the band by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on request of the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

2. The cover to their 1971 album Sticky Fingers was designed by Andy Warhol.

3. It is also rumoured that Andy Warhol designed their famed ‘tongue’ logo — but it could have also been John Pasch or Craig Braun.

4. Over 1,500,000 fans turned up to see them play at the Copacabana Beach Show in February 2006.

5. The Stones’ first gig featured Mick Avory on drums, who later went on to drum for the Kinks.

6. Former member Bill Wyman (who joined them for their 50th anniversary show) has spent his time since leaving the band pursuing various hobbies such as metal detecting.

7. Director Martin Scorsese has used their song “Gimme Shelter” in four of his films.

8. One of the cameramen on their 1970 documentary, Gimme Shelter, was none other than legendary film director George Lucas.

9. The cake on the cover of the Rolling Stones 1969 album Let It Bleed was baked by Delia Smith, who later achieved fame with her cooking show.

10. Their only studio album that has failed to reach the top 5 in the UK album charts was 1997’s Bridges To Babylon, which peaked at number 6.

11. The first single from Bridges To Babylon,Anybody Seen My Baby,” featured Angelina Jolie before she became famous.

12. Their beloved 1972 album Exile on Main Street had the working title of Tropical Disease.

13. Bill Wyman’s last gig before leaving the band was in 1990 on the Urban Jungle tour at Wembley Stadium.

14. Keith Richards named his child with Anita Pallenberg, Marlon, after film star Marlon Brando.

15. Their 1967 single “We Love You” featured John Lennon and Paul McCartney on backing vocals.

16. The Rolling Stones were first signed to the record label Decca in 1963 after George Harrison suggested them to the label head. It wasn’t until 1971 that the band set up their own label.

17. Many of their albums have been produced by a team called “The Glimmer Twins,” which is actually just a pseudonym for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

18. The Stones were playing their song “Under My Thumb” when Meredith Hunter was stabbed at their infamous concert in California in 1969.

19. The song “One Hit (to the Body),” featured on their 1986 album Dirty Work, featured Jimmy Page on guitar.

20. There are rumours that David Bowie is singing the backing vocals on their song “Time Waits For No One.”

21. Bobby Keys played on every album in their 69-74 glory days and still tours with the band today.

22. Keys is best known for his solo work on the song “Brown Sugar.”

23.  The band’s country period — when they recorded songs like “Dead Flowers” and “Honky Tonk Woman”– came about from Richards’ friendship with country legend Gram Parsons.

24. Jagger admits that he never felt comfortable singing the country songs as he felt his voice was more suited to blues music.

25. Wes Anderson is another director who loves the Stones, using “Ruby Tuesday” in The Royal Tenenbaums and “I Am Waiting” in Rushmore.

26. The 60s throwback television show The Wonder Years featured an episode where the lead character, Kevin, and his friends go on an unsuccessful quest to find the venue the Stones are rumoured to be playing in their hometown.

27. They are still referenced to in television today. A recent episode of the show Mad Men featured the lead character, Don Draper, hanging out backstage at a show in an effort to get approval for using the band in an ad.

28. The recent Maroon 5 hit, “Moves Like Jagger” highlights the way Mick Jagger continues to influence generations of frontmen in bands to this day.

29. Andrew Loog Oldham publicized the band by asking, “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” This positioned them as the bad boy alternative to the Beatles.

30. Contrary to popular belief, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were actually good friends.

31. The band members refused to wear matching stage suits like the Beatles wore early on.

32. Piano player Ian Stewart, widely considered the “6th Stone,” was never an official member of the group because Oldham felt he didn’t fit their image.

33. In 1963, the band took out a Christmas ad in a paper saying “Best wishes to all the starving hairdressers and their families,” when their long hair was considered controversial and outrageous.

34. Bill Wyman owns a restaurant in London called Sticky Fingers.

35. While Jagger and Richards did a lot of drugs (and Brian Jones did enough to kill himself), Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts abstained for the most part.

36. The band’s name comes from one of their major influences, Muddy Waters, and his tune “Rollin’ Stone Blues.”

37. In 1963, their tour van skidded off a bridge, but luckly no one was seriously harmed as it didn’t flip over.

38. Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool a few weeks after leaving the band on July 3, 1969, and the coroner’s report listed “death by misadventure.”

39. Richards was arrested for heroin possession in 1977. As part of his sentence, he played two shows for blind children in Toronto.

40. When Mick Taylor left the band in 1975, The Stones considered a variety of musicians including Jeff Beck, Wayne Perkins, Havey Mandel, Rory Gallagher and Peter Frampton before deciding on Ron Wood.

41. In 1983 Jagger was commissioned to write his autobiography, but quit the project and gave his advance back after finishing the first manuscript.

42. Their 1981 world tour was the first tour ever to be sponsored when Jovan perfume paid them $4 million.

43. The Rolling Stones are the highest earning rock band in history with concerts that have grossed over $750 million.

44. Rumours credit Bill Wyman with coining the term “Groupie” during their 1965 Australian tour.

45. Jagger was knighted in 2002. Richards felt it was hypocritical of him to accept it since the band has always been critical of the British monarchy and English law.

46. In 2002, they played a private concert for a Texas investor named David Bonderman for a fee of $7 million.

47. The band headlined the most-attended concert in Canadian history, the SARS benefit show dubbed “SARSstock” in Toronto in July, 2003. Supporting bands included AC/DC, Rush, and the Guess Who.

48. Their tongue logo was inspired by the Indian Hindu goddess Kali The Destroyer.

49. They were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in January 1989.

50. The producers of A Clockwork Orange briefly toyed with the idea of casting Jagger in the lead role as Alex and having the rest of the Stones along as his “droogs”.


Watch a clip from the new HBO documentary Crossfire Hurricane, which chronicles the band’s start 50 years ago:

Sources: E Online, Wikipedia, Artistfacts, Metro

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