The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World turns 50

HankP's picture

Quite a milestone, and really who in the 60s thought that any band would make it so long - especially one with their (well deserved) reputation.


Now I'm sure there will be naysayers here, and so let's make some concessions. Yes, they look like not especially well preserved mummies. Yes, they aren't at the forefront of popular music, and haven't been for the past 30 years. While they are still recording it's clear that their best work was in the late 60s and early 70s, and since then they've released more average albums than good ones.


But ...


For about 5 years from 1968 - 1973, they captured the zeitgeist the way few bands ever have. After they went through their phases of being a blues cover band, a pop hit-making band and an ill advised detour into psychedelia, they went back to their roots and merged blues, country, rock and pop into some of the best rock albums ever released. As the Beatles feel good pop and psychedelia faded after 1967, a rougher, more violent and more confrontational sound captured the years when it really did seem like everything was coming apart. Coupling the interesting and clever lyrics and powerful voice of Mick Jagger with the musical composing genius of Keith Richard, and with the multi instrumental talent of Brian Jones, the clean and tasteful lead guitar of Mick Taylor, and anchored by the rhythm section of Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums, they produced music that was not only popular but had substance to it. It's hard to explain the anticipation that preceded each new album release of theirs, and the impression that their work had on the music and people of the time. At least the younger people of the time, the more the adults hated them the more we kids loved them.


So here are a few of my favorites of theirs, I'm not going to put up their hits because everyone here has probably heard them hundreds of times. Well, maybe one hit. Gimme Shelter was released in December 1969 and was the best musical summing up of that decade that's ever been recorded.
















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From the late 60s to the early 80s,

Bird Dog's picture

the Stones were one of the greatest bands around. Their body of work was phenomenal.

I only saw them live once, at the Kingdome, right after the release of Tattoo You. I was on the floor, about five rows back. Unforgettable.

They're still one of my favorite bands, and a lot of their songs hold up quite well.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

I Presume Everyone Knows that on HBO, Crossfire Hurricane

(#297200) now playing.



Very good Documentary by and on The Rolling Stones.

Best Wishes, Traveller

Here's some actual numbers, and surprising ones at that

HankP's picture

Pew survey on the Generation Gap


I linked to page 4, which discussed the popularity of various musical groups. This surprised me:



The Rolling Stones rate higher the younger the cohort, as does Jimi Hendrix. I'm surprised to see the Jefferson Airplane show up in every age group as well. I like the Airplane, but I didn't think they were as popular as they appear to be here.


I blame it all on the Internet

C'mon - this doesn't pass the smell test


Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, etc. are "liked a lot" by between 1/4th and 1/3rd of 16 - 29 yr. olds?


They're saying what they think they should when prompted. These are names with a generally cool, sophisticated, etc. associated connotation, not what people listen to.


I bet the majority of these respondents couldn't name more than 2 songs by any of these guys.

They gave the respondents a list of 20 artists

HankP's picture

representing different decades and asked them what they thought of the artists listed. The respondents didn't volunteer the names of artists. Maybe the kids aren't music snobs like people in their 30s.


I blame it all on the Internet

A dude in high school liked Blink 182 songs

brutusettu's picture

....had no clue they had to main vocalist.




Some people might not need posters on the wall or their entire discography and still consider themselves to like a band "a lot."

Maybe 25% of 16-29 year olds


are being big fat liars when they say they like Elvis Presley a lot.

I knew this would happen

HankP's picture

when I posted polls rather than anecdotal experiences.


I blame it all on the Internet

I believe the poll systematically over-represents


minorities and white liberals.


Further, it over-estimates likely as opposed to registered Elvis fans.

Talk about your epistemic closure

HankP's picture

you're the one who will be shocked when your kids start playing Hound Dog and All Shook Up.


I blame it all on the Internet

It's hard for a philosopher to read "epistemic closure"


as a synonym for being close-minded. 


Philosophers have used the term for decades to refer to the phenomena of accepting all of the logical entailments of one's beliefs. Such a belief set is "closed under consequence" or "epistemically closed".


This is one property of an ideal rational agent according to philosophers, and now it's being used to pick out delusional Republicans.


HankP's picture

for waiting a year while the term has become popular to whack me with your PhDednss.


I blame it all on the Internet

Oh wow


I just went to a middle school play tonight where a bunch of Elvis tunes were played.


The director who selected the music looked under 30 and a bunch of 12 yr olds danced to Hound Dog. 


I was so mad at having an experience run counter to my claims on this weblog that I told all the middle school actors that they were terrible. 

Is that a cigarette you're crushing underfoot,


or is it preteen dreams like those you once had?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Oh well done

HankP's picture

did you make any of them cry?


I blame it all on the Internet

You'll be shocked


when Romney wins the election and outlaws Elvis's hip movements on TV.

Tagg Romney?

HankP's picture

hopefully I'll be dead before then.


I blame it all on the Internet

You're already dead....

Bernard Guerrero's picture

Yeah, I agree. I have to assume they were handed


a 'menu' of perhaps limited selection.  It's all the same bands in each cohort, just rank ordered differently.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I see those girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes.

brutusettu's picture

Paint it Black




Stones (mentioned) in other songs


Metric - Gimme Sympathy   "who would you rather be, The Beatles or the The Rolling Stones?"

Maroon 5 annoyingly put it "I've got the mooahoooouves like Jagger"





The Sundays - Wild Horses

So let me ask a younger guy

HankP's picture

what music from the 60s and 70s is still considered good, and what is hopelessly outdated?


I blame it all on the Internet

A few impressions


Popular with staying power: Queen, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Early Stones, Black Sabbath, Classic Soul, Funk & R&B.


Less popular, but with a contemporary cool kids following: Can, Kraftwerk, Velvet Underground, Tangerine Dream, Ramones, New York Dolls, Neu!, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire.


Hopelessly outdated: everything else except a bunch of stuff I forgot.

Wouldn't that be just about anyone?



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

In general (probably just mostly their singles)

brutusettu's picture

Pink Floyd

Jimi Hendrix

Led Zepplin

The Who

Rolling Stones

The Beatles




Blue Oyster Cult (MORE COWBELL)


Black Sabbath (never cared for Ozzy's vocals)


The Doors


Alice Cooper


The Clash (London Calling released in late '79)




Ram Jam - Black Betty

Deep Purple - Smoke On the Water

Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride

Golden Earring - Twilight Zone  + Radar Love



most stuff that's still on the radio


Cheap Trick probably still attracts the same type of people.

Not many had a clue about MC5, a little bit of esoteric weirdness when I saw Jennifer Aniston's character on Friends with a MC5 shirt on.



Ted Nugent seemed corny as hell

Cream & The Moody Blues etc will probably only have very very niche younger fanbase. music fans et al probably still like that Lynyrd Skynyrd

Jimi Hendrix is an interesting case


He's got to be the most famous musician whose albums relatively younger people have never listened to.


Some vague recollection of Purple Haze is about standard among a lot of people I know and I've only listened to one of his albums myself. 


Compare that with how many people under 40 have listened to a bunch of The Velvet Underground -- a much less popular contemporary -- and it's pretty striking. 


I'll bet roughly as many youngish people have put on a Jimi Hendrix album as one by The Kinks or The Animals, even though Hendrix's got 5x the name recognition.


... Also, add Brian Eno and Cat Stevens to the list of still-listened-to 60s and 70s guys.

Anyone around 30 or younger would

brutusettu's picture

have to probably really really really want the image  to listen to Velvet Underground,  that's a 82.3% acquired by sheer force of will taste for almost anyone in that young 30ish and younger group.......gods* an older band for the Defiance, Ohio crowd.



Pink Floyd


Hendrix, All Along The Watchtower* for crying out loud


Those are the biggest  3 that are coming to mind




*Battlestar Galactica, that is all.

Aren't there a lot of hipsters like catchy?

HankP's picture

not everyone can be a clean cut all American guy like you and stinerman.


I blame it all on the Internet

That hasn't been my experience

HankP's picture

from what my friends with teenagers tell me, Hendrix is probably more listened to than any fossil rock band other than the Beatles.


I blame it all on the Internet

From Southern Rock, I think Lynyrd Skynyrd


is the only band that still gets played with any regularity.  You'll hear Molly Hatchet and BTO thrown in from time to time but for every one of their songs played 'Sweet Home Alabama' gets played twice.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 


HankP's picture

the ones I'm surprised at:


The Doors, KISS - they seem pretty dated to me


Ram Jam, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, Golden Earring, Cheap Trick - I'm surprised anyone remembers them


Cream - I thought they'd rank higher


The Grateful Dead - I thought they'd get a mention.


On country rock, I'm sure it's a lot more than Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's pretty much forgotten now, but country rock was huge in the mid 70s. The Eagles, Marshall Tucker band, Poco, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Pure Prairie League, Charlie Daniels, The Outlaws, most of them now forgotten.


I blame it all on the Internet

Ram Jam, Deep Purple,

brutusettu's picture

Ram Jam, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, Golden Earring, I don't think many know who they are, but a lot will like a song or 2.

Cheap Trick's 80's stuff is the same deal.




I somehow forgot about Queen.    .38 Special too, Van Halen, Aerosmith, probably a ton more.


Grateful Dead and The Doors probably have a similar newer fanbase.

Kiss, other than a song or 4 would be pretty niche.



BTO is almost in the Rick Springfield category for anyone that's playing it.




Kansas and Boston are in the Ram Jam category.

The Eagles and Thin Lizzy are a step above.




I personally never cared for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Walsh, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Ozzy's vocals, some others that are still played that escape my mind

AC / DC, bitches. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Damn straight

Bird Dog's picture

I'm still mad that Bon Scott died in his own vomit. Hendrix, too.

Side note: As part of a high school journalism class, I called up Jimi's dad and he agreed to an interview. I wish I still had the tape. Me and a buddy went to Al Hendrix's house and hung out in his basement and played pool, chatting about Jimi and his early days in Seattle, the military, etc. Jimi's gold records were lined up on the stairwell, on the way down to the basement.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Nah, AC/DC sucked


*Poof!* I've suddenly found myself under a bridge collecting tolls.  WTF is the matter with this billy-goat?

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Suddenly found yourself under a bridge?

HankP's picture

when did you ever leave?


I blame it all on the Internet

That's like saying you don't much care for sunlight.


If you like rock and roll, then you like AC/DC. I have proven my theorem.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

If AC/DC is so good then where is their power ballad?


All kidding aside, I love AC/DC mainly because they never did a power ballad.  Here's my endorsement, while my wife was preggers all we played in the house was gaelic themed music, AC/DC and The Who.  I'll say this, it worked too well.  We wanted a meat eating kid but now I'm afraid for my cats and I think I might be on the menu.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Ride On

Bird Dog's picture

That's as close as they came, but it was more bluesy than ballady.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Does "Like, but not a ton, and only in small doses" count?

brutusettu's picture


Small doses is ok, but only if the volume brings the cops



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

That's me


I rarely, rarely listen to AC/DC, but when I do, small animals in the area flee.


However, I reserve 11 on the volume for Dire Straights, Money for Nothing.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I think KISS's following is just nostalgia


I refuse to believe there are any young fans of the sh&ttiest major band of all time.


They had a tour in 2010, mostly in smaller town pavilions. I listened to some of the live recordings for fun with a couple friends b/c they'll make ya giggle. Just laughably bad. 


And Gene Simmons is one of the dumbest people to ever get behind a microphone and yell "You Rock!!!!"


HankP's picture

I thought they were pretty much a joke when they started. But a lot of people ~5 - 10 years younger than me liked them a lot.


I blame it all on the Internet



The Doors does sound dated, and has for 20 years at least. But it can still sound powerful, which is what counts.


KISS I never understood the appeal of. Well, I sort of do, but they certainly didn't appeal to me at all.


The Grateful Dead? That's been a cult band for such a long time now. Devotees following them around for years and years. But to non-believers it fell off the radar.


You are right about country rock in the 1970's, but younger guys wouldn't know about it. The Eagles, though, are not a country rock band. How can you put them in a list together with Charlie Daniels? That's madness, madness I tell you. The Eagles could sing a country ballad, but that's far from the same thing.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Sure they are

HankP's picture

I don't care for them, and they became more pop oriented over time, but the Eagles were square in the middle of country rock for their first few albums.

I blame it all on the Internet

Hank, MA, I think the confusion is the term itself


If wikipedia is any sort of authority it appears there is Southern Rock and Country Rock.  I had to look because I had never heard of the term Country Rock until this thread.  I had heard of Southern Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, BTO, Molly Hatchet, up through Black Crowes and Georgia Satellites and Kid Rock.  I never thought of them as being in the same genre as many of the other bands you named.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

That explains it...


I was really thinking Country or Southern Rock. .38 Special is a good example, and is not in the same category as the Eagles by any stretch. In fact I think of .38 Special as a pasteurized Credence, which I think should be considered Southern Rock as well.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I think the distinction

HankP's picture

is that southern rock is exemplified by The Allman Brothers, and has it's roots in the blues. Country rock is based more on traditional country music (unlike most country music today, which is crappy pop songs with a pedal steel guitar and close harmonies). The Byrds were country rock, Lynryd Skynyrd were southern rock.


And BTO? They're not southern or country.


I blame it all on the Internet

The Who in particular has a current sound,


and not just because CSI uses them.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

You know it's funny

HankP's picture

I think the ear has to be trained in certain respects to appreciate certain types of music. The Who is great and wrote some fantastic songs, but you'd never hear their music backing a prime time TV show in the 70s or 80s. It took a while for a critical mass of the general public to get to the point that it was music rather than noise.


I remember as a teenager my parents were asking why I listened to "that noise" all the time (my parents were in the silent generation, too young to fight in WWII, that were parents of a lot of those kids in the 50s and 60s). Their tastes ran more to Big Bands and crooners. So I sat them down and played a bunch of songs for them. I remember their reactions to some of them -


Anything blues - noise

Anything folk - "they don't have very good singing voices, do they?"

Anything psychedelic - "is that even music? too weird"

Jimi Hendrix Little Wing - my mom loved it, asked why he didn't write more songs like that

The Grateful Dead - my dad said it reminded him of the country music he heard the southern guys playing when he was in the army

The Who Amazing Journey/Sparks - My dad thought it was "interesting but repetitive"

Traffic Glad - "sounds like jazz with loud drums"


I blame it all on the Internet

The New Yorker


Just had a 12,000-word story on the thousands of Grateful Dead tapes, and the people who love them. Remarkable number of people who love the Dead and weren't old enough to see Garcia live. 

They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

I hated the Stones as a Young


I hated the Stones as a Young Man but came around.  You know what it took - an appreciation for American roots, blues, and soul music.  After I had steeped in those for a few years, I realized what the Stones (and Zep for that matter) were all about.

At their best

HankP's picture

that's what they managed to integrate into their music. Apparently there's been a constant struggle for years between Richards who wants to write and play blues and roots music, and Jagger who wants to play pop. Which is another reason I respect the hell out of Richards for his songwriting skills and his musical taste.


I blame it all on the Internet

Keith Richards on Zep: "they're aptly named"


What an A-Wad


But that's Keith.  Always was, always has been.  Best if he just shuts up and plays guitar.  And in truth, as Sasha Frere Jones points out in a New Yorker post -- about the importance of both bands -- unlike the Stones, Zeppelin made a series of great albums, and quit while they were pretty well ahead.  No embarrassing disco detours or Steel Wheels nadirs for Page and company.


I love both bands, btw.

“Two clichés make us laugh but a hundred clichés move us, because we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion." - Umberto Eco

Harley, I, and I'm sure millions of other Forvmites want to


know, what's an A-wad?  I do what I can to stay current on coarse language for professional reasons but I missed the newsletter with this one.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 


HankP's picture

it's what Alex Rodriguez' girlfriends get when they've been good.

I blame it all on the Internet

Speaking Of MLB Players And Wandering Zippers. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .meet future ex-Mrs. Chipper Jones #3.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

What a pr!ck, washed-out has-been raining on someone else's rep


and what the hell is he wearing?


Never really understood the enthusiasm for the Stones - unpleasant people making repetative tedious 2nd rate music with juvenile lyrics. Sympathy for the Devil. Iron Maiden had more grown up tracks.

He's right

HankP's picture

I like Led Zeppelin, a lot, but they were a dumbed down and bombastic version of blues rock when they started, and before they incorporated strange bits of folk, mystiism and even J.R.R. Tolkien. They also borrowed from - or outright copied - a bunch of other artists at the beginning.


I'm a bit surprised at your opinion of the Stones, though. All I can say is that it's pretty common with extremely popular bands that their most popular songs aren't necessarily their best songs.


I blame it all on the Internet

The Doors revival in,


I guess, the 90's, drove me nuts but I had to admit that they had something - a certain presence, an atmosphere. 


I've heard the allegations of plagiarism by Zepplin and I certainly find a lot of their music pretty tedious. If it wasn't for Stairway we probably would have long forgotten them by now. When the Levee breaks maybe (I always used to wonder who had built the levee on the mountain). Their most annoying attribute was Plant's little girl belly which he seemed to take great pleasure in displaying to us all. As for the accusations of excessive mysticism etc, that was about their only redeeming feature. Full on drug addled harmless mystic nonsense. 


I've played guitar for years, and classical violin before that and I think that although the era had some fantastic music and was an important step in a journey (both musically and socially) it is far outshone by the variety and quality of the music available today. We have emerged from the wrap/dance dominated 90s and naughtys into a time of incredible variety and fusion. Sound production qualities and techniques are amazing (I include instrumentation), we have some great song writers, the revolution in the delivery medium makes a much greater variety available. The packaging is superb. We are in a golden age.


But anyway, you shouldn't really listen to me. I am of the "born in the 70s, went to school in the 80s, got drunk in the 90s" generation. I lack perspective.



What's so great about music now?


Maybe I'm out of it, but I don't know where music has moved to if it's now past hip hop and electronic dance music. 


These were genuinely fresh innovations in the 80s and early 90s, and got refined for a decade or so afterward. Indie Rock seemed to have the big innovations in the 00s.


But what is "revolutionary" and innovative now? I don't know if we're living through a very boring cultural musical period or whether I'm just out of it. But from my perspective bring back the 70s, or the underground 80s and early 90s.  


Also, I can't believe I'm defending Led Zeppelin b/c I do not have any interest in hard rock/metal/associated genres, but didn't they basically push rock in that direction?

Don't kid yourself

HankP's picture

compared to everyone else here you barely nudge the curmudgeon-o-meter.


I blame it all on the Internet

Some current favorites


"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


aireachail's picture

My favorite has long been this particular song (and version).



Yep, Air. That's been my favorite as well


Not sure of the version, I didn't listen to it.  It was the first song I learned to play









on cymbals.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

One thing about a band with a 50-year history...

Jay C's picture that over time, virtually anybody can have a chance to see them live: even I have: on the Steel Wheels tour in 1989 at Shea Stadium. Pretty awesome experience overall, even if the band looked about 2 inches tall from the stands....


Odd that by 2012, Shea would be a memory; and the Stones would still be around!

No love for the Rolling Stones here I guess nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

I'm Always Up For A Diary On Classical Music :-P -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Your diary has 4 votes!


Under My Thumb does it for me, and has for 20 yrs.

Votes are nice, comments are better nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

I like them a lot (sorta)


I saw them live in Miami back in 95 or so. I think they're a "had to be there" band. They did the whole white english boys doing american black r&b/blues thing, but really -- really -- added their own twist to it that many others of their ilk never could pull off. I like a lot of their later disco/funk stuff too. I saw Keith Richards once in a tiny venue (for PBS believe it or not, and he is a very excellent player and an engaging stage personality as well. Sucks as a solo artist though.


I'm just not an arena rock fan, and while I appreciate their earlier stuff, I'm just not a giant Stones head. Not a big Beatles fan either, though I was born 1970 and most people hate me for saying this. I like some of the Beatles weirdo-Pythonesque stuff, but past that it's a shrug of the shoulders. No hate.