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.
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.