For decades, The Rolling Stones have been called the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, but Mick Jagger finds the praise “embarrassing”, and ultimately, the singer thinks it is a pointless gesture, despite the good intentions.
The Stones are now into their 60th year and have been putting on masterclasses in stadiums for the majority of that time. They’ve had countless hit records, released seminal albums, and put on an extravaganza whenever they perform live. However, the beauty of music is that it is subjective and is completely down to taste.
While they have achieved more than any other active band on the planet, music is measured by the magical feeling it elicits inside us, and record sales shouldn’t be the deciding factor. No matter how great The Rolling Stones were in their pomp – and continue to be today – they aren’t to the taste of everybody.
The ‘greatest band of all time’ term has been used constantly to describe the group for around 50 years, and they’ve never been a fan of it. When you’ve created a backlog of songs as excellent as The Stones, you don’t need to blow your own trumpet, but conversely, it’s understandable why they’ve picked up that title.
During an interview with Rolling Stone in 1995, Jagger opened up on why he hated the term and made a compelling argument against it. “It’s just a stupid epithet. It just seems too Barnum and Bailey to me – like it’s some sort of circus act,” he said.
He added: “The first time we heard it said was to introduce us every night. So I used to say, ‘Will you please not use that as your announcement? It’s so embarrassing. And what does that mean? Does it mean the best, the biggest, the most long-lasting.'”
Keith Richards shared the same stance and rebuffed the suggestion back in 1978 during an interview. “[O]n any given night, it’s a different band that’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world,” he added.
The world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band will differ from person to person, depending on individual taste. While many metrics would suggest The Stones are the best to do it, when did we ever let statistics rule the roost over the heart? Besides, the Rolling Stones already have enough achievements; they don’t need a meaningless title.