The Rolling Stones are the very definition of the word longevity, and few souls have been at the top of the music industry for as long as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts have. They have been through hell and back together during a career that has seen them fight addiction, grief, and everything in between. Somehow though, the Stones have survived through all of it.
Few writing partnerships can boast a 50-year relationship. In fact, few partnerships, in general, have lasted as long as the relationship between The Rolling Stones’ singer Mick Jagger and his partner in crime Keith Richards. Their time together in one of the biggest bands the world has ever seen is well documented but the singer and guitarist, who together wrote some of the Stones’ most longstanding songs, have been friends for far longer than you might imagine. Even though they famously always don’t see eye to eye, there’s a brotherly bond that has served them beautifully well for the majority of their lives.
Little did they know back when they were kids imitating the rock ‘n’ roll stars of the day and living a street away from each other, that one day they would become one of the biggest titans of music to ever exist. “We lived one street away; his mother knew my mother, and we were at primary school together from [ages] 7 to 11,” Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. “We used to play together, and we weren’t the closest friends, but we were friends.”
Then they would drift apart when they were 11 when Jagger when the frontman would be accepted into the local grammar school, whereas Richards enrolled at the nearby comprehensive. Even though they lived close by they fell out of touch until their stars realigned.
“This is a true story – we met at the train station,” Jagger added in the same interview. “I had these rhythm & blues records, which were very prized possessions because they weren’t available in England then. And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, these are really interesting’. That kind of did it. That’s how it started, really.”
That bond over music formed The Rolling Stones and the energy they had as a new band quickly made them the leading lights of London’s music scene thanks to their zealous live-shows that were unparalleled with anybody else at that time.
Back in 2015, Jagger opened up about what his advice would be for bands who found themselves in a similar position to The Stones back in the early ’60s. While a lot has changed over that time, the principles of what makes a good band remains the same for Jagger, who said: “Every night the audience is like a challenge for me. Every time you go out there it’s different. You think it’s the same show, but it’s a different show, different place, different audience,” said the singer.
“For a younger band, you got to bring a sense of uniqueness to every show you do, and you got to sort of try somehow to forgot — even though it appears to everyone it’s the same show — but to yourself, it’s always got something different and special about it. I’m not sure if all young bands want to stay on the road as long as we have. Maybe they’ll want to do something else,” he added.
It’s staggering that an artist as talented as Jagger still sees live-shows as a challenge, even with close to 60-years of experience under his belt, he still gives it all every night on stage, which is why millions still flock to see The Stones every time they tour. That ability to never take his foot off the gas, despite the riches in his bank and the professionalism he continues to show, is why The Rolling Stones are still one of the world’s must-see bands.