The Rolling Stones were in rising star mode during 1964. After spending the previous two years refining their lineup, re-enlisting pianist Ian Stewart as road manager and session musician and performing in small clubs, the band had broken through in the UK, notching a number of hit covers on the charts. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were also in the nascent stages of forming a songwriting partnership that would be the backbone of the band for the next five decades.
As their profile grew, so too did their notoriety. Explicitly marketed as the ‘anti-Beatles‘, The Stones had slightly longer hair, mismatching attires, and no ties. While this might not sound terribly unconventional today, it was down-right anarchic during the refined mop-top era of the mid-1960s. The Stones also played harder-edged material, incorporating blues and R&B influences into their frenetic rock and roll.
The result was madness that could only be matched by their sometimes-rivals from Liverpool. The Stones attracted hordes of fans, including mobs of screaming girls, at their gigs and appearances. They began rising through the ranks on package tours until they eventually landed in the headlining spot. Occasionally, the band found themselves in the strange position of headlining a show where their supporting act was someone who the band had idolised and covered in the past, as had happened with Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters.
It was a different story in America. The band didn’t have a hit record or much of a presence among the American audience, were mocked on their first television on The Hollywood Palace by host Dean Martin, and were thoroughly upstaged during The TAMI. Show by James Brown. However, their profile was growing, and due to their rebellious nature, along with their rising number of hysterical fans, Ed Sullivan temporarily banned the group after their first appearance in October. Due to exponentially increasing popularity, Sullivan was forced to reconsider.
When the band returned from their first American tour, they were one of the biggest bands in England. A number of short British tours followed, and The Stones’ popularity was hitting a zenith. All of this excitement was captured on film when the band played at the ABC Cinema in Hull on November 21, 1964. Only bits and pieces of the concert survive, but a full version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Around and Around’ is retained. Come for the killer classic footage of the band, stay for the bemused look on Charlie Watts’ face about a minute into the clip. That’s worth the price of admission right there.
By 1965, Jagger and Richards began more thoroughly incorporating their own material into their live and studio repertoire, with hits like ‘The Last Time’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ giving them a second life beyond that of a teeny bopper cover band. The Stones as they are most fondly remembered, which is to say the world’s greatest and most dangerous rock and roll band, was beginning to take shape.