- BRIAN JONES’ HAIR
Not only the longest, and the blondest, but the most distinctive coif to come out of the (first) British Invasion …hence his invariably being positioned as the focal point of the band’s publicity photos, not to mention album covers. “Personally, I always make a point of cleansing my hair after every meal,” a young Brian would defiantly inform the press when asked if the band, as their promo boasted, bathed only during months with an “R” in them.
- ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM
Take equal parts Colonel Parker and Phil Spector, mix with a liberal helping of Laurence Harvey (cf: Expresso Bongo), garnish with a dash of Anthony Burgess, and you have the wicked wonderlad who transformed himself from failed pop crooner Sandy Beach to frustrated Brian Epstein gofer to chart-topping svengali of the world-famous anti-Beatles… all in a mere eighteen months. Needless to say The Rolling Stones, not to mention Malcolm McLaren, would not – in fact, could not have ever risen to successfully battle the rock wars without the skilled example of Andrew Loog.
- THEIR STAGEWEAR
As a young impressionable tyke, I remember how totally dumbstruck I was when chancing upon the Stones on a Red Skelton television special ’way back in 1964. After months spent innocently bopping to squeaky-clean moptops on The Ed Sullivan Show, imagine my stupefaction when Mick Jagger, sweatshirt hanging, first suggestively shook his maracas in my parents’ living room. Keith hunched menacingly black and pirate-like over his guitar. The rhythm section, shaggy and sullen. And, ever the individual, Brian Jones nattily attired in a modish three-piece, every golden lock in place. It must’ve worked: My grades, to say nothing of my standards, started tumbling the very next day.
- THE “PRODUCTION” ON THEIR RECORDS
The scene is Olympic Sound Studios, London, May 10, 1963 as recording of “Come On,” the Rolling Stones’ first release, has just been completed:
Roger Savage (engineer): “What about the mixing?”
Andrew Loog Oldham (producer): “What’s mixing? ”
And thus the stage was shakily set for decades of recordings which in many ways gave birth to, and in retrospect certainly define, the very essence of garage (aka grunge, roots, and/or punk) rock. From their initial cacophonous Oldham-by-the-seat-of-his-Levis sessions straight on up to their 21st Century multi-million-dollar-yet-still-somehow-boombox-sounding productions, Rolling Stones records are best-selling examples of the fine art of Feeling over Finesse; of Emotion over Edification. And the ultimate irony? “Come On” is still available on SACD.
- CHARLIE WATTS’ DRUMMING
Especially on “Paint It, Black”!
From December’s Children to (the untruncated original issue of) Some Girls, without forgetting Through The Past Darkly, Sticky Fingers (particularly the Spanish edition!) and the until-recently-banned Beggars Banquet, Stones songs have always come both lovingly and luridly packaged inside the most quintessential photos, graphics and liner notes this side of The Who Sell Out. Grand Prize Winner? Without a doubt the bloody-morning-after portrait adorning the superb Between The Buttons [pictured]; again starring Brian “Miss Amanda” Jones. (Runner-up: the utterly ball-busting she-male sleeve on the “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow” single).
- “CHARLIE IS MY DARLING”
Forget A Hard Day’s Night, Lonely Boy and even Gimme Shelter : for a true docu-style glimpse of those once-swinging Sixties, Charlie Is My Darling, produced, of course, by Andrew Oldham, boldly treads where no Bolex had been before (e.g.: into an Irish hotel ballroom circa 3 A.M., where them shit-faced Glimmer Twits butcher Elvis and even Dion (!) whilst sliding tumblers full of champagne back and forth across a grand piano top). Also watch the band being savagely attacked on stage, and hear Brian describe what “surrealism” means to him. Too bad this all took fifty years to make it to Blu-ray though…
- THEIR INSPIRED CHOICE OF SONG MATERIAL
Nary a Stones album or concert has existed solely upon the works of Jagger/Richard(s)… some dusty old (rhythm ‘n’) blues tune has invariably been given the nod, and been performed in testament to, the moss upon which the band has always rolled (except during that Satanic Majesties detour). Hands-down Number One fave cover-tune Of All Time, however, has to be their little-heard manic mangling of “I Wanna Be Your Man” which, with all due respects to Ringo, absolutely shreds the Fab Four’s version. And howzabout that Dylan cover on Stripped, huh?!! Anyways…
- THEIR IMPECCABLE FLAIR FOR SELF-PROMOTION
From the early daze of urinating on gas stations (“we piss anywhere, maaann…”) to their jet-setting, trend-setting string of designer drug busts throughout the Seventies, the Stones have always been their own best press agents. Not surprisingly either, having graduated with day-glo colours from the Andrew Oldham “As Long As They Spell The Name Right” school of PR. And long after most of his bass-playing contemporaries had retired to Britain’s loftier cricket estates and dry-out clinics, the oldest Stone is still taunting ires after marrying every schoolgirl-slash-model within reach. Y’know, I miss Bill Wyman.
- LEWIS BRIAN HOPKINS JONES, 28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969