We're setting off with soft explosion
|Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie
Watts & Ian Stewart: Charlie in the Stones
Keith: The R&B thing started to blossom and we had Charlie playing on the bill with us in a club, there were two bands on. Charlie was in the other band. He'd left Korner and was with the same cats Brian had said fuck off to about 6 months before. We did our set and Charlie was knocked out by it. You,re great man, he says, but you need a fucking good drummer. So we said, Charlie, we can't afford you, man. Because Charlie had a job and just wanted to do weekend gigs... So he said, OK, and told the other band to fuck off, I'm gonna play with these guys.
Mick: We all thought Charlie was very kind of hip, because of his jackets and shirts. Because he was working in an advertising agency, he was very different. It was good for the band to have someone who was sort of sharp.. We must have convinced him that what we played wasn't rock and roll.
Charlie: I practiced at home to jazz records all the time. The only rock and roll I ever listened to was after the Stones turned me on to it. I used to like Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley and from there I went on to, who's that guy (Roy Orbison), Ooh Poo Pah Doo, and slowly I got on to hearing how good the early Elvis records were... When I joined the Rolling Stones I used to sit around, and Keith and Brian taught me Jimmy Reed. They used to play it all the time; we used to do a lot of those numbers. So I learned it through them... If you're talking about sort of rural blues, Chicago blues, no, I didn't know any of them, really... Without Chuck Berry I don't think music would be where it is today. That's how great he is, but I owe that all to Keith. He taught me to appreciate something like Havana Moon more than Johnny B. Goode.
Ian: With Charlie we were thinking about the atmosphere in the band. In the early days I thought Keith might be an awkward person to get to know. I'd watch Keith with other people, and he always seemed to back away a bit. But he and Charlie were a fuckin' comedy team. They had a dual sense of humor.
Mick: We had the advantage that Keith and I both get along very well with Charlie. The fact that there's three of us who get along so well is very important.
Mick was at school, Keith and Brian would always
play... I was living (with them) at this rent-free
house, just hanging out. But I was lucky because I
had somewhere to go. Twice a week I'd go home. But
they really were amazing days. Brian and Keith
would sit and play Jimmy Reed all day long. I knew
(F)rom Cyril and Alexis - a baptism of fire - it was a natural thing to sit and listen to Jimmy Reed with Keith and Brian for days on end. When I joined the and, this is what we did. We used to start with Jimmy Reed and end with Bo Diddley. There's Brian doing rhythm and Keith playing the lead on the Bo Diddley stuff usually.
|Charlie Watts (2011): Ian Stewart's
If it wasn't for Ian Stewart, I don't think I'd be in the Stones. I found out years and years late it was Stu that kept pushing to get me in the band. I was playing with (Ron Wood)'s brother Art or someone, so at the time I was not aware of all this.
|Charlie Watts (2011): Becoming a
Then I was asked to join the Rolling Stones. It was another band to join. I was in about three of them. No work (laughs), but I was asked to play in three bands. But once I joined the Rollin' Stones, as we were called then, I went to live with them and that's when I formed an impression of them. 'Cause I used to stay in London instead of going all the way back home, I used to hang out. We'd rehearse a lot. They - Brian and Keith - never went to work, so we played records all day, in that rather bohemian life. Mick was at university. But he paid the rent.
|Bill Wyman (1990): The early outcast
You had to be strong to join the Stones. The faint-hearted or ultrasensitive would not have stood the gibes that poured from Mick and Keith. From the minute I joined I realized they had to have someone to poke fun at, not always in a humorous way, often spiteful and hurtful. They HAD to have a scapegoat or a guinea-pig and in the early days it was me, followed by Brian. This could range from the color socks I wore, which they went on about all the time, to the jackets I bought, the cigarettes I smoked, the drinks I drank. And they always made fun of me for liking rock & roll. Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley - I grew up loving the music of these people. The Stones won me over to the blues, but I didn't suddenly take a dislike to straight American pop. They laughed about it all the time, couldn't believe they had recruied a player who was right for the Stones but who liked "white" rock & roll.
|Keith Richards: Club gigs in 1963
That was it. When we got Charlie, that really made it for us. We started getting a lot of gigs. Then we got that Richmond gig with Giorgio Gomelsky and that built up to an enormous scene. In London, that was the place to be every Sunday night. At the Richmond Station Hotel... Most of our gigs were basically West London - Kingston, Richmond, Eel Pie Island. In town on Sundays at Ken Colyer's 51 Club, in Charing Cross Road, and there'd be odd gigs in the East End, like Dalston, still some of the World War II spirit.
|Keith Richards: Destroying the
London jazz club scene
Singlehandedly, we discover we've stabbed Dixieland jazz to death (in London), it's really just collapsed, all because of us. Brian was so pleased to see the last jazz band disband and us taking over the clubs, it was his happiest, proudest moment.
|Bill Wyman, Giorgio Gomelsky, Ian
Stewart & Keith Richards: The Stones' stage
style and the Crawdaddy Club
Bill: We weren't a pop band, we just got together and played the blues music we liked to play. And if we could play in front of a few people who liked it - well, that was the ultimate at that time... We didn't even face the audience. We used to take stools with us, these old rusty metal stools, and we'd sit on these and never face the audience, let alone play it... We used the harmonica a lot back then - in a different way than the Beatles did on Love Me Do - and maracas, tambourines and that Bo Diddley jungle rhythm format. We tried to get that really earthy thing because we liked it. It wasn't fake. It wasn't pseudo. It was really down to earth and very, VERY exciting.
Giorgio Gomelsky: (The Stones) played their shit. Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, things that weren't too difficult. But they were playing with guts and conviction. They were playing blues, but they weren't an academic blues band. The Rolling Stones were more like a rebellion... (It) was a ritual thing, and the Stones were nothing but ritual, really. In the end (at the Crawdaddy Club) people just went berserk...
Stu: The Station Hotel was the most important thing 'cause it was at the Station Hotel that you really started seeing excitement. It was at Richmond that they finally started to get up off their backsides and move, within 2 months they were swinging off the rafters. But the Station Hotel lasted about 10 weeks, because they wanted to pull the place down, and it's still standing there yet. It had a very low ceiling, with girders, so of course they're leaping about among the girders, they're going barmy.
Charlie: At Richmond we became sort of a cult, in a way. Not because of us, it just happens... There were so many people, and because there was no room to dance they used to invent ridiculous dances. There was no room for Mick to dance onstage and he used to just wiggle his arse, which sort of made... I don't know, but... it was lovely... I mean the Crawdaddy was like - it was nice to have a dance. It was nice to be there, and the Crawdaddy was always like that. That was really the best time for response of them all. I mean, it got a bit wearing, if you did the same set, and you knew at a certain time everything would explode. And sure enough it always did, and it always ended up in an absolute... gyrating... riot.
|Keith Richards (2016): The Beatles
opening the door for the Rolling Stones
Our ambition was to be this really hip, cool blues - the best blues band in London. That was the size of the ambition... Until suddenly: boom! Probably the Beatles obviously had a lot to do with this... (W)ithout them we would have been totally unacceptable on a mass basis. They opened (the door) and once that happened the floodgates opened. They surprised us. Cause we thought we were the only guys in the country... And a bunch of guys in Liverpool! Actually they were a vocal group but at the same time another band into rhythm and blues. It was like a revelation to us. And in fact we were a revelation to them.
|Keith Richards & Mick Jagger:
The Stones' reactions to the Beatles
Keith: Brian wanted to be a pop star the minute he saw the Beatles. He got left behind in the crush and someone asked him for his autograph... Success went to Brian's head immediately. And the more successful we became, the more he thought it interfered with his compatibility with the band, the more he thought he was involved in a competition with me and Mick.
Mick: Keith liked the Beatles because he was quite interested in their chord sequences. He also liked their harmonies, which were always a slight problem to the Rolling Stones. Keith always tried to get the harmonies off the ground but they always seemed messy. What we never really got together were Keith and Brian singing backup vocals. It didn't work, because Keith was a better singer and had to keep going, oooh, ooh ooh (laughs). Brian liked all those oohs, which Keith had to put up with. Keith was always capable of much stronger vocals than ooh ooh ooh.
|Mick Jagger: Ian Stewart left out
It was obvious that Ian Stewart didn't fit the picture. He was still playing piano when we wanted him to; he didn't play on everything, anyway, because we were playing electrical instruments and he was playing an unamplified upright piano in a noisy club. You couldn't heart it. I'm not dissing him as though he wasn't part of the whole thing, but there were a lot of numbers which he didn't play on. It was plain that Ian didn't want to be a pop singer.
|Keith Richards: Andrew Oldham
(Andrew Oldham became our first manager). He didn't have the talent, really. He didn't have the talent for what he wanted to be. He could hustle people and thre's nothing wrong with hustling... He had a genius for getting things through the media. Before people really knew what media was, to get messages through without people knowing.
|Keith Richards: Choosing "Come On"
as a single
We were always doing other people's material but (with Come On) we thought we'd have a go at that - Oh, it sounds catchy. And it worked out. At the time it was done just to get a record out. We never wanted to hear it. The idea was Andrew's - to get a strong single so they'd let us make an album which back then was a privilege.
|Charlie Watts (2015): Becoming
(At first i)t was just another band that I was going to be in for three months or three years. I got the sense that this was special a little bit in, say, three months, especially with the audiences' reactions to Mick, Brian and Keith. We'd play these small clubs and it was easy to see the crowd's reaction. Sunday was a big day for the Rolling Stones. We used to leave Edith Grove and do the afternoon thing at Ken Colyer's (Studio 51) in Leicester Square, which got boiling hot and mad after a few weeks. Then we'd pile in the van to Richmond and play there. That was something else, especially when we moved from the (Station Hotel) pub to the Athletic Club.
|Ian Stewart & Keith Richards:
Brian starts digging his grave
Ian: When we started playing outside London, Brian said, I'm the leader of the group and I think I'll stay at the best hotel. All the rest of you can stay in a cheaper hotel. Of course, the rest of the Stones just laughed at him, and that was it from then on. It was all over for him as the leader. He started to isolate himself because of this attitude.
Keith: He had an arrangement with (Eric) Easton, that as leader of the band he was entitled to this extra payment. Everybody freaked out. That was the beginning of the decline of Brian. We said, Fuck you...
|Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman &
Charlie Watts: Getting mobbed
Mick: Someone said to me, the other day, he said, When did you first get MOBBED? (Cackles) You remember that word?
(Ron Wood walks in.)
Woody: Hi boys.
Mick: Hi Ronnie, grab a chair... When did you first get mobbed? and I thought, that's funny, I never... I said, That's a good question, you know. I don't REMEMBER, you know, it was like suddenly -
Bill: (interrupts) I do.
Mick: I... Well, Bill, OK... (Laughs with Charlie) God, he remembers EVERYTHING! I'm trying to remember...
Bill: The first time we got mobbed - (Mick breaks up again) - was about...
Mick: (interrupts) I gotta tell what mobbed is, 'cause a lot of people don't know what mobbed is. Mobbed is when a lot of girls run and jump on you and pull your hair out...
Bill: ...And tear your clothes off...
Mick: OK, that's what that means...
Charlie: Where was it?
Mick: It doesn't happen anymore.
Bill: It was about a third of the way through the Everly Brothers tour...
in the North. It was either in Manchester or
Liverpool, one of those where we were actually
(Long pause, then everyone laughs together.)
|Mick Jagger: "I Wanna Be Your Man"
We knew (the Beatles) by then and we were rehearsing and Andrew brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. I mean the way they used to hustle tunes was great: Hey Mick, we've got this great song. So they played I Wanna Be Your Man and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for, so we did it like Elmore James or something. I haven't heard it for ages but it must be pretty freaky 'cause nobody really produced it... It was completely crackers, but it was a hit and sounded great onstage.
|Keith Richards & engineer Glyn
Johns: Songwriting and a shift of power
Keith: Andrew (Oldham) (that we could write our own songs). The fact that it came up was sheer luck because at that time songwriting was as different to being a guitar player as a bank clerk working in a store, you know. I mean it was a different job. You know, you had songwriters and - although we were well aware that what we were playing was written by the people who played them in the first place, we hadn't considered seriously that we could do it, you know: I'm lucky enough to have a talent for playing the guitar a bit, don't pile up on the optimism and be songwriters as well. But really it's a case of necessities, the mother of invention. You know when you run out of material, you come up with it. If you don't, you know... we wouldn't be talking now (laughs).... (T)hat's why I take my hat off to Andrew. He had no idea, but it was worth a try, and it worked. In that little kitchen Mick and I got hung up about writing songs... We were writing these terrible pop songs (that we gave to other artists) that were becoming Top 10 hits. I thought, What are we doing here playing the fucking blues, and writing these horrible pop songs and getting very successful? They had nothing to do with us, except we wrote 'em.
Mick and I being songwriters affected Brian a lot. It took Brian a long time to come to terms with that because it was very early on. After that he never regained any sort of status. He lost more and more interest as he went along.
Glyn Johns: (Andrew Oldham pushing Mick and Keith into songwriting) really caused Brian to be left behind. Until that time Brian was pretty much the group's spokesman and had some very good musical ideas. A lot of Stones records were built of riffs, and Brian invariably played those riffs. Then Mick and Keith were encouraegd to write and sell their songs and the whole balance of power shifted to them. They and Andrew took over directing the band.