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Fri, Apr 18, 2014

VINSON: Rolling Stones still rocking 50 years later

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For this week’s column, I had to make a difficult choice between two high-profile subjects: David Petraeus, a retired four-star general and former director of the CIA, and the Rolling Stones, a template for rock ‘n’ roll longevity.

Because Petraeus is currently involved in a scandal of the highest order, and the primetime media will rehash it to the extent that you won’t know where the lies end and the truth begins, I opted for the Stones.

The Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," for the first time Feb. 9, 1964.

Eight months later, Oct. 25, 1964, the Rolling Stones appeared for the first time on the iconic show, watched nearly every Sunday evening by practically every American family fortunate enough to own a TV set.

Though many bands would follow and add to the cadre – the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, the Yardbirds, Herman’s Hermits, etc. – it was, in my opinion, their appearances that officially launched the British Invasion, which not only affected popular music, but trend and culture, as well.

Further, it was The Beatles' contrast with the Stones that piqued the interest of many – Ali versus Frazier, you might say.

Whereas The Beatles routinely dressed in matching dark suits, white shirts and dark ties, the Stones were a kaleidoscope of fashion. For example, lead vocalist Mick Jagger would be wailing into the microphone, wild-eyed, wearing a polka-dotted tie and a paisley shirt, with Brian Jones in the background playing a sitar, wearing a Nehru jacket.

Accordingly, their music contrasted as well.

During those early years, The Beatles wrote and played pleasing, word-catching melodies, while the Stones had a tendency to be more hedonistically raw, grinding out suggestive, bluesy tunes. A good example is the hit “She Loves You” as compared to the Stones’ hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

I do remember when I first started listening to the Stones around 1965. It was their blues tunes I enjoyed the most. One of my favorites was their recording of “Little Red Rooster.”

However, a few years later, I felt a bit on the naïve side because I learned that a majority of the blues tunes the Stones played and recorded hadn’t been written by any its members. Instead, they’d been written by black American artists, such as Willie Dixon, Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters.

In fact, legend has it that the Stones named their band after a Muddy Waters-penned song, titled “Rollin’ Stone.”

Looking back on it, the Stones played a major role in turning me on to the "black man’s" blues.

I won’t go so far as to say I would not ever have listened to the genre if it hadn’t been for the Stones, but I will say they helped expedite my association with, and appreciation of, the same.

"Crossfire Hurricane," a documentary on the Stones, was scheduled to premiere Tuesday on the HBO Channel. I’m confident, though, it will rerun for quite some time to give all those interested an opportunity to enjoy it.

As far as I’m concerned, the Stones are the “Jumping Jack Flashes” of rock ‘n’ roll. While many successful artists are retired by age 50, Mick and the boys continue to perform live and jump around on stage decades after they first formed the band.

As long as they have some gas, the cameras will continue to flash.
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Media History, Mike Vinson, Music, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Voices
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Members Opinions:
November 19, 2012 at 12:27am
The Stones made a lasting impression on me as well, Mr. Vinson. "Sympathy for the Devil" is a tune that haunts me to this day.
November 19, 2012 at 12:29am
I almost forgot: I can feel the compassion and the love behind your voice.
November 21, 2012 at 8:55am
A good overview on the Rolling Stones. Vinson has a hip, natural touch for this music reporting. I can just see M. Jagger in those early days,wild-eyed', singing Satisfaction!
November 22, 2012 at 9:33am
My favorite Stones album has to be Exile on Main St., which I think most critics regard as their best too. You are right on, when they do the blues or country, they do it probably better than anyone out there. I have never seen them but will probably pay whatever price if they come close to Tennessee.
November 23, 2012 at 1:50pm
American Blues men should tip their hats to the Stones and other British musicians for their love and support of authentic blues. Because of the popularity of the guitar, young Americans most likely would have discovered the blues anyway, but the guitar heavy British invasion surely helped.
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