By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves “The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band” in the late '60s, they had already staked out an impressive claim on the title.
As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Mersey beat of the Beatles in the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock. With assured front man Mick Jagger combining with the guitar talents of Keith Richards and Brian Jones, backed by the solid rhythm section of bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, the Stones became the breakout band of the British blues scene, eclipsing many others.
The Stones had an impressive and prolific output of popular hits during the 1960’s with a string of songs which are considered classics and standards. The list would be too extensive to venture into, but is well acknowledged and needs no further documentation.
Over the course of their career, the Stones never really abandoned blues, but as soon as they reached mass popularity, they began experimenting musically. After a brief dalliance with psychedelia, the Stones re-emerged in the late '60s as a jaded, blues-soaked hard rock quintet. The Stones always flirted with the seedy side of rock & roll, and as the hippie dream began to break apart, they thrived in the new rock culture. It wasn't without difficulty, of course.
The band would go through some dramatic personnel changes that would alter their appearance as well as their sound. Shortly after leaving the group, Brian Jones died in July of 1969, to be replaced by guitarist Mick Taylor. Taylor contributed outstanding guitar work in the time he was with them (’69-’74) and those records are considered some of their best studio efforts. During this period they continued to add to their expanding repertoire of songs that would help define their legacy.
Taylor left the band in 1974, auditioning new guitarists,in 1976 they finally settled on Ron Wood.Original bassist Bill Wyman retired from the Stones in 1991; in 1994 bassist Daryl Jones was brought in as the bands new member.
The Rolling Stones continue to record and perform, and while their records aren’t always blockbusters, they are never less than the most visible band of their era — certainly, none of their peers continued to be as popular or productive as the Stones. And no active band since has proven to have such a broad fan base or far-reaching popularity, and it is impossible to hear any of the groups that followed them without detecting some sort of influence, whether it was musical or aesthetic.