x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Five decades on, the Stones are still rolling along

The Rolling Stones 50 is a visual diary of the biggest rock 'n roll band in history. We look at some special moments.

The Rolling Stones' concert in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, on February 18, 2006. Courtesy Mirrorpix
The Rolling Stones' concert in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, on February 18, 2006. Courtesy Mirrorpix

July 12, 1962 is without doubt a crucial day in pop music history. Fifty years ago this Thursday, The Rolling Stones played their first gig at the Marquee Club in London's Oxford Street. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and, later, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, would go on to become not only the biggest rock 'n' roll band in the world, but, as a new book explores, would help define global popular culture. The Rolling Stones 50 isn't, however, a dusty biography, but a comprehensive visual record of half a century in the public eye, drawing primarily from The Daily Mirror's archive, as well as ephemera such as posters and record cover art. Tristan de Lancey, who commissioned and directed the book, talks abouthis favourite shots.

Isle Of Man, August 1964 (p88/89/90/91)

There's fantastic contrast in the shots taken here. They're taking tea on the lawn of the hotel during the afternoon, and as Charlie Watts says in the book, it's "all very civilised, in marked contrast to the scenes at our concerts". And we actually have the shots of the gig in the Palace Ballroom later that evening in Douglas, where there was a mini riot. The police were so worried about the potential for trouble - it tended to follow them around at this point - that they sat an alsatian police dog at the front of the stage to stop fans from getting to the band. It's the stuff of legend ... and we have pictures, which have never been seen before. Mick's notes about the police's canine tactics are great, too: "It seemed to work, but I'm not sure the dog liked all the noise." You get a real sense of how edgy rock 'n' roll was.

Manchester, 1965 (p126/27)

I love the fact that in this series of pictures, The Rolling Stones emerge from the back of this small, unmarked van, so that they could get into the venue without being mobbed. They're running really quickly down the street to get to the stage door, but there's an element of cheekiness amid the subterfuge; you can see from the smiles on their faces that they're actually quite enjoying the drama of it. But they had to sneak around in this way because there was always this sense that rock 'n' roll was so rebellious that anything could happen at any time. I think what these pictures really convey is the sense of excitement around The Rolling Stones in the mid 1960s - if I have one regret in life, it's not being old enough to have experienced that era for myself.

London, 1969 (p188-193)

The Hyde Park show in 1969 was one of the most seminal events of the 1960s and one of the largest gatherings of any kind held during that time. Keith Richards says in the book that there were up to 500,000 people there. Having access to the archive was great, because while other publications or books perhaps choose one shot to represent the day, The Mirror sent out all these individual photographers to cover it. So effectively, we could tell the story from eight in the morning until the end of the gig, by printing the reel of negatives. That's the beauty, sometimes, of photojournalism rather than a specialist, staged photographer. What I also love is that these shots aren't just of the band, they really convey the excitement of being there as a fan.

Rio, 2006 (p340)

This sums up their enduring appeal for me - it's a lovely counterpoint to the Hyde Park images in that, 37 years later, they are still drawing massive crowds, this time to Copacabana beach in Brazil. There's so much interest, boats are queuing up in the harbour to watch the gig. Can I put my finger on why? I think it's because their music remains timeless, but also because they worked so hard at being a big rock 'n' roll band, touring around the world in a way no band did before them. If you like music, basically, you know that you probably have to see the Stones at least once.

The Rolling Stones 50 (Thames & Hudson) is out on Thursday. Visit www.thamesandhudson.com