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Rolling Stones Celebrate 40th Anniversary with <i>Forty Licks</i> - 2002-10-04

The Rolling Stones are often referred to as "The World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band." They've been recording and performing since the British music invasion era of the mid-1960s and have endured the death of a founding member, along with well-publicized substance abuse problems. To celebrate their 40 years as a band, the Stones have released a new double album and launched a world tour. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us more about the legendary Rolling Stones.

When they first came onto the music scene in the 1960s, The Rolling Stones were known as the "anti-Beatles." They played blues and R&B-based music, and sang about love, heartbreak and rebellion, with strong sexual references. They mixed their original tunes with songs by American artists such as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Chuck Berry. The Stones' attitude and scruffy image earned them a reputation as "rock's bad boys." Their recordings have sold in the multi-millions, and their concerts have been some of the most exciting in rock history.

Led by charismatic lead singer Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones have consistently produced music that appeals to fans of all ages and cultures. The band's new double album, Forty Licks, celebrates their longevity with a collection of greatest hits, and looks to the future with four new songs, including Stealing My Heart.

One of the few rock bands that has stayed together for more than 40 years, The Rolling Stones have had a career that reads like a novel. Founding member and known drug addict Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool in 1969. There are still allegations, however, that the evidence was inconclusive, and that Jones was the victim of foul play.

In 1969, the Stones hired members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang to act as security guards for the concert at Altamont Speedway. The stabbing death of an audience member was captured on film as part of the documentary, Gimme Shelter.

Mick Jagger's many love relationships and guitarist Keith Richards' ongoing battle with alcohol and heroin addiction contributed to the aura of the band. And, Mick and Keith would often have public arguments. But, the Rolling Stones kept rocking.

As members of The Rolling Stones approach their 60s, they have no plans to retire or even slow down. To support their new Forty Licks album, the band has started a world tour, and hopes to be able to perform in China for the first time. Abandoning the special effects and lavish stage sets of decades past, The Stones are only taking essential instruments and equipment. Only a horn section has been added to punctuate their blues and R&B numbers. Their January 18 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City will be filmed for an HBO special, that will be their first-ever live TV concert in America. After they play shows in North America, the Stones will head to Europe, Australia and the Far East.