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Rolling Stones On Air in the Sixties

Join The Rolling Stones in the mid 1960s, as the iconic band were getting their foothold on the music world...

The UK pop charts in the mid-1960s – and for that matter for much of the decade – were a veritable potpourri, although it would be another decade before having bowls of dried flowers around the house became chic.

In the first week of January 1965, the Beatles were, as usual or so it seemed, at No.1, but there was only one other group in the UK Top 10 – the Moody Blues. The other eight places were occupied by Twinkle, Petula Clark,Val Doonican, Gene Pitney, Sandie Shaw, P.J. Proby, Cliff Richard and Georgie Fame, with only the latter offering some real musical credibility.

In America, it was marginally better, with the Beatles occupying two of the top five spots, including the top spot, along with Bobby Vinton, the Searchers and the Supremes. A week later, the Stones made the Hot 100 with ‘Heart Of Stone’, a single released by London Records in America that was just an album track in the UK. London, in their wisdom, decided not to release ‘Little Red Rooster’, even though it had been No.1 in the UK the previous month and was still on the UK Top 20.

America and Britain were more than just ‘two countries separated by the same language’ as George Bernard Shaw had so eloquently put it. They were, and are, divided by the North Atlantic, which meant that during this time it was very much the Dark Ages of communications. Telephone calls had to be booked between the two countries, you couldn’t just dial an overseas number; telegrams and cables were the speediest, if confusing, means of communication. Everything took a while to make the Atlantic crossing, and when musicians did they were often treated with a degree of wonderment because of being ‘different’, and none more so than the Stones.


Photo credit: Rex/Shutterstock, Dezo Hoffman 

Two US tours in 1964 had given the Stones a toehold with American teenagers, but it was in 1965 that the band turned it into a full-scale assault. They also made their first appearance on Shindig!, although it was taped in the UK. Their third US tour was in April and May, a far bigger affair than their second at the tail end of 1964; come October, their fourth US tour was a huge affair, playing thirty-seven venues in thirty-eight days.

In and around these American tours were television appearances and unprecedented radio coverage. All this resulted in the Stones securing their first US No.1 in June 1965 with ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, followed by a second in November with ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’. Both songs also topped the UK charts, as did ‘The Last Time’, earlier in the year. It all added up to the fact that by year-end the Stones were more successful on the UK singles chart than the Beatles, and they certainly pushed them hard in America, where ‘Satisfaction’ was the ‘top hit’ of the year, according to Billboard magazine.


By year-end the Stones were more successful on the UK singles chart than the Beatles

This was also the year that the Stones became a worldwide success. In January, they toured Australia and New Zealand. In March their first, albeit short, European tour to Denmark and Sweden was followed by another mini-tour to Scandinavia in June. Prior to heading to the USA for their fourth tour, the Stones went to West Germany and Austria and, aside from their music being a sensation, it was on news programmes that the band was most often seen, as riots broke out at almost every show on the six-city tour. In amongst it all there were UK tours which resulted in the band barely having time to catch their breath between gigs, TV, radio, recording and media access that seemed to be on a twenty-four-hour non-stop basis.

Come the end of 1965 and there was a subtle shift in pop music. The LP had become something else, something other than a hastily cobbled-together collection of tracks that were designed to cash in on an artist’s latest hit single. The Beatles released Rubber Soul in December and this was a clear sign of the changing times. As the Stones’ fourth US tour came to an end, they went into RCA Studios to record tracks that would appear on Aftermath, which, like Rubber Soul, was something very different from what other artists were doing. One of the tracks the Stones recorded in December was ‘Goin’ Home’, which ran for over eleven minutes on Aftermath, the longest rock song to appear on an album up until this point.

And the key word is ‘rock’. This was the beginning of a subtle shift away from the disposability of pop to the more credible, more thoughtful undertones of rock music. And to put it all into perspective, on 18 December Keith celebrated his 22nd birthday, just as Mick had done a few months earlier.


Photo credit: Getty Images, The Sydney Morning Herald

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The Rolling Stones: On Air in the Sixties

Richard Havers (and others)

Be there again! The Christmas present that brings back the sixties.

From their first TV appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars!, buttoned up in matching hounds-tooth suits at manager Andrew Loog Oldham's insistence, to the louche rockers who appeared on stage for the televised free concert in London's Hyde Park in 1969, this book looks back at their career-defining broadcasts, remembering the music, the clothes, the fans, the rivals and friends, and the world at large around them, divided by generation between broad-sheet moral panic and hysterical teen riots.

Featuring previously unseen facsimile documents from the BBC and commercial TV and radio archives and many stunning unseen images, this is history as it happened, in context, immediate and vivid, offering new insights and a fresh unexplored perspective on the story of one of the greatest great rock 'n' roll bands the world has ever seen.

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