It’s Only Rock N Roll But We Like It – A Rolling Stones Visual History

The greatest rock n’ roll band in the world: The Rolling Stones – 1972


The Rolling Stones – 2015


The Rolling Stones formed in London in 1962 when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts got together and played for the first time. Little did they know that they were about to change the world and rock n roll forever. Soon Mick Taylor would take over at bass and the band became a legend.

Keith Richards During the Stones 1972 American Tour


Heavily influenced by American rock and blues, the Stones married showmanship with rootsy and soulful blues with influences like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Didley. Their shows were are barrage of sound and fueled by drugs and alcohol. The bands first number 1 hit, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, was recorded in May 1965 and became the song that sent them on their way.

Irony at its best. Keith Richards on tour in the USA – 1972


Style points were always easy to come by when your name is Keith Richards. The flashy guitar player who has aged more like a hard driven roadway than a fine wine can still shred the songs that put them on the map in the 1960’s and 70’s. The album Beggars Banquet is still a gold standard and features their greatest hit, “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Jimi Hendrix visits with Mick Jones backstage at Madison Square Garden before the Stones took the stage in 1969


When asked about the Beggars Banquet album, Richards said, “There is a change between material on Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet. I’d grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit…you know, the beads and bells and such. Who knows where these things come from, but I guess the music]was a reaction to what we’d done in our time off and also that severe dose of reality. A spell in prison … will certainly give you room for thought … I was f*cking pissed with being busted.”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on stage in San Francisco in 1969


A free festival in Altamont California speedway was to shift from a night of excitement and music to one of murder and fear. That night one person was murdered, two were killed in a hit and run car accident and one person drowned in a canal adjacent to the venue. Cars were stolen, babies were born and the Hells Angels played security much to the horror of fans and the Stones. Before the Stones closed out the show, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young also took the stage. By that time, the crowd had swelled to 300,000 people.

The Stones playing live in Oakland in 1972


The Hells Angels were hired as security for the show, their reputation was usually enough to keep a handle on things at previous shows that they had worked as security for the Stones.  This night, video shows many of the Hells Angels to be high on cocaine and LSD. By the time the Rolling Stones took the stage,  the the night was off to an ugly ending as fights started erupted between Angels and the crowd.

In 1969, the Rolling Stones played a free show in Altamont and the results were deadly


Mick Jagger was punched in the head by a “fan” as he exited his helicopter. This set the tone for the set onstage and a visibly shaken Jagger urged the crowd to: “Just be cool down in the front there, don’t push around.” As the Stones jammed into “Sympathy for the Devil,”a fight broke out directly at the foot of the stage.  The band paused their set while the security detail of the Hells Angels restored order.

Mick Jagger is shaken up when he witnesses the Hells Angels kill a spectator


Soon there was another disturbance when the Hells Angels got into a fight with a man named Meredith Hunter, as he tried to climb onstage. One Hells Angel grabbed Hunter’s and proceeded to punch and chase him into the crowd. Enraged, Hunter returned and pulled a gun, aiming it at the stage and at Mick Jagger. The Hells Angels can be seen on film stabbing and chasing Hunter out of sight. He was later taken away with three stab wounds and a severe beating. He died at the scene.

The Disaster at Altamont was caught on film.