It would be hard to imagine an America without rock and roll, and it would be hard to imagine rock and roll without the Rolling Stones. Fifty years ago their decadence, taste for excess, and a signature sound-took them to the tops of the pop charts and height of fame.
As Vietnam was escalating and their records going gold the band had wealth well beyond their early dreams, and were attracting a lot of press. England at the time was in a cultural shift and the older generation was at odds with the “hippie” youth. Drug arrests, car accidents, and critical articles about their artistic merits dragged the Stones into a darkness as the rest of the world was in a neon Day-Glo daze. Brian Jones’ death in 1969 would shift the Rolling Stones direction for the rest of their carreer but not before recording “Beggars Banquet” with him.
If a picture can say a thousand words, the middle cover of the record could silently explain the attitude the band had towards their success. Pictured as royalty at a banquet surrounded by all types of garish accoutrements-the band looks dazed and confused perhaps pondering the future of their careers. Five decades later the band is still together and recording albums with a final tour supposedly in the works.
The socially detached rebel is the signature figure of rock music these days, could it be said the Rolling Stones created the idea that it is cooler to be disappointed in your wealth and fame, than to wallow idly as you lose your top-spot? And as a band that has taken the changes in popular music in stride while continuing to be successful, does it lower an artist’s or band’s integrity to shift with these trends to remain wealthy, or allow their creativity to flourish?