Today is the birthday of old man Mick Jagger. The frontman
for the Rolling Stones is now 53. Though the group at times now falls into
self-parody, Jagger and Keith Richards will forever be known as one of rock's
best songwriting teams. Songs like "Honky Tonk Women," "Jumping Jack Flash,"
"As Tears Go By," "Satisfaction," "Mother's Little Helper," "Wild Horses" and
so many more have helped define rock 'n' roll, as did the group's once awesome
sound, which evolved from the "white boys play the blues" routine of their
album to something truly distinctive by the time they released December's
Children in the mid-'60s.
Mick Jagger was born Michael Phillip Jagger
today in 1943. Since the Stone's inception in 1962, the flamboyant, endlessly
cocky Jagger has strutted around like he ruled the world; by the time he
anointed the Stones "The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band" in the late '60s,
few people outside of the Beatles disputed the claim. The Stones' success lies
in their interpretation of Chicago Blues; although other English bands such as
The Yardbirds also focused on packaging American blues for white British
audiences, none did so as successfully, or for as long, as the Stones. The
Stones, who burst onto the international music scene in the 1964 British
Invasion, promoted themselves as the bad boys of rock in contrast to the
spirituality and earnestness of The Beatles, the Stones only real competition
in terms of influence. Jagger, a relentless self-promoter, contrasted himself
as the mysterious, charismatic, dangerous frontman compared to the more laconic
Keith Richards, the Stones lead guitarist since the drowning death of Brian
Jones in 1969. The murder of a fan by a Hell's Angel at a 1969 concert at the
Altamont Speedway while the Stones performed only solidified their "dangerous"
reputation. From 1964's England's Newest Hitmakers to 1972's Exile on
Main Street, virtually all of the Stones' albums were classics (1967's
psychedelic Their Satanic Majesties Request being a notable exception)
and their string of hits--"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Mother's Little
Helper," "Paint it Black," "The Last Time," "Ruby Tuesday," "Under My Thumb,"
"Jumpin' Jack Flash," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and "Sympathy for
the Devil," to name a few--were unprecedented in both their popularity
and their dark, explicitly sexual, manipulative and tortuous themes.
The Stones, now
more of a cultural institution than a working band, remains together. When they
released their most recent studio album, Voodoo Lounge, the Stones also
released their own credit card. Jagger's three solo albums--1984's
Boss, 1987's Primitive Cool, and 1993's Wandering
more or less sucked. Also born today, a trio of 1941 babies: Bobby Hebb,
Brenton Wood, and Dobie Gray, plus Queen's Roger Taylor (1949). --Seth