Still gathering no moss


In a recent post we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles film and album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in 1964. This album displaced the Rolling Stones first album in July after a reign of 12 weeks at the number one spot in the charts. With this the Beatles regained the top spot and the chart rivalry between the two bands was underway. As someone who (just) remembers that rivalry, I’m posting this complementary blog as a gesture of even-handedness!

The Rolling Stones’ album cover design is interesting as it features Nicholas Wright’s moody photograph of the band; and with the exception of the Decca logo, no title or identification information. The band was suitably confident in their brand recognition that the image alone was enough to promote the record. London Records, Decca’s American label, were not so confident of this approach so clumsily added the phrase “England’s Newest Hit Makers” across the front cover.

The album was recorded in the Regent’s Sound Studios, Denmark Street in about ten days. Keith Richards said in an interview

“We did our early records on a 2-track Revox in a room insulated with egg cartons at Regent Sound. It was like a little demo in Tin Pan Alley, as it used to be called. Denmark Street in Soho.”

The Rolling Stones weren’t the only band to make use of Regent Sound Studio. Through the 60s and 70s it played host to many other bands and artists including The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Mott the Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan and Black Sabbath who recorded the iconic single and album “Paranoid” .

Life, by Keith RichardsWestminster Libraries hold a number of books, recordings and DVDs by and relating to the Stones, such as Keith Richards’ autobiography Life.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the Stones in contemporary context would do well to explore our newspaper archives. You will need your library membership card number for free access.

It is clear that many adults feared the rise of the Rolling Stones, and as with the punk revolution ten years later, a moral panic ensued with fears of the collapse of civilisation. This prompted the famous quotation “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” asked by a Canadian broadcaster after he witnessed the teen hysteria and Mick Jagger’s onstage performance in 1965.
From The Times Digital Archive (log in with your library card), the following two reports give a flavour of this feeling: ‘No Lessons For Boys With Long Hair’ (19 April 1965, page 5): three boys from an Aylesbury secondary school were made to sit in the school dining room away from other pupils classes as they had refused to cut their hair until Mick Jagger did. More seriously, ‘Youth Killed Himself After Haircut” (12 February, 1966, page 6): The boy’s uncle and guardian had forced the boy to a barber after he had grown his hair long in imitation of the Rolling Stones.

Some of the most intense newspaper coverage came in 1967 with the famous drugs bust. Events began with a police raid on Keith Richards’ house Redlands in February following a tip off (probably by The News of the World) that there were drugs on the premises. It was left to the News of the World to titillate and horrify its readers with a full account of the raid. Other details only emerged from the separate trials of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Times straying into tabloid territory gave a full account under the heading ‘Young woman “wearing only fur rug” at guitarist’s party’ (Times 29 June 1967, page 2).

There were many protests at the harsh sentences including from The Times’ editor William Rees-Mogg, under the now famous headline ‘Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?’ (Times, 1 July 1967, page 11). In it he argued that

“there must remain a suspicion in this case that Mr Jagger received a more severe sentence than would be thought proper for any purely anonymous young man.”

Finally on the 31st July the Appeals Court overturned Keith Richards’ conviction and Mick Jagger’s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge. Probably in gratitude to the newspaper’s intervention, Mick Jagger gave an exclusive interview in the next day’s issue: ‘Mr Mick Jagger speaks his mind’ (Times, 1 August 1967, page 8).

You can find all the above articles and more on the Times Digital Archive, by date or by simply searching for ‘The Rolling Stones’.

[Francis]

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