The English rock band The Rolling Stones more than any other group represents the characteristics critics of pop music find repulsive. Since its beginning in 1962 it has cultivated an image of outrageousness, vulgarity, rebellion, arrogance, and sensuality. Although many parents actually enjoy the music of the Beatles, few of them can tolerate The Rolling Stones. The Beatles were the fun-loving, mop-topped entertainers, but the Stones are everything parents least want their children to emulate. As the “bad boys of rock n’ roll” the Stones attracted the attention of millions of young people who identified with that image and that music and who felt that the group sang what they felt inside. A newspaper account reported that “The Stones are perverted, outrageous, violent, repulsive, ugly, tasteless, incoherent. A travesty. That’s what’s so good about them.” In a generation seeking to break with the past into an era of personal freedom the Stones provided the stance and the music to fuel the effort. The group’s influence on rock music has been far-reaching. Today’s “punk rock” movement is little more than the Stones carried to extreme. It rejects society by mocking its standards.
Stylistically the Stones are an extension of black rhythm and blues music. Lead singer Mick Jagger, who with guitarist Keith Richard writes nearly all of the songs, gives the group an explosive, energetic, almost frantic sound. Stones concerts work the fans into a frenzied, ecstatic capitulation to the music. The driving beat and the stage antics of Jagger result in a communal release of frustration and energy. As one of the songs says; “We gotta vent our frustration, before we ...1
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