In the summer of ’62, Alexis Korner’s band, Blues Incorporated, had a regular Thursday night slot at the Marquee Club in London’s Oxford Street. In the first week of July, Korner was offered a spot on BBC Radio’s Jazz Club, which didn’t jibe with club manager Harold Pendleton. He issued a blunt ultimatum, saying “If you leave this Thursday to do the broadcast, I will not guarantee your gig the Thursday after.”
Korner’s compromise was to ask his friends Mick Jagger, Ian Stewart, Keith Richards and Brian Jones to substitute for him at the Marquee. Having secured the gig, Mick Jagger’s first press quote was carried by Jazz News, remarking “I hope they don’t think we’re a rock ‘n roll outfit..”
The group didn’t even have a name yet. According to Dave Godin, a friend from Kent, where Mick and Keith grew up, “I was there when they decided on the name, and there is no way that it came from the Muddy Waters 78 “Rolling Stone Blues”. No one would be seen dead with 78s, we exclusively had 45s and 7″ EPs. I had the Muddy Waters “Mississippi Blues” EP on London that includes “Mannish Boy” which has the interjection ‘Ooo I’m a rollin’ stone’.” Not everyone liked the name, particularly Ian Stewart, “I said it was a terrible name. It sounded like the name of an Irish Show Band, or something that ought to be playing at the Savoy.”
Jazz News previewed the show, writing “Mick Jagger, R&B vocalist, is taking an R&B group into the Marquee tomorrow night, while Blues Incorporated do their Jazz Club gig. Called “The Rolling Stones,” the line-up is: Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards & Elmo Lewis (guitars), Dick Taylor (bass), Ian Stewart (piano), & Mick Avory (drums). A second group under Long John Baldry, will also be there.
According to the hand-written set list, among the songs they performed were covers of songs by Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino that included “Kansas City,” “Confessin’ The Blues,” “Bright Lights Big City,” “Down The Road A Piece” and “Dust My Broom.”
In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the historic show, Mick Jagger gave an interview with Rolling Stone saying, “Still the same name. It’s only Keith and myself that are the same people, I think. I’ve tried to find out when Charlie’s first gig was, and none of us can really remember and no one really knows. But it’s an amazing achievement.”
The Rolling Stones are still playing hot summer shows in July, 57 years later, like the one we’ll be experiencing here in Philadelphia on July 23 at Lincoln Financial Field (slightly higher capacity than the Marquee Club). And sorry, Mick, we DO expect a rock ‘n roll outfit! You can leave your ties and vests at home this time…