60 Years Ago Today!!! The Rolling Stones Release Debut Single
It was 60 years ago today — June 7th, 1963 — that the Rolling Stones released their debut single — a cover of Chuck Berry‘s “Come On” backed with Muddy Waters‘ Willie Dixon-written “I Want To Be Loved.” Both tracks were recorded on May 10th, 1963 at London’s Olympic Studios, produced by managers Andrew Loog Oldham and Eric Easton and engineered by Roger Savage.
“Come On” featured Mick Jagger on lead vocals, Keith Richards on guitar, Brian Jones on harmonica and backing vocals, Bill Wyman on bass and backing vocals, and Charlie Watts on drums. The song was a moderate hit, peaking at Number 21 on the British charts, and was played intermittently through 1965.
On June 6th, 2013 — 50 years since recording the Chuck Berry obscurity, while performing on their “50 & Counting Tour” Mick Jagger tossed off a few lines of the song with the late-Charlie Watts tapping along a bit of rhythm after Jagger announced it was the song’s golden anniversary.
Early fan Jimmy Page shed some light on the talents of the pure blues, pre-Rolling Stones Brian Jones: “Well, I first saw Brian Jones play in, I think it was the Railway Arms in Ealing, or Ealing Jazz Club. But I remember taking a sort of pilgrimage over there to see Alexis Korner’s blues band, and (Brian) got up and played bottleneck (guitar) and he played some Elmore James, and I thought, ‘Wow.’ ‘Cause I was listening to all of that stuff — as were, y’know, what were a real serious minority of guitarists that were listening to this sort of stuff. And then I found out that he could play harp afterwards, as well, and he was playing pretty good harmonica. And bit by bit it unfolded into what a wonderful musician he was. I mean, he was a really fine musician.”
Not too long ago, the sorely missed Charlie Watts explained that it never crossed his mind that the Rolling Stones would ever make it — let along become rock’s longest lasting rock bands: “No, every band I’d ever been in lasted a week. I mean, you only lasted as long as the guy in the club, or whatever, would book you for. So, y’know, if they didn’t like you, y’know, it was two gigs and that was it. So I always thought it’s gonna last a week, then a fortnight, and suddenly it’s 30 years.”
Keith Richards — perhaps Chuck Berry’s most ardent admirer — continues to inject Berry’s style and energy into his and the Rolling Stones’ work even through today: “Chuck Berry — I always felt that I owed the man, y’know, an incredible debt for his music and for the fact of turning me on (laughs). And at the same time, I just thought Chuck was the epitome of what archetypal rock n’ roll should be. Great songs. Incredible beat. Lyrics — they always got a little joke, or two, in them. Nothing’s too serious. And also, that magical, sort of roll. I guess I gotta say that beautiful bounce and fly on the beat that was very jazz-like. It seemed to be a continuity between. . . I mean other people sort of thinking rock n’ roll was new, I knew it was (as) old as the hills.”
After 60 years in the public eye, we asked Mick Jagger what he recalls about his and the Stones’ early fame: “You kind of always say that it was great to get the band going the very first time, because you start to be successful the first year or first couple of years and like, all your little teenage dreams (laughs) are sort of coming true. And so, you feel very young and you’re very ambitious and you’re starting to be successful and that feels very good. Like, getting your first job, isn’t it, y’know?”