Rolling Stones: the greatest artistes of all time | Sunday Observer

Rolling Stones: the greatest artistes of all time

7 March, 2021

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. Diverging from the popular pop rock of the early-1960s, the Rolling Stones pioneered the gritty, heavier-driven sound that came to define hard rock. Their first stable line-up was bandleader Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica, keyboards), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bass guitar), and Charlie Watts (drums). The band’s primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group’s manager in 1963. Jones left the band shortly before his death in 1969, having been replaced by Mick Taylor, who in turn left in 1974 to be replaced by Ronnie Wood. Since Wyman’s departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has served as bassist.


Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, the Rolling Stones started out playing covers and were at the forefront of the British Invasion in 1964, also being identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. They then found greater success with their own material as(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,Get Off of My Cloud and Paint It Black became No. 1 hits in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe. Aftermath (1966) – their first entirely original album – is considered the most important of their formative records. In 1967, they had the double-sided hit Ruby Tuesday/Let’s Spend the Night Together and then experimented with psychedelic rock on Their Satanic Majesties Request. They went back to their roots with such hits as Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968) and Honky Tonk Woman (1969), and albums such as Beggars Banquet (1968), featuring Sympathy for the Devil, and Let It Bleed (1969), featuring You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Gimme Shelter. Let It Bleed was the first of five straight No. 1 albums in the UK. In 1969, they were first introduced on stage as ‘The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World’.

Sticky Fingers (1971), which yielded Brown Sugar, was the first of eight consecutive No. 1 studio albums in the US for the Rolling Stones. Exile on Main St. (1972), featuring Tumbling Dice, and Goats Head Soup (1973), yielding the hit ballad Angie, were also best sellers. They released successful albums until the early 1980s, including their two largest sellers: Some Girls (1978), featuring the disco-tinged Miss You; and Tattoo You (1981), featuring the hit rocker Start Me Up. They then kept a low profile until 1989 when they released Steel Wheels, featuring Mixed Emotions, which was followed by Voodoo Lounge (1994), a worldwide number one album that yielded the popular Love Is Strong. Both albums were promoted by large stadium and arena tours as the Stones continue to be a huge concert attraction; by 2007 they had four of the top five highest-grossing concert tours of all time. Their latest album, Blue & Lonesome (2016), became their twelfth UK number-one album. Their recent’ No Filter Tour’ ran for two years concluding in August 2019. In total, they have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums and numerous compilations.

Estimated record sales

The Rolling Stones’ estimated record sales of 240 million makes them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. The band has won three Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2008, the Rolling Stones were listed 10th on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists chart, and in 2019 Billboard magazine ranked them second in their list of the ‘Greatest Artistes of All Time’ based on US chart success. They are ranked fourth on Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘Greatest Artistes of All Time’.


Since their formation in 1962, the Rolling Stones have survived multiple feuds. They have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums, 25 compilation albums and 120 singles. According to, the Stones are ranked the fourth bestselling group of all time. Their top single is (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, regarded by many at the time as ‘the classic example of rock and roll’. The Stones contributed to the blues lexicon, creating their own ‘codewords’ and slang, such as ‘losing streak’ for menstrual period, which they have used throughout their catalogue of songs. The band has been viewed as the’ musical vanguard of a major transfusion’ of various cultural attitudes, making them accessible to youth in both America and Britain. Muddy Waters was quoted as saying that the Rolling Stones and other English bands piqued the interest of American youth in blues musicians. After they came to the United States, sales of Waters’ albums—and those of other blues musicians—increased public interest, thus helping to reconnect the country with its own music.

The Rolling Stones have sold over 240 million albums worldwide and have held over 48 tours of varying length, including three of the highest-grossing tours of all time: Bridges to Babylon Tour, Voodoo Lounge Tour, and A Bigger Bang Tour. In May 2013, Rolling Stone magazine declared them the “most definitional band that rock & roll has produced”. The Telegraph has called Mick Jagger “the Rolling Stone who changed music”. The band has been the subject of numerous documentaries and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Pete Townshend in 1989. The Rolling Stones have inspired and mentored new generations of musical artistes both as a band and individually. They are also credited with changing the “whole business model of popular music” and are tied with Elvis Presley and Robbie Williams for the second most Number 1 albums on the Official UK Chart, surpassed only by the Beatles. In a review of the band’s 2020 acoustic rendition of You Can’t Always Get What You Want for Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home on-line and on-screen concert, Billboard stated that they are “still the masters of delivering unforgettable live performances.”

Multiple awards

The band has received, and been nominated for multiple awards during their 57 years together including: three Grammy awards (and 12 nominations), the Juno award for International Entertainer of the Year in 1991, U.K.’s Jazz FM Awards Album of the Year (2017) for their album Blue & Lonesome, and NME (New Musical Express) awards such as best live band and the NME award for best music film, for their documentary Crossfire Hurricane.

On Jagger’s 75th birthday, scientists named seven fossil stoneflies after present and former members of the band. Two species, Petroperla mickjaggeri and Lapisperla keithrichardsi, were placed within a new family Petroperlidae. The new family was named in honour of the Rolling Stones, derived from the Greek petra that stands for ‘stone’.

The scientists referred to the fossils as Rolling Stoneflies. This theme was continued when NASA named a rock disturbed by the thrusters of the Mars InSight Lander Rolling Stones Rock”, as announced by Robert Downey Jr. during the band’s 22 August 2019 performance in Pasadena, California.