The Rolling Stones: All the cool and crazy facts you may not know

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The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous and successful rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time.

This summer, they’re headed out on a U.S. stadium tour, the iconic band’s first extended run of concerts in the United States since 2015.

In advance of their shows, check out these interesting facts you may not know about the band.

Their Logo Is Inspired By Kali, The Hindu Goddess Of Everlasting Energy

Known as “Tongue and Lips” or “Hot Lips,” the band’s famous logo was created by John Pasche, who designed art for other famous musicians in the ’70s.

While Jagger requested the likeness of the Hindu goddess Kali, often depicted with a very pronounced mouth with the tongue sticking out, Pasche ended up using the front man’s own mouth as his template for the signature logo. It debuted on 1971’s “Sticky Fingers” LP.

rolling stones logo photo
Getty Images | Oli Scarff

Martin Scorcese Is A Big Fan

Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorcese has used the band’s songs in several of his movies, including “Mean Streets,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino” and “The Departed.” He also directed their 2008 concert film, “Shine A Light.”

“Gimme Shelter” is a particular favorite of his, and the song made an appearance in “The Departed,” “Casino” and “Goodfellas.”

martin scorcese photo
Getty Images | Vittorio Zunino Celotto

Mick Jagger And Keith Richards Were Classmates

Frontman Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards go way back, having met as pupils at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford, Kent, England. They went to separate secondary schools but reconnected when they ran into each other years later. They played their first gig together on July 12, 1962, in London.

mick jagger wentworth primary school photo
Getty Images | Stones Archive

They Work Well Under Pressure

Richards revealed that the band’s first original song, “As Tears Go By,” was written under duress when then-manager Andrew Loog Oldham locked him and Jagger in a kitchen for 36 hours until they came up with a tune. The song was originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull, and the Stones recorded their own version in 1965. It peaked at No. 6 on the American Billboard Charts.

keith richards mick jagger photo
Getty Images | Scott Gries

Mick Jagger Has Eaten His Words

Back in 1975, Jagger didn’t think he’d be performing for much longer.

“I only meant to do it for two years,” he told People at the time. “I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I’d rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.”

Of course, he’s still playing “Satisfaction,” as well as a  myriad of the band’s other hits, at the age of 75.

mick jagger singing photo
Getty Images | Fiona Goodall

The Band Popularized The Tequila Sunrise

If you like to sip on a Tequila Sunrise on the beach, you can thank the Rolling Stones. In his autobiography, “Life,” Richards says that the band’s 1972 tour was unofficially known as the “cocaine and Tequila Sunrise” tour due to the band’s drug and drink of choice at the time. They were introduced to the cocktail at the Trident in Sausalito, California.

tequila sunrise photo
Flickr | defaulterror

Mick Jagger Has No Regrets—At Least When It Comes To His Outfits

In addition to his musical chops, Jagger became known for his bold fashion sense. Throughout his career, his eye-catching ensembles became as much a part of his identity as his trademark vocals.

“There are so many ghastly awful ones,” he told the New York Times in 2016 of some of his fashion “misses” over the years, “but at the time, everyone loved them, you know what I mean?”

mick jagger jumpsuit photo
Getty Images | Peter Macdiarmid

A Founding Member Was Fired Before the Stones Took Off

Ian Stewart, who often went by “Stu,” was an original member of the Rolling Stones, but was fired by the band’s manager because he felt Stewart (pictured below, right) didn’t have the rock star look. However, he continued to play piano for the band and also acted as their road manager until his death in 1985.

“We are only here because of Ian Stewart,” Richards said of Stewart’s contributions. “Without him, the band would never have existed.”

Getty/Jan Olofsson

Mick Jagger Practices Ballet

In addition to running, swimming, Pilates and yoga, Jagger also turns to ballet to keep in shape. He certainly seems quite limber for his age! Melanie Hamrick, Jagger’s girlfriend and the mother of their 2-year-old son Devereaux, is a professional ballerina.

melanie hamrick photo
Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

The Beatles Wrote A Song For The Stones

Often pitted against each other for the unofficial title of the best rock band, the Beatles actually wrote a song that ended up being recorded by the Rolling Stones. Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote “I Wanna Be Your Man” for the Stones in 1963, and it climbed to the top of the charts. Then Ringo Starr sang it on the Beatles album “With the Beatles,” which came out just weeks later.

Victor Blackman/Getty

They’re The 13th Best-Selling Music Artists Of All Time

Using the metric of total certified album units sold, as provided by the Recording Industry Association of America, the Stones are the 13th best-selling music artist of all time with 66.5 million units sold. That puts them right below Barbra Streisand (68.5 million). The top spot belongs to their rival the Beatles (178 million).

rolling stones records photo
Getty Images | Peter Macdiarmid

Their Concerts Are Still A Hot Ticket

When their “Zip Code” tour wrapped in 2015, it had grossed $109.7 million from 628,733 tickets sold at 14 concerts. That ranked them the top tour of the year, ahead of Dave Matthews Band and Billy Joel. Together with the two most recent tours before that, their three most recent tours grossed $401 million.

rolling stones concert photo
Getty Images | Charles McQuillan

They Played For Free For A Crowd Of 1.5 Million

In 2006, the Rolling Stones staged a free concert at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They played for two hours for a crowd of 1.5 million. Jagger addressed the crowd in Portuguese throughout the show.


Keith Richards Has Gone Nine Days Without Sleep

The hard-partying guitarist says he once went nine full days without sleep.

“Nine days without a wink,” he claimed in his autobiography, “Life.”

“I fell asleep standing up, eventually,” he wrote. “I was just putting another cassette back on the shelf, and I was feeling great, and I turned ’round and fell asleep. I fell against the edge of the speaker. Woke up in a pool of blood, wondering, ‘Is that claret?'”

keith richards photo
Getty Images | Charles McQuillan

Keith Richards Was A Boy Scout

Although he cultivated a classic rebel image as an adult, Richards was actually a Boy Scout as a child. He credits the experience with teaching him the value of loyalty. He was eventually thrown out for getting into a fight.

keith richards photo
Getty Images | Theo Wargo

Charlie Watts Doesn’t Drive

Drummer Charlie Watts has a thing for vintage cars, despite the fact that he doesn’t have a license.

“I do have four vintage cars and can’t drive the bloody things,” he told NME.

charlie watts photo
Getty Images | Kevin Winter

Ronnie Woods Wouldn’t Do Chemotherapy

When guitarist Ronnie Woods was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was grateful it did not require chemotherapy. He says he would have refused the treatment if necessary.

“It’s more I wasn’t going to lose my hair,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2017 of his decision. “This hair wasn’t going anywhere.”

ronnie woods photo
Getty Images | Michael Loccisano

Jagger And Richards Were Bailed Out of Jail By The Mayor Of Boston

Ahead of a show in Boston in 1972, Jagger and Richards were arrested and jailed for assault in the wake of a fight that broke out at a small airport in Rhode Island. Then-Boston Mayor Kevin White bailed them out and attempted to keep the crowd calm while they waited for the rock stars to arrive. They ended up riding in a limousine, complete with a police escort, to their concert.

Spencer Grant/Getty

They’ve Dodged The Tax Man

The Stones recorded their 1972 album “Exile on Main Street” in France in an effort to avoid high taxes in England. With the aid of Dutch accounting firm Promogroup, the musicians established private foundations that would allow them to leave their vast wealth to their heirs, tax-free. The Netherlands does not tax royalty payments.

Amsterdam, Bicycle City
Getty Images | Mark Dadswell

Mick Jagger Dropped Out Of College To Pursue A Career in Music

Before the Rolling Stones took off, Jagger balanced his budding rock ‘n’ roll career with his studies as a student at the London School of Economics. Eventually, he couldn’t do both.

“It was very, very difficult because my parents obviously didn’t want me to do it,” he told Rolling Stone in 1995 of his decision to quit school.

mick jagger photo
Getty Images | Charles McQuillan

Mick Jagger Thinks ‘Exile On Main Street’ Is Overrated

Although it’s a critical favorite, Jagger doesn’t think 1972’s “Exile on Main Street” is the band’s best work.

“It’s a bit overrated, to be honest,” he told Rolling Stone in 1995. “Compared to ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Beggars Banquet,’ which I think are more of a piece, I don’t see it’s as thematic as the other two.”


There’s A Mick Jagger-Carly Simon Duet That Was Lost for 46 Years

In 1972, Jagger recorded a duet with Carly Simon. The tape was lost until collector Matt Lee discovered it in 2018. The song is believed to be called “Fragile.”

carly simon photo
Getty Images | Larry Busacca

Mick Jagger Spends His Downtime Like Everyone Else

When it comes to taking a day off, Jagger spends his leisure time the way a lot of people do: relaxing.

“Get up as late as possible, have breakfast as late as possible, do a tiny bit in the gym, go out for a walk, read a book,” he said of how he spends his time when he’s not working. He’s also an avid cricket fan.

mick jagger photo
Getty Images | Charles McQuillan

The Original Cover Art for ‘Beggars Banquet’ Was Replaced

The original cover art for the 1968 album “Beggars Banquet” featured a bathroom wall full of graffiti. However, it was determined that showing a toilet was too taboo, and it was replaced with a much tamer design that resembled a formal invitation. The original art was not revealed until the 1980s.

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Keith Richards’ Kids Introduced Him To Ed Sheeran

When it comes to keeping up with modern music, Keith Richards relies on his kids to keep him hip.

“What have I heard lately? Ed Sheeran. I thought, he’s very interesting,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015.

ed sheeran photo
Getty Images | Phil Walter

Bono Admires Jagger’s Business Sense

Fellow rocker Bono of U2 is grateful to Jagger for paving the way for musicians to make savvy financial moves.

“People despise Mick because they think he only thinks about money, but he is a businessman above all else,” the singer said of Jagger. “The fact is, he understands the business. Why? Because the Stones lost a lot of money in the beginning. I have to kneel in reverence to what he has achieved.”

bono mick jagger photo
Getty Images | Stephen Lovekin

They Were The First International Rock Band To Play In Cuba

In 2016, the Rolling Stones became the first international rock band to play in Cuba. Rock music was banned on state TV and radio in the country for years. The free concert was attended by more than 100,000 fans.

rolling stones cuba photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

Mick Jagger Likes ‘Moves Like Jagger’

Jagger thinks Maroon 5’s 2010 hit named after his infamous dance skills is a great tribute. He called the song “very flattering.”

moves like jagger photo
Getty Images | Christopher Polk

The Stones Made Their Debut On ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964

The Rolling Stones made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Oct. 25, 1964. They performed the Chuck Berry song “Around & Around.” They went on to make six appearances on the show by the end of the decade.

Ed Sullivan

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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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