The List: The 10 Worst Moments of the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones' (from left) Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pose for a 1998 group portrait. (Associated Press) The Rolling Stones’ (from left) Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pose for a 1998 group portrait. (Associated Press)

The British rock ‘n’ roll band the Rolling Stones celebrated the 50th anniversary of the group’s formation this month. The Rolling Stones were the bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll and the antithesis of the Beatles. They lived decadent lifestyles, ingested kilos of cocaine, wrote dirty songs and made tons of money. The List this week looks at the Top 10 Worst Moments in the history of the Rolling Stones.

  • 10. Worst album — The album “Dirty Work,” released in 1986 is often viewed as the band’s worst recording, producing no favorable hits. As for the band’s worst song, try the title track from the album “Emotional Rescue” released in 1980. Mick Jagger tries to sound like the Bee Gees.
  • 9. Filthy words — In February 2006 the band performed at the Super Bowl and Mr. Jagger was asked to omit some words with sexual connotations from two songs. As expected, he did not and his microphone was temporarily dipped.
  • 8. “The Ed Sullivan Show” — In a performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967, Sullivan requested Mr. Jagger to change the line in the song “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” to “Let’s spend some time together.” After cursing out talent coordinator Vince Calandra before going on the stage, Mr. Jagger does what he is told but sarcastically exaggerates the altered lyrics and rolls his eyes. 
  • 7. The “Undercover” album art cover — The 1983 album “Undercover” had one of the absolutely worst art covers: a naked lady with her private parts covered by decals which could be peeled off.
  • 6. X-rated documentary — On their 1972 tour of the U.S., the Rolling Stones let Robert Frank film a behind-the-scenes documentary. When the band saw the finished project, it was so provocative, raunchy and raw they sued to prevent it being shown. Mr. Frank won a court ruling which allows him to screen it four times a year. According to Rolling Stone magazine, in one scene a roadie “has sex with a reluctant-looking groupie on a plane while the band bangs on percussion instruments.” “I hope you are all ready for misogyny, boredom and ecstasy — stupor and exhaustion,” warned Jeff Rosenheim, when it was screened at Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009.
  • 5. Drug bust —Mr. Jagger was arrested in 1967 with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards for possession of an illegal drug and was initially sentenced to a year in prison. Both convictions were overturned following an appeal. In 1977, Mr. Richards was arrested in Toronto on charges of cocaine and heroin possession but escaped punishment. Years later, Rolling Stone guitarist Ron Wood estimated he spent more than $25 million on drugs and alcohol.
  • 4. Misogynist billboard — The Rolling Stones promoted their album “Black and Blue” with a  billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood that featured model Anita Russell bruised and bound by Mr. Jagger under the phrase, “I’m Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones — and I love it!” The billboard was removed after protests by the group Women Against Violence Against Women, although it garnered the band widespread media coverage.
  • 3. Kids as drug mules — When the band was recording “Exile on Main St.” in France in the early 1970s, socialite Tommy Weber flew in for Mr. Jagger’s wedding with a kilo of cocaine.  According to Robert Greenfield in his recent “Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell With the Rolling Stones,” Weber got the drugs past customs by using money belts strapped underneath the clothes of his two small sons, who were to be pageboys at Mr. Jagger’s wedding.
  • 2. The death at Altamont — During a performance of “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, a fight erupted in front of the stage. The Stones continued to perform through the melee. Then, during the song “Under My Thumb,” 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who were hired as security and paid with free beer. The stabbing was recorded in the film “Gimme Shelter.”
  • 1. The death of Brian Jones — Hard-living Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool in July 1969. The talented instrumentalist and original leader of the Stones died at his mansion in rural Sussex, months after leaving the band. The death was ruled “death by misadventure.” It was generally assumed, the 27-year-old’s death was due to a drug overdose. Conspiracy theories abound, as some believe Jones was murdered. Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards did not attend the funeral. In 2010, police said they would not reopen the case despite new evidence.

Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: edsullivan.com, wikianswers.com, rollingstone.com, Time and “Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell” by Robert Greenfield.

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