The Rolling Stones – 50 years of Hot Rocks

We celebrate the band's half century on stage with a look back at some of their classic performances decade by decade

1962 was a rather important year all told, and a heck of a lot happened during the course of those fateful twelve months: Spider-Man made his debut appearance in a comic book, the first James Bond film was released in cinemas, and an unknown blues band called the Rolling Stones played their first ever gig at the Marquee Club in London.


Yes, this year marks the original rock ‘n’ roll bad boys’ fiftieth anniversary, and they’re still touring the world and selling out arena shows today. They’ve weathered highs and lows, triumphs and scandals over their six decades together as a band but they’ve never faded from public view.

Over the course of their career they’ve sold an estimated 200m records and evolved from a bunch of shaggy haired blues fanatics into a group of rock ‘n’ roll archetypes. There is, quite frankly, no other band quite like the Stones in existence and, whatever your favourite era or incarnation of the group, every rock fan on earth owes them some degree of respect and admiration.

So, in that spirit, let’s take a look back through the mists of time and check out a highlight from each decade the band’s been around…


Unsurprisingly for a group named after a Muddy Waters tune, the Stones’ early career was marked by their fascination with blues records from the 1940s and ’50s. And while their record labels on both sides of the Atlantic baulked at their insistance on covering tunes written by old bluesmen from yesteryear, their fifth UK single, Little Red Rooster, a song originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, went to number one in the charts…


Having found massive worldwide success in the ’60s, the band relocated to the south of France at the start of the decade and formed their own record label, the imaginitively named Rolling Stones Records. Their first album of the decade, Sticky Fingers, went to number one on both sides of the Pond and its first single, Brown Sugar, is still a live staple to this day. Though thankfully Mick Jagger doesn’t perform it in this outfit any more:


Leaving the clubs of yesteryear behind, the band moved firmly into arena rock territory during the ’80s, kicking the decade off with the biggest US tour the group had staged to date. Their trek of the States, which lasted from September to December of ’81, was the highest grossing tour of that year and spawned a concert movie by Hal Ashby, which was released in cinemas in 1983 as Let’s Spend the Night Together. This version of Shattered is taken from the film:


After a seven year hiatus in the ’80s the band returned with a bang with their no-holds-barred Steel Wheels tour in 1989-90, which put them firmly back on the map. They subsequently spent the decade of grunge and Britpop in flurries of activity, touring the globe and releasing a slew of new albums and singles, including this one which starred Anglina Jolie in its video:


After the release of their 2002 greatest hits record 40 Licks, the Stones solidified their status as rock royalty and embarked on another series of mega-grossing tours around the globe. In 2006, filmmaker Martin Scorsese captured two performances by the group at New York’s Beacon Theatre, which resulted in the 2008 movie Shine a Light, from which this version of Satisfaction is taken:

In 2010 the Stones made rock history again, becoming the first band to have an album reissue go to number one in the charts with their re-release of Exile on Main Street, and since then the group’s been quietly enigmatic, hinting at the possibility of another tour or album to mark their anniversary.


But with a new logo unveiled this year and the world clamouring for more, it’s fair to assume that the Rolling Stones are going to enjoy a very happy fiftieth birthday indeed….