Stu....maybe not a core Stone (see yesterday's post), but most definitely a very important and influential person in the forming of this new band, The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards, once again:
I don't think the Stones would have actually coagulated without Ian Stewart pulling it together. He was the one that rented the first rehearsal rooms, told people to get there at a certain time; otherwise it was so nebulous. We didn't know shit from Shinola. It was his vision, the band, and basically he picked who was going to be in it. Far more than anybody actually realizes, he was the spark and the energy and the organization that actually kept it together in its early days, because there wasn't much money, but there was this idealistic hope that "we can bring the blues to England". "We have been chosen!". All that dopey sort of stuff.
And Stu had such incredible enthusiasm in that way. He'd stepped out - made a split with the people he'd played with. He took a leap in the dark there, really. It was against the grain. It alienated him from his cozy little club scene. Without Stu we'd have been lost. He'd been around the club scene a lot longer - we were just new kids on the block.
One of his first strategies was to wage guerilla war against the trad jazzers. That was a big, bitter cultural shift. The traditional jazz bands, aka Dixieland bands, semi-beatniks, were doing very, very well. "Midnight in Moscow", Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk, the whole goddam lot of them. They flooded the market. Very good players, Chris Barber and all of those cats.
They ran the scene. But they couldn't understand that things were moving and that they should incorporate something else into their music. How could we dislodge the Dixieland mafia? There seemed to be no chinks in their armor. It was Stu's idea that we played the interval at the Marquee and other venues, while Acker was having a beer. No money in it, but the interval was the thin end of the wedge. Stu figured out that strategy. He would just turn up and say, no money, but interval at the Marquee, or the Manor House.
Suddenly the interval became more interesting than the main event. You put the interval band on, and they're playing Jimmy Reed. Fifteen minutes. And it was really only a matter of months before that traditional-jazz monopoly faded away. There was bitter hatred of us. "I don't like your music. Why don't you play in ballrooms?". "You go! We're staying!". But we had no idea that the ground was shifting at the time. We weren't that arrogant. We were just happy to get a gig.
Source: Keith Richards, Life, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2010.