Sunday, July 31, 2011

Step down

Here's Bill Wyman's view on Stu having to step down:

Andrew Loog Oldham insisted that our pianist, Stu, should step down from the band line-up on stage: his tidy image, he said, was 'completely wrong' for the band. Stu was vital to the band's roots, musically and socially. But to Andrew, his looks - something the band had never cared about - were a major problem. Stu had a particular prominent facial characteristic: an attack of measles at the age of eight had left him with a calcium deficiency that caused his jaw to grow very large. At eighteen he had an operation to correct it, but it remained very visible and he was highly conscious of the abnormality.

Stu also felt that Andrew thought "my hair wasn't long enough. But there was a good reason for this. Bill and I were the only ones working and we just couldn't go around with long hair, or we would have got the sack". Andrew probably knew what a close unit we had become, and was aware of the shock waves his decree had caused, because he offered an olive branch: Stu should remain with the Stones, playing with us on recording sessions and also becoming our road manager.

Fortunately for us, Stu accepted the new role, although reluctantly, and he became incredibly important to us. Outwardly Stu took it well. Brian said to him: "Don't worry about it. You're part of the Stones. You'll always have a sixth of everything". Stu reflected later: "Brian told me all sorts of rubbish but I ignored it". His attitude to Brian, who had so willingly accepted Oldham's order, now became bitter and the tensions between group members began to increase.

Brian's relationship with Mick blossomed temporarily, but there was an underlying feeling that ruthless determination was replacing idealism. I thought that the 'sacking' was a strange way to repay Stu's incredible loyalism.

Source: Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to tell him?

For sure Ian Stewart wasn't out of the hearts of his bandmates after Andrew Loog Oldham decided to take Stu 'out of the picture', but what exactly was the band's reaction to his decision? Here's what James Phelge, flatmate at Edith Grove, noticed: I was in the lounge when Brian and Keith entered the room, both looking tense. Seeing their faces I asked Keith: "What's up?"

"We'll have to tell Stu he's out of the band", said Keith, who looked very unhappy. "Andrew doesn't think he can do anything with the way he looks", Keith said. I knew of course what that meant and visualised Stu's face with its prominent chin. Stu dressed differently as well. "What are you going to tell him", I asked. Surely they were not going to tell Stu that directly. It looked difficult. "We don't know yet", said Brian. "We don't know how he's going to take it, or how to tell him".

"Andrew said that Stu could stay on as road manager or something", said Keith. "It's just the image thing". "What's gonna happen if he doesn't?", I asked both of them. I couldn't see Stu taking to this idea and if he left they would lose his van too. "We'll have to see what he says", answered Brian, but he sounded as if his mind was made up - the Rolling Stones would go on without Stu.

"When are you going to tell him?" "We'll have to do it tomorrow before the gig, when everyone is here", said Keith. When I arrived back at the house on Friday evening Stu's van stood already parked outside in the kerb...when I made it upstairs and entered the front room the meeting had almost ended. Stu was standing over by Brian's bed and the other Stones were around the settee except for Brian who was by the radiogram and nearest to Stu.

They had told Stu, who had reluctantly accepted the job as road manager in order to stay with the band. He stood with his hands in his pockets and looked crestfallen at the turn of events. Everyone was trying hard to act cheerful - the boys knew how upset Stu would be feeling. Brian then began to promise things. "You'll still be able to play with us on occasions, we'll work something out, won't we boys?". The others made conciliatory noises in agreement. Then Brian told to Stu: "Don't worry about it, we'll see you all right, we'll make sure you get a sixth of everything".

With that he put his arm around Stu's shoulder and hugged him. Then Stu took his hands from his pockets and turned his palms limply outwards as a token of hopelessness. "I expected something like this might happen". He sounded upset and sounded so sadly. I looked at him and thought he was going to cry - if I had not been in the room I felt sure he would have done so.

Source: James Phelge, Phelge's Stones, Buncha Asshole Books, 1998.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Out...or in?

And then, not surprisingly, Andrew Loog Oldham called it a day: Ian Stewart had to leave the band. Here's Andrew once again: I met Mick and Brian, and I went for the home run: "Look, from the first time I saw you, I've felt...I can only see...five Rolling Stones". I told Brian and Mick that it was okay for Ian Stewart to appear on records and do live radio, but their ivory thumper could not be seen in photos or on TV.

I compounded the cruelty, adding that he was ugly and spoiled the 'look' of the group. Plus I was convinced that six members in a group was at least one too many. The public would not be able to remember, much less care, who the individual members of a six-piece band were. For me, six was not synonymous with success or stardom. Five was pushing it, six was impossible. People worked nino to five, and they couldn't be expected to remember more than four faces. 'This is entertainment, not a memory test', I concluded.

Hurt was not in my vocabulary, but perhaps it should have been. In the spirit of the day, everyone was superficially too busy and too young for slop. That was a luxury for our elders, and I had a job to do. And that meant including Stu, not excluding him altogether. Far from it: Stu had the van and he played great. I took him out of the picture, I didn't take him out of their hearts. That move would have had to have been the group's...

Source:  Andrew Loog Oldham, Stoned, Vintage, 2001.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

First photo session

A further sign of Stu's imminent departure from the Stones' basic band appeared when Andrew Loog Oldham got the band ready for their first photo shoot. Crispian Woodgate and Philip Townsend took the first set of serious photographs on the Thames Embankement. Oldham: I made my first visit to the infamously rank and scummy Edith Grove flat to prepare the band for the Embankement snaps.

I had met Woodgate and Townsend on earlier PR episodes. In 1963 it was traditional for pop groups to pose for publicity photographs frozen, bland and blank, all uniform, rigidly smiling in a soft-porn lit studio. Down at the Embankement I put the Stones, minus Ian Stewart, up against a grim-looking wall near the river. The group were 'sorry' to have forgotten their recently acquired apparel and wore their own clothes.

That look, that 'just out of bed and fuck you' look - the river, the bricks, the industrial location - was the beginning of the image that would define and divine them. Word got out: the results of the Embankment photo session were 'disgusting'. The Stones were unkempt, dirty and rude. I loved the photos, got the picture, the penny dropped.

Adapted from the following source: Andrew Loog Oldham, Stoned, Vintage, 2001.

The Rolling Stones, 1963. Left to right: Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Missing: Ian 'Stu' Stewart, sixth Stone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Come On

Once inside the Crawdaddy on April 28, 1963, it only took Andrew Loog Oldham and Eric Easton a few minutes to agree: this band really had something. At the end of the show Oldham approached Brian Jones. And while Giorgio Gomelsky was out of the country, Andrew Oldham and Eric Easton signed the Rolling Stones on May 1, 1963.

Popeye, William Bendix, Ray Andrew Oldham's opinion Ian Stewart could no longer be a front line member of the Stones, because his image was wrong and his looks were too different. The proceedings during the Stones' recording session at Olympic Sound Studios, London, on May 10, 1963 were a first but very clear sign Stu had to leave the band. During the more or less 'unproduced' sessions the band worked on a couple of songs, one being a rather obscure Chuck Berry tune, 'Come On', which had never been out in the UK.

Roger Savage, the studio's sound engineer: We set up and did four songs quite quickly. The main thing I remember was that Andrew Oldham told me to turn Ian Stewart's piano microphone off; he obviously didn't want him in the band because he didn't look the part. I was a bit embarrassed about doing it, but that was Andrew. When they came up the stairs to the control room to play back there was no piano! Nobody said anything. I felt a bit strange about doing that. Brian was the one who was the most vocal, he was the one who was suggesting things more than the others. The sound on 'Come On' was pretty conventional. It was a clean recording compared to the later recordings which they did at Regent Sound. Their own sound was more of a mess, looser, with less separation between the instruments.

Adapted from the following source: Andrew Loog Oldham, Stoned, Vintage, 2001.

Popeye, William Bendix, Ray Danton

At the end of April 1963 Record Mirror's Peter Jones tipped off young publicist Andrew Loog Oldham and his business partner Eric Easton as to what was happening in Richmond. Oldham and Easton then witnessed the Sunday April 28 performance at the Crawdaddy Club. Here's a piece of Andrew's experience that night:

Finally, in the dark and sweaty room, the Rollin' Stones, all six of them, took to the stage, while the nattering, half-pint-sodden, hundred-odd couples seemed ready for what they were about to receive and went apeshit. So did the group - they didn't seem to start, so much as carry on from a previous journey. I was already standing up, but what I saw, heard and felt stood me up again, as the remaining air left the room from the whoosh of hundreds of waving hands, dancing feet and heaving bodies, having sheer, sheer pleasure.

Thinking was suddenly not required, redundant. The room was as one, the music and audience had one particular place to go, a place I'd never been to but was happily being drawn to. The Rollin' Stones were six who became one. Three were backed against the wall: on the left, one Bill Wyman, on bass, to his right a large amp I'd only seen in ads and Charing Cross Road store windows. He stood like the statue who became a celebrity, concentrated, nonchalant, picking his instrument in an upright 'shhhoulder-arrrms' army-drill position, perhaps as a result of having seen service as Bill Perks for Queen and country. He was gaunt, pale, almost medieval in a way.

The drummer appeared to have beamed in, and it seemed you didn't so much hear him as feel him. I enjoyed the presence he brought to the group as well as his playing. Unlike the jacketless other five, he had the two top buttons of his jacket done up meticulously over a just as neat button-down shirt and tie, unaffected by the weather in the room. Body behind kit, head turned right in a distant, mannered disdain for the showing of hands waving at 78 rpm in front of him. He was with the Stones, but not of them, kinda blue, like he'd been transported for the evening from Ronnie Scott's or Birdland, where he'd been driving in another Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley time and space. He was the one and only, all-time man of his world, gentleman of time, space and the heart. His rare musical talent is an expression of his bigger talent for life: I'd just met Charlie Watts.

Backstage right was an odd man out. Sometimes on piano, sometimes maracas, he had a Popeye torso, a William Bendix jawline and a bad Ray Danton haircut: he cared for his 'little three-chord wonders' till the day he died. As time went by he would pay me this compliment: 'Andrew Oldham? I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire'. Yes, the real deal, sixth Stone, Ian Stewart.

Source: Andrew Loog Oldham, Stoned, Vintage, 2001.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Too black...turned down by the BBC

Brian Jones had written to the BBC in January 1963 to request an audition for BBC radio for the Jazz Club show, claiming that 'in view of the vast increase of interest in rhythm and blues in Britain an exceptionally good future has been predicted for us by many people'. The audition happened on April 23, 1963, a Tuesday, which was not a good day since Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Ian Stewart were working.

But Stu got the day off and the rhythm section was quickly gained from Cyril Davies' band, namely Carlo Little and Ricky Brown. The Stones recorded two tracks, Hank Snow's I'm Moving On, and the Leiber-Stoller composition I'm A Hog For You Baby. Bot tracks were considered too black and not commercial enough in content for the BCC production panel. The performance was not considered suitable for BBC purposes.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A film?

Crawdaddy owner Giorgio Gomelsky's ambitions were big and he attempted to self record a promotional film of the London rhythm and blues scene. The soundtrack was to include two Bo Diddley tunes, "Pretty Thing" and "It's All Right Babe", of course performed by the Rolling Stones. The tracks were recorded at R.G. Jones Studios, Morden, London, on April 20, 1963. The actual filming was done the next day at the Crawdaddy Club.

Peter Jones from Record Mirror attended the concert, where "Pretty Thing" and "Hey Crawdaddy" were stomping crowd pleasers used at the end of the show as a hypnotic climax. "It's All Right Babe" was used as background to the documentary. The film was never completed, and the recorded tracks were never released. At the end of April, Peter Jones tipped off Andrew Oldham, a young publicist, and show bizz veteran Eric Easton as to what was happening in Richmond. There was acrimony ahead, at least for Stu.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recording at IBC Studios

Early 1963 the Rolling Stones were hot and cooking, and it was time to book themselves into a studio. Glyn Johns, who worked as an engineer at IBC Recording Studios in Portland Place, London, offered the band to make a tape, so that he could get a record company interested in them. The band signed a six month deal with IBC to record free of charge. An acetate was made of the sessions and this was touted by IBC amongst the record companies. EMI were one of the companies to reject the tracks - sincerity was detected but the thin production quality and the lack of chart potential caused the end product to be suspect.

During a three-hour session on March 11, 1963, the band, produced by Glyn Johns, laid down five tracks, all of them distinctly rhythm and blues flavoured. Diddley Daddy is a Bo Diddley tune and is performed in true R&B style. The song, although rough in texture, is guided by Mick Jagger's roots vocals and features two instrumental breaks: the first by Brian Jones on the harmonica and the second by Ian Stewart tinkering on the ivories to the fade out.

Road Runner, another well-known Diddley song, was next on the list for the Stones' treatment and is played in a hard-rocking, non-compromising style. The guitar is the main instrument, supported by harmonica and Stu on piano. The Stones' Bright Lights, Big City is an impressive version of Jimmy Reed's original. The song epitomised a young Stones sound - Mick Jagger performing in a relaxed manner while Ian Stewart provided an excellent piano background.

Willie Dixon's I Want To Be Loved, an authentic rhythm and blues standard, was later to be re-recorded for the b-side of the first Stones single, Come On. This early version is a leisurely mix and again instrumentally Ian Stewart and Brian Jones are prominently featured. Jimmy Reed's Honey What's Wrong, a meandering-type song, wraps up the Stones' first professional recording session. Regrettably the mix of pop vocals with R&B lead guitar and harmonica did not quite mix.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hey Crawdaddy! (2)

Here's just a little bit more on the Stones' crucial residency at Giorgio Gomelsky's Crawdaddy Club, this time from the inside. Listen to Bill Wyman, Giorgio Gomelsky, Stu and Charlie Watts. Bill Wyman: We weren't a pop band, we just got together and played the blues music we liked to play. And if we could play in front of a few people who liked it - well that was the ultimate at that time. We didn't even face the audience. We used to take stools with us, these old rusty metal stools, and we'd sit on these and never face the audience, let alone play it. We used the harmonica a lot back then - in a different way than the Beatles did on ""Love Me Do" - and maracas, and tambourines, and that Bo Diddley jungle rhythm format. We tried to get that really earthy thing because we liked it. It wasn't fake. It wasn't pseudo. It was really down to earth, and very, very exiting.

Giorgio Gomelsky: the band's manager at the time: The Stones played their shit. Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, things that weren't too difficult. But they were playing with guts and conviction. They were playing blues, but they weren't an academic blues band. The Rolling Stones were more like a rebellion. It was a ritual thing, and the Stones were nothing but ritual, really. In the end, at the Crawdaddy Club, people just went berserk.

Ian Stewart: The Station Hotel was the most important thing 'cause it was at the Crawdaddy that you really started seeing exitement. It was at Richmond that they finally started to get up off their backsides and move; within two months they were swinging off the rafters. But the Station Hotel lasted about ten weeks, because they wanted to pull the place down, and it's still standing there yet. It had a very low ceiling, with girders, so of course they're leaping about among the girders, they're goin' barmy.

CharlieWatts: At Richmond we became sort of a cult, in a way. Not because of us, it just happened. There were so many people, and because there was no room to dance they used to invent ridiculous dances. There was no room for Mick to dance onstage and he used to just wiggle his arse, which sort of made...I don't know, was lovely. I mean the Crawdaddy was like - it was nice to have a dance. It was nice to be there, and the Crawdaddy was always like that. That was really the best time for response of them all. I mean, it got a bit wearing, if you did the same set, and you knew at a certain time everything would explode. And sure enough it always did, and it always ended up in an absolute gyrating riot.

Source: Ian McPherson's wonderful website,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hey Crawdaddy!

Giorgio Gomelsky, an experimental film-maker who was full of enthusiasm for musical adventure and possessed a close affinity with jazz and the blues, by early 1963 was running his own club in the rear room at the Station Hotel, Richmond. Brian Jones met Gomelsky at a crucial time in the Stones's evolution. Gomelsky came to see the band at the Red Lion pub on February 6, 1963, and liked what they were doing. As soon as one of his own acts goofed, he said, he would bring the Rolling Stones into one of his promotions.

And then one day Giorgio had exiting news for the band: the Dave Hunt R&B band (featuring Ray Davies, later to lead the Kinks) had given up their Sunday residency at the Station Hotel, and the Rolling Stones could take over. And so from February 24 until June 16, 1963 the band had a solid residency at one of London's hottest venues: the Crawdaddy Club (named after the Bo Diddley tune "Doin' The Crawdaddy") at the Station Hotel, Richmond.

Ian McLagan, keyboard player of Small Faces and Faces fame, attended some of the gigs, and here's what he found: When I walked along from Richmond Green to the back door of the pub, all I could hear was a booming bass, chanking rhythm guitars and a wailing harp above it all. The band were rocking out on a Jimmy Reed tune and it sounded so good I couldn't believe my ears. Finally we squeezed our way in and fuck me, they're not old black guys at all, they're white, young, and they're dynamite! Instantly I'm a Rolling Stones fan. In the coming weeks I never miss a Sunday night at the Crawdaddy.

Brian Jones and Keith Richards sat on stools either side of Mick Jagger, who'd wail over our heads while Keith spat out licks, weaving in and out of Brian's slide guitar lines. Ian Stewart, or 'Stu' as he was known, was on the piano and was pretty inaudible during most of it, but when things quietened down you could just hear his trills and bluesy licks, giving it all a genuine Chicago feel. Bill Wyman's bizarre, home-made bass throbbed, boomed and echoed of the ceiling, along with Charlie Watts' steam-train drumming.

Adapted from the following sources:
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.
Ian McLagan, All The Rage, Pan Books, 1998.

Fact sheet: October-December 1962

October-December, 1962: The Rolling Stones perform concerts at the Ealing Jazz Club, the Red Lion pub, the William Morris Hall, Studio 51, Sandover Hall (Richmond), and other venues in and around London.
Line-up: Mick Jagger (voc)/Brian Jones (gtr)/Keith Richards (gtr)/Ian Stewart (p).
Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts did not become regular band members until early February 1963, although Bill played some gigs in the second half of December. The following musicians filled the spots: Dick Taylor (bass)/Ricky Brown (bass)/Colin Golding (bass)/Tony Chapman (dr)/Carlo Little (dr)/Steve Harris (dr)/Colin Folwell (dr).

Colin Golding, bass player with the Presidents, remembers it all:
Apart from the Presidents, I had been filling-in as a stand-in bass player with the Rolling Stones. The Stones, at that time, comprised Mick, Keith, Brian Jones, a drummer called Tony Chapman, pianist Ian Stewart, and, from time to time, me. We were lucky if the audiences got into double figures. I also played with some of Glyn Johns' scratch bands that he cobbled together to do posh Kingswood parties which also included Ian Stewart and Jimmy Page, wearing his father's dinner suit (source:

....and a drummer

Right from the start, Spring 1962, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Ian Stewart all were into Charlie Watts, Blues Incorporated's drummer. Keith Richards: "God, we'd love that Charlie Watts if we could afford him" - because we all thought Charlie Watts was a god-given drummer - and Stu put the feelers out. And Charlie said I'd love any gigs I can get, but I need money to hump these drums on the tube. He said if you can come back to me and say you've got a couple of solid gigs a week, I'm in".

At the end of 1962, Charlie was finding that playing so regularly with Blues Incorporated was affecting his day job and so he left and started to play occasionally with Brian Knight's Blues By Six. Knowing that Charlie was on the side-lines, The Rolling Stones sacked Tony Chapman, early in January 1963. And so at the end of January 1963 the line-up of the Rolling Stones was established. Charlie Watts was in.

Oh, one more thing, at a gig in January, Mick Jagger advertised to the crowd that there was a spare bed going at Edith Grove for anyone willing to rent. After the band were packing up, James Phelge agreed to move in. And so the scene was set for the greatest motion adventure for which anyone could care to wish or dream. The constellation would take many shapes and images over the years.

Keith Richards: the turning point was our getting a regular gig at the Crawdaddy Club, in Richmond, from which everything sprinkled out. Fame in six weeks. To me, Charlie Watts was the essence of the whole thing. And that went back to Ian Stewart - "We have to have Charlie Watts" - and all the skullduggery that went down in order to get Charlie. We starved ourselves to pay for him!

Charlie Watts has always been the bed I lie on musically, but like Stu Charlie had come to rhythm and blues because of its jazz connection. Back then I used to rag Stu and Charlie wicked about jazz. We were supposed to be getting the blues down, and sometimes I'd catch Stu and Charlie listening to jazz on the sly.
"Stop that shit!" I was just trying to beak their habits, trying to put a band together, for Christ's sake. "You've got to listen to blues. You've got to listen to fucking Muddy". I wouldn't even let them listen to Armstrong, and I love Armstrong".

Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.
Keith Richards, Life, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010.

Note: to put things in place, despite Keith's early attempts both Stu and Charlie never stopped listening to (and practicing of) jazz related music...thank god!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Finding a bass player...

Late 1962 life in Edith Grove went on much the same. Money and food were both in short supply, but Mick, Brian and Keith were long on dreams. The lack of gigs was, according to Stu, not really to do with their ability. 'We had a job getting gigs, because there was this sort of Mafia thing. Traditional jazz had died and left a vacuum. Harold Pendleton, owner of the Marquee, a guy called Bill Carey and Alexis Korner tried to take over the thythm and blues scene, and keep it very much a jazz thing. I was the only one working at this time. When I went off to work for ICI as a clerk, the Stones sat around all day rehearsing and trying to get bookings. The boys frequented the Earls Court Wimpy Bar using luncheon vouchers I fiddled from work'.

Sometime in November 1962, the Rolling Stones played the Red Lion pub in Sutton, Surrey for the first time. Colin Folwell, a friend of Stu's, played bass guitar, but the Stones needed a regular bass player. Tony Chapman suggested Bill Wyman, his former bandmate in the Cliftons, to go to the Red Lion to meet one of the members of the Stones. Glyn Johns and the Presidents were headlining the evening, and during the interval Bill Wyman was introduced to Ian Stewart, who suggested that Bill would attent the band's next rehearsal.

That Friday, Bill went with Tony Chapman to the Wetherby Arms pub in Chelsea, where they entered through a side door into the backroom. He met Stu again and Mick, who was quite friendly. Brian and Keith were very cool and distant, showing little interest in Wyman. 'There's a certain amount of truth in the old story about Bill being taken on because he had a few amplifiers', admitted Stu, 'but he was very good. He was in quite a successful band. Actually, he was very strange and didn't know a lot about the blues, but he liked the idea of it'.

Bill then decided to throw in his lot with the Rolling Stones. It meant the end of The Cliftons but something told him that the Stones were a better bet. The next day, December 14, 1962, the Stones played their very first gig with a regular bass player, at the Ricky Tick Club in the Star and Garter Hotel, Windsor. Bill Wyman was in, although he didn't become a permanent member of the band until February 1963.

Adapted from: Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2002.

Note: Glyn Johns, who engineered a lot of the Stones' music, was a long time friend of Stu's, and he even mixed Ben Waters' 2011 tribute album Boogie 4 Stu. From the liner notes to that album: that I had a full-on album with some of the best musicians in the world on it, and I thought that I didn't just want to mix it myself and stick it out, so I went straight to the top and asked Glyn Johns if he would be up for mixing it. Glyn said that he wouldn't miss it for the world and he wouldn't take a penny for doing it. He had shared a house with Stu and it was important for him to do it. Glyn was fantastic and made the album sound big and rich, he was really important to this CD!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Edith Grove

In August 1962 Mick Jagger found a flat at 102 Edith Grove, Chelsea, and he and Brian Jones moved in immediately. A short time later, Keith Richards moved into Edith Grove with them. Once, the three of them were chatting to the background of a Muddy Waters album, and inevitably the talk went to their prospects of success. They wondered if they should get 'proper jobs'. They decided to give it a year, in which they would have at least soaked up the music.

In the meantime, Ian Stewart kept his day job as a shipping clerk at ICI, while at night he drove the band's gear around in his big old pre-war Rover, with the drums in the backseat and the amps in the boot. Stu regarded the other Stones' beatnik lifestyle as horrific, but as a good pianist with terrific jazz knowledge, he could hear some potential:

"The great thing was Keith and Brian living in the Edith Grove flat together, with no money and nothing to do but play. They really got off on this two-guitar player thing. And they pulled it off really well. All those old records usually featured two guitar players. So they absorbed a lot. They were young enough to be influenced in the heart rather than in the head. By 1963, having lived together and done nothing else than listen to their records and tapes and play together, Brian and Keith had this guitar thing like you wouldn't believe. There was never any suggestion of a lead and a rhythm guitar player. They were two guitar players that were like somebody's right and left hand".

Adapted from the following sources:
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.
Ian McPherson,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Very first recordings

Late August 1962, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones moved into a flat at 102 Edith Grove, Chelsea (more on that later on). In August-September the Rolling Stones played only a couple of gigs, but somehow they managed to pay for an hour's studio time at Curly Clayton's Sound Studio near Arsenal football ground, in Highbury, north London. Jazz guitarist Curly Clayton produced the demo sessions, held on October 27, 1962. Three tracks were recorded: Muddy Waters' "Soon Forgotten" (written by James Oden), Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", and "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover", a Willie Dixon song made into a hit by Bo Diddley.

The tracks were recorded by a Stones line-up which included Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Ian Stewart and Tony Chapman. No bass guitar, because Dick Taylor (who formed the Pretty Things later on) had had enough, and went back to college. The spartan studio facilities (remember, it was only 1962!) provided just one microphone in the middle of a small room; the band had to balance the sound by moving the instruments around. Mick Jagger asked for the piano to be 'turned up', but it could not be moved; it was nailed to the wall, and Stu's playing could hardly be heard.

A snippet of "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" was broadcast on Simon Bates' BBC Radio One programme when he interviewed an enthusiast who in April 1988 had purchased an acetate of these three historic recordings. Mick Jagger's enunciation was distinctly non-British and leered in true Willie Dixon style. His vocals were the most distinctive instrument on the tape.

The recordings were sent to Neville Skrimshire, a jazz guitarist who also worked at EMI Records, who rejected them. Tony Chapman then sent the tape to someone he knew at Decca, who responded: "It's a great band, but you'll never get anywhere with that singer".

Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Red Cherry Books, 2002.
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.

Fact sheet: the 1962 build up

Right after their first Marquee gig in July 1962, the Rolling Stones quickly built up a reputation as an exiting live band. But before we move on further on that road, here's a little fact sheet on what happened in the months before.

April-June, 1962: The embryonic Rolling Stones rehearse in different line-ups in clubs and pubs around London. The musicians involved included: Mick Jagger (voc)/Andy Wren (voc)/Brian Knight (voc, harm)/Brian Jones (gtr)/Keith Richards (gtr)/Geoff Bradford (gtr)/Ian Stewart (p)/Cyril Davies (harm)/Dick Taylor (bass)/Dick Hatrell (bass)/Charlie Watts (dr)/Tony Chapman (dr)/Mick Avory (dr).

July-October, 1962: The Rolling Stones (at that time also called the Rollin' Stones or even Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones) perform at the Marquee International Jazz Club, the Ealing Jazz Club, and other venues in and around London. Line-up: Mick Jagger (voc)/Brian Jones (gtr)/Keith Richards (gtr)/Ian Stewart (p).
Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts did not become regular members of the band until early February 1963. The following musicians filled the spots: Dick Taylor (bass)/Ricky Brown (bass)/Colin Golding (bass)/Tony Chapman (dr)/Carlo Little (dr)/Steve Harris (dr)/Colin Folwell (dr).

For those of you who would like to dig deeper into the development of a whole new musical scene in and around London in the early sixties, here's an article on British rhythm & blues.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Core Stone

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A gig!

Exactly 49 years ago the Rolling Stones, billed as Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones, performed for the first time ever, at the Marquee International Jazz Club, London. Keith Richards:

"A gig! Alexis Korner's band was booked to do a BBC live broadcast on July 12, 1962, and he'd asked us if we'd fill in for him at the Marquee. The drummer that night was Mick Avory - not Tony Chapman, as history has mysteriously handed it down - and Dick Taylor on the bass. The core Stones, Mick, Brian and I, played our set list: "Dust My Broom", "Baby What's Wrong?", "Doing The Crawdaddy", "Confessin' The Blues", "Got My Mojo Working".

You're sitting with some guys, and you're playing and you go, "Ooh, yeah!". That feeling is worth more than anything. There's a certain moment when you realize that you've actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You're elevated because you're with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you've got wings. You know you've been somewhere most people will never get; you 've been to a special place. And then you want to keep going back and landing again, and when you land you get busted. But you always want to go back there. It's flying without a license".

Source: Keith Richards, Life, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2010.

In this little exerpt from his autobio, Keith names all musicians who performed at the Marquee that night, exept for one...Ian Stewart. Keith not even mentions Stu as a core Stone...of course he knows better, which he shows a little bit further on in the book. To be continued.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones

And then there were five...although no drummer. But after Brian Jones placed an advertisement in the music magazine Melody Maker, within days Tony Chapman (who at the time played with Bill Wyman's band The Cliftons) and Mick Avory (who would later join The Kinks) showed up at the Bricklayer's Arms for auditions. And although Ian Stewart held the view that Chapman wasn't a good drummer, the latter kept rehearsing with the yet unnamed band, be it not on a permanent basis. Rehearsals then continued at the Wetherby Arms, Chelsea.

Quite unexpectedly, things went fast when on June 30, 1962 another music magazine, Disc, wrote that Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated was to appear at the BBC programme Jazz Club on July 12. A week later Disc added that owing to the Jazz Club broadcast Korner's band would not be featured in their weekly Thursday session at the Marquee International Jazz Club that night, and that their place would be taken by a new rhythm and blues group, Mick Jagger and the Rollin' Stones.

Rollin' Stones? As soon as he learnt of the upcoming Marquee gig, Brian Jones finally named the band: the Rollin' Stones, after Muddy Waters' song "Rollin' Stone". So if we look back at it now the birthdate of the Rolling Stones, as we've known them ever since, can be placed somewhere between late June and the early days of July 1962. Stu, in the meantime, thought the new band's name was a terrible name. It sounded, he argued, like the name of an Irish show band, 'or something that ought to be playing at the Savoy'.

Adapted from the following sources:
Massimo Bonanno, Aftermath, 2007.
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bricklayer's Arms (2)

Let's listen to Keith Richards for a little bit longer:

So he's playin' this Pinetop and St. Louis Jimmy shit and I'm following this piano walkin' and there is Stu in little leather shorts. He's playin' this shit, but obviously he's not particularly thinkin' about it - he's staring intently out of the window and I don't know...I'm trying to figure out what the fuck it is. I didn't want to disturb him 'cause he's playing this great shit and I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing there because I already know that I'm the Chuck Berry player and he don't think shit of me. I know this. I mean I've already got the vibes from other guys that I'm some rock 'n' roller and I'm not a bluesman. I should be working the ballrooms.

It's touch and go...and I realize that he is staring at his bicycle which is propped up against the wall across the street so that nobody steals it. He could do that. He could play security and incredible boogie woogie at the same time. I still haven't said anything; I just slipped into the room and he doesn't know I'm there, I got the guitar under the arm, still watching him, I don't want to break his music, and I hear him go, "Cor, look at that". I crane my neck a bit around behind him and here's one of the strippers walking down the road, and he hadn't dropped a beat.

I'd just seen him a couple of times with Korner, he would come up and do a couple of numbers, but to me this guy is The Boss. I'm just a kid like crawling in, and I don't even have the balls to cough, or go back out and knock. So I'm just standing there for five or ten minutes, and every now and again he would go, "Oh. look at that". Immediately I'm in love with this guy and - I'm still not sure whether to interrupt him, because I've already found out more about him, in just a few minutes...I mean now I've really fucked up because I've got to get out of here and now I'm like spying. It's like catching some guy jerking off. Finally he stopped and turned and said, "Oh, you're the Chuck Berry artist". I knew I was under heavy penalties.

Source: Stanley Booth, Keith: Till I Roll Over Dead, Headline Book Publishing, London, 1994.

Bricklayer's Arms

In his 2010 autobiography, Keith Richards states that he's still working for Ian Stewart, because to him the Rolling Stones are Stu's band. Here's how it all started, from Keith's perspective:

So, Mick and I had been working with Dick Taylor, backroom stuff, and it's gettin' better. Then we go down to meet Alexis, meet Brian and Stu, and I have the feeling I am grudgingly invited to this rehearsal, for a possible alternative - other band to Alexis and Cyril's setup.

The first rehearsal fot the Stones, or what turned out to be the Stones was at a place called the Bricklayer's Arms, just of Wardour Street in London. It was a pretty exotic area for me at the time. I mean, these chicks walking by in full makep with just a bra on, carryin' a suitcase. It took me a while to figure it out, but they're strippers going from one club to another. They just crisscross, do like half an hour here and another half hour down the street, so they don't bother to dress, just as long as they don't get arrested for indecent exposure, they're just rushing out in their dressing gowns with a suitcase and a wig and the makeup. Maybe it looks great inside of the club but outside not quite so good, these weird masked people coming at you.

I got my guitar in a little plastic case, and I go upstairs and say - some old barmaid was there, typical English platinum blonde with a cigarette, her lipstick smeared - "We're supposed to have a room to rehearse in here". "Upstairs, second floor". I tramp up there and I hear this piano playing, so I follow that. I walk in, and there's Stu sitting there and the piano is against the window and he is playing beautifully as Stu always did when he thought nobody was listening. That's the area where he really breaks out. To hear Stu play under observation is only half of what he is capable of. He was never a showman. It locks him up, to have people watch him, he is his own audience.

Source: Stanley Booth, Keith: Till I Roll Over Dead, Headline Book Publishing, 1994.

First forming of a band

By June 1962, Mick Jagger (born Michael Philip Jagger on July 26, 1943, Dartford), who had been singing with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated for a couple of months quit Korner and joined Brian Jones' and Stu's basic band. Mick and his childhood friend Keith Richards (born December 18, 1943, Dartford) had met Brian when he and Paul Pond were playing Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" with Korner's band at the Ealing Club.

Mick quickly brought in Keith and another Dartford friend, Dick Taylor, and Brian reshuffled the band to include them. The newly formed band began rehearsing every Wednesday and Friday at the Bricklayer’s Arms pub in Soho. Brian and Stu’s acceptance of Keith Richards and the Chuck Berry songs he wanted to play coincided with the departure of blues purists Geoff Bradford and Brian Knight, who had no tolerance for Berry and the likes. Keith Richards about the topic:

Also hanging around there at this time is another load of cats. Brian Knight, who is a lovely bloke, like Gene Vincent with red hair, he loved the blues, he’s so London - with Geoff Bradford , finger picker on the electric guitar, astounding. Brian knows these cats and Stu knows them and they are talking about putting a band together and then Mick and I get up to play at Alexis’ club, and they go Ohh…Nobody’s too sure about me, I’m too rock ‘n ‘roll, I’m not pure enough. Also, I’m being very flash with it. At that time in London you only had to play one Chuck Berry number for the whole club to divide into sides as to whether Chuck Berry was either rock ‘n’ roll or rhythm & blues. Stupid question, but bless their hearts, people were into it.

Source: Stanley Booth, Keith: Till I Roll Over Dead, Headline Book Publishing, London, 1994.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Korner and Jones

Around 1961, Brian Jones (born as Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones on February 28, 1942 in Cheltenham) moved from Cheltenham to London, with plans to form his own rhythm & blues band. Back in 1961 R&B was not common at all in London or the UK, but pioneer Alexis Korner had his band (Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated) playing the Ealing Jazz Club with various people joining him on stage.

From March 1962 on, Brian Jones sat in with Korner’s Blues Incorporated on a regular basis. A major turning point came in May 1962 when Brian put an advertisement in Jazz News (a Soho club information sheet) for people interested in forming an R&B band with him. Ian Stewart turned out to be the first person to answer it. From that moment on things went fast, as Bill Wyman describes:

Stu had been born in Scotland into a middle-class family which had moved south to Cheam, Surrey, when he was a baby. In September 1956 he had been called up for National Service, but he was discharged for health reasons after a week or so and began working at the head office of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), as a shipping clerk in their export sales department in London.

Stu said: ‘Brian wanted to form an R&B group. I went and saw him. He was a strange character, but was very knowledgeable. He’d done his homework and was a little like Ken Colyer, deadly serious about the whole thing. He wanted to play Muddy Waters, Blind Boy Fuller and stuff by Jimmy Reed - whom I’d never heard of. He couldn’t find the people he wanted because not many people had heard that Chess and Vee Jay stuff. Then Howlin’ Wolf’s record “Smokestack Lightning” came out in London, and I think that was the style he was really trying to achieve.

Brian started rehearsals at the White Bear pub in Leicester Square. The first rehearsal consisted of a friend of Charlie Watts called Andy Wren (Screaming Lord Sutch’s piano player) who wanted to sing, another piano player who was playing like Count Basie and wasn’t what Brian wanted and Brian on regular and slide guitar.

When Stu returned from a holiday in Scotland, he discovered that Brian had been rehearsing two or three times a week. He joined him for a few sessions. They continued rehearsing in the Bricklayer’s Arms in Lisle Street, Soho. Alexis Korner put Brian in touch with various guitarists and singers and he and Stu spent weeks experimenting with them until they saw a semblance of a group emerging.

Stu said: ‘Then Geoff Bradford came round. He’d worked with Cyril Davies and was into ethnic blues, the sounds of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Elmore James. Geoff was a really good guitar player, deadly serious, and he drew very distinct lines between what he’d play and what he wouldn’t. His mate, Brian Knight, came round, too - a good harmonica player who later became quite a good guitarist.”

Source: Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Book, London, 1991.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stu's musical influences

And here are a few words from Ian Stewart himself, taken from his liner notes to the 1979 album "Rocket 88" (more on that album later on):

My first love, musically speaking, was the sound of boogie woogie piano. Although I first heard it practiced on commercial records by the white swing bands of the Forties, I soon discovered Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson; and to this day I still find Ammons' Blue Note recordings and the Ammons/Johnson duets very moving. From that point it was a natural progression to the records of Ammons and Johnson  backing Joe Turner, Sippie Wallace and others; The Bluebird label recordings of Bob Call and Big Maceo (the latter in my opinion the only player to rank with Ammons); Milt Buckner with the unbelievable Lionel Hampton (in the late Forties); the bands of New Orleans pianists Fats Domino and Amos Milburn; Sammy Price backing blues and gospel artists for U.S. Decca; and the great R&B artists of the Fifties, such as Wynonie Harris and Louis Jordan - in whose bands the pianos played eight to the bar and the saxes ruled.

I dreamt of one day organizing a band with these influences. When I first met Brian Jones in 1962, he said that he wanted to form a rhythm & blues band; and I had hoped that he had a Wynonie Harris sort of thing in mind. I was a little disappointed at the time that his idea of R&B was Slim Harpo, Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters - styles that did not always leave too much space for pianos and tenor saxes.

The idea of a boogie woogie band was forgotten until 1978, when some of England's best musicians celebrated the 50th anniversary of boogie woogie, a term which had first appeared on a record label in 1928 ("Pinetop's Boogie Woogie"). The first concert was largely instrumental, but was successful; and the formula was repeated, while giving more freedom to the horns and introducing vocals from Alexis Korner - and later from Danny Adler and others. Working by necessity from a pool of musicians, we arrived at Rocket 88, a band with the best horn players in Europe, a very powerful rhythm section, and the only boogie woogie piano team in the world.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Black to white

Just a little bit more on Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and John Hammond especially, before we move on to Stu's introduction into the early British blues scene. One of the Stones' greatest achievements is that they brought authentic black American music under the attention of a white British and European audience. But before the Rolling Stones, and other British bands of course, could even do that, black American music itself had to find (or even fight) its way into a mainly white US establishment. And that's where John Hammond comes in, as Elijah Wald (in his wonderful book on blues legend Robert Johnson) recalls:

The key moment in the transformation of black vernacular music into an important white taste came on December 23, 1938, with the From Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall. Here, for the first time, white New York society heard a broad range of African-American music presented as art rather than simply entertainment. John Hammond, who organized the program, was a wealthy connoisseur who is justly famous for his work on behalf of such artists as Teddy Wilson, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and many others.

It was through his influence at Columbia Records that Bessie Smith was able to make her last recordings, after her glory days were past, and he would go on to sponsor the varied talents of Charlie Christian, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. He conceived of From Spirituals to Swing as a capsule history of African-American music, and began the evening by playing some field recordings of traditional African chants. Then came the Count Basie band, the boogie woogie pianists Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, and Pete Johnson with Joe Turner, gospel from sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mitchell's Christian Singers, New Orleans jazz fronted by a group fronted by Sidney Bechet, stride piano by James P. Johnson, a harmonica instrumental from Sonny Terry, and blues from Big Bill Broonzy

Source: Elijah Wald, Escaping The Delta, HarperCollins books, 2004.

At the time, Ian Stewart won't have been aware of all this (as he was only six months old!), but somehow somewhere his appreciation of black American music in general, and of course boogie woogie piano in particular, found its place into the early music of the Rolling Stones.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Boogie woogie (2)

Both Albert Ammons' signature tune 'Boogie Woogie Stomp' and Pete Johnson's 'Roll 'Em Pete' are present on the Ben Waters 2011 tribute album 'Boogie 4 Stu'. Not very much has been written about this album, but here's a review that says it all:

Boogie woogie

I don't know where and when he picked it up, but Ian Stewart was a pianist who specialized in boogie woogie from the 1930s and '40s. Boogie woogie is a term used for the start of the development of rhythm and blues (and eventually rock & roll) out of swing music. Boogie woogie is typically 12-bar blues with a consistent bass pattern that is played with the left hand, while the right hand carries the melody. Pianists like Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons had a big influence on Stu, who helped forge the Stones' initial style and sound.

Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith's 'Pinetop's Boogie Woogie' is considered one of the most important boogie woogie pieces to emerge from the late 1920s, and it has influenced every boogie pianist who has followed since.

In his 'Blues Odyssey' book Bill Wyman describes the scene of the time:

When 'Pinetop' moved to Chicago in late 1928, he lived in an apartment house with Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, both of whom would redefine boogie woogie in the mid-1930s. Lewis did record for Paramount in December 1927, but inexplicably they did not release his recording of 'Honky Tonk Train Blues' until 1929. Recession-hit America was not receptive, and it was almost six years before Lewis got another shot at stardom. He recorded 'Honky Tonk Train Blues' again in 1935; it is actually very similar to 'Pinetop's Boogie Woogie', perhaps because the two men had regularly jammed together.

In the second half of the 1930s Lewis, Albert Ammons, and Pete Johnson became the rage. Ammons first recorded in January 1936 with his Rhythm Kings. Pete Johnson's first sides were made for the Library of Congress, along with Ammons and Lewis, in December 1938. This was five days after the three pianists had played together at John Hammond's ground breaking From Spiritual to Swing concerts in New York City's Carnegie Hall. On stage the three boogie masters performed 'Cavalcade Of Boogie' together, and quickly brought people out of their seats.

It was the beginning of boogie woogie's golden era, which lasted into the early 1940s. For the next three years, all three men recorded regularly, sometimes together. Ammons' signature piece was 'Boogie Woogie Stomp', while Pete's was 'Roll 'Em Pete'.

Source: Bill Wyman, Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2001.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Piano and banjo

"...and he played piano and banjo in various outfits". That's where the story ended yesterday, and regrettably there's not so very much to add to it. The earliest, previously-unpublished pictures of Ian Stewart as a young musician, unearthed by William Nash for his book Stu (I haven't seen them yet!) show him looking pretty cool behind shades, strumming a banjo in a ribbed sweatshirt and slacks. The solid skin is determinedly Scottish.

Jack Bruce, Cream's bass-playing powerhouse from Pollock, Glasgow, says: "Stu should have been the lead singer of the Stones. And playing the banjo, I mean, what can be hipper than that?". Bruce may be biased. As a teenager, he also played boogie-woogie piano as a means of attracting girls: "That was what you had to do if you were a short Scot".

Source: Scotland On Sunday, April 16, 2004.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Early years

Not very much has been written about the early years of Stu's life. Just like Ian's cousin Harry Watson, who lives in Edinburgh, I would be delighted to hear from people in the East Neuk and in Sutton, Surrey, who could shed some light on Ian's childhood and of course his pre-Stones life. Here's what Bill Wyman, original bass player with the Rolling Stones, has to say about Stu's early years:

Ian's mother was Annie Black, whose family owned a farm called Kirklatch in Pittenweem, East Neuk, Fife. Annie married an architect named John Stewart and moved to Sutton in Surrey, which was where Ian was conceived. She was at the farm when Stu was born on 18 July, 1938 and then the family returned to Sutton. Kirklatch Farm was eventually taken over by Annie's sister and husband.

John Stewart spent his war years in the army, using his architectual skills to design barracks. It wasn't until well after the war ended, some 12 years after Ian's birth, that the couple went on to have their second son, Roy.

Ian Stewart attended Glaisdale Preparatory School in Cheam, Surrey, and then Tiffin's Grammar School in Kingston-upon-Thames. He was a bright pupil, doing well at maths, and was also good at sports. He played rugby, lifted weights and was a keen golfer, like his mum. But he was also very shy and had an inferiority complex about the prominence of his jaw.

His dad also had a big jaw and it was thought that Stu's grew following a childhood bout of measles. At around 16, he had a revolutionary operation to try to reduce his jaw size, which meant he was clamped for about six months. His speech was not confident and he tended to be a bit introverted. Nevertheless he was popular at school and not afraid to speak his mind. He gained several O-levels from Tiffin's.

Starting the piano early, somewhere between the ages of five and seven, music remained a real love for Stu. Sutton had a number of amateur bands and he played piano and banjo in various outfits.

Source: Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 2002.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Ian Andrew Robert Stewart was born July 18, 1938 at his mother's family farm (Kirklatch) in Pittenweem, East Neuk, Fife, Scotland ( His father, John Stewart, an architect, and mother, Annie Black, were Scots who were required - because of John's work for the Army - to live in Surrey, England, but they were so determined that Ian should be able to call himself 100% Scottish that Annie traveled north for the birth.

“Stu himself was immensely proud of his roots,” says William Nash, editor of Stu, a privately published tribute to Ian Stewart ( He’s collected masses of anecdotes from those who knew him, among those his widow Cynthia Dilane, who reveals that as a boy he spent all his holidays on the farm helping his uncle Jack. “The interesting thing was that in the parlour, as they called it, the front room, which was very rarely ever used, there was an old piano".

Nash also tracks down Stewart’s cousin Marianne Meldrum, who recalls him “thumping away” on a tune he’d picked up in an instant. “I always used to tell him to stop making that terrible noise. I remember our grandmother saying: ‘Ian will never be a musician. Fetch me some cotton wool for my ears".

Source: Scotland On Sunday, April 16, 2004.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Key to the highway

When Ian Stewart died (December 12, 1985) the Rolling Stones as a band were in big trouble. Relationships within the band, especially between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, were at an all-time low. But despite that fact the band decided to put an uncredited eleventh track on their upcoming 'Dirty Work' album, as a tribute to Stu. Listen to some 30 seconds of real boogie-woogie piano, a touching salute to one of the band's founding members. In the liner notes to the album it read: "Thanks Stu for 25 years of boogie-woogie".

Back to the beginning

Not fade away: the forgotten Fife lad who founded the Stones

He was born in a traditional Scottish village where his ancestors had fished the North Sea for generations. His grandfather chewed tobacco and sailed a boat called the Fisher Lassie out of the East Neuk of Fife.
But Ian Stewart's fate was to be quite different after a move to London led him to Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards where they jointly founded the Rolling Stones.
After his death in 1985, the band's remaining members said: "Without Ian there would have been no Rolling Stones". But despite the accolade the Scot remains a little known player in the history of one of the world's most successful rock bands. Stewart's involvement with the band began when he answered an advert placed by Brian Jones in a jazz magazine. The Scot played piano and keyboards and Jones played saxophone and guitar. They were later joined by Jagger and Richards.

Harry Watson, a cousin of Stewart who only recently discovered the truth of his musical ancestry, is considering writing a book on Stewart's life to highlight the Fife influence in some on the world's best known songs. "People think of the Stones as being from London, but there was this guy from Pittenweem who was behind it all", said Mr Watson.
Along with locals in the 1,500-strong village, he wants to see a memorial plaque to his cousin's achievement. Pittenweems's councillor, James Braid, 88, is in favour of the plan and believes it will prove to be a draw for tourists. He adds: "This village is famous for it's fishing but I didn't know about this connection - maybe it will bring in more tourists. I like the Rolling Stones but I wouldn't say I was a fan. The young people in the village will be particularly pleased".

The village's connection with the supergroup has gone largely unnoticed because Stewart was sidelined early on in the fledging band's career. "Ian was left out of the band after the arrival of the manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who decided that they needed a stronger image. He wanted all the band members to be very androgynous looking but Ian, being a craggy-faced Fifer, was nothing like that".

Stewart remained with the band for the rest of his life as a session musician and a tour manager, all the while pursuing individual music projects when he could. Jaap Hoeksma, the editor of Shattered, a Rolling Stones fanzine, said that Stewart was the soul of the band and kept them going through their early days. He said: "He was a fully fledged member of the band but he was side-tracked by Andrew Oldham who did not think he looked good enough". Brian Jones insisted that Stewart was kept on as a roadie and he later played piano in sessions and on tour.

"He was the first of the Stones to reply to Jones's advert and in the beginning it was just the two of them until Jagger and Richards came along". Later on he helped keep everyone's feet on the ground despite their growing fame". Mr. Watson, an editor of a Scots language dictionary at Edinburgh University, said: "His grandfather was one of the most old-fashioned fishermen in the East Neuk. He chewed tobacco and wore inner and outer waistcoats. It's quite ironic that his grandson went on to play a part in the formation of the Rolling Stones. "Everybody knows about Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe and how they did not become Beatles but little is known about my cousin".

"His east Fife credentials are impeccable. His father was from Cellardyke and his mother was from Pittenweem. The father became an architect and the family moved to London. Ian was born on one of their visits home. They are putting plaques up all over the place to famous people and I think that it is quite important that the birth place of one of the founder members of one of the biggest and most important bands in the world is recognised".

Stewart was born in 1938, a number of years before the rest of the Stones. He was brought up in Surrey by his Fife-born parents. He died of a heart attack at the age of 47. During his career he also worked with Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces. A spokesman for the Rolling Stones said last night that although Stewart did not have the most prominent role in the band, he always played a vital part. He said: "In many ways he was the glue that stuck the band together. He was much more than just a musician. Everyone thought the world of him".

Source: Scotsman, January 6, 1999

Let's start at the very end

Sixth "Stone" dies at 47

Fifer Ian Stewart, the keyboards player who helped found the Rolling Stones in the early sixties, has died of a heart attack, his agent said yesterday. Mick Jagger and most other members of the band were said to be too upset to comment about the death of the man they themselves called "the sixth Rolling Stone". However bass player Bill Wyman said, "Without him there would have been no Rolling Stones. He will be absolutely irreplaceable as a person and a member of the group".

Mr Stewart (47), who hailed from Pittenweem, died on Thursday in a Harley Street clinic. His agent, Keith Altham, said he had gone to the clinic earlier in the day because he felt unwell. Mr Stewart regularly played on the Stones' records, but was "phased out" of the line-up for concerts in the sixties because it was felt his craggy features did not fit the band's image.

He later had a period as road manager. Apart from his involvement with the Stones, he had his own blues band, "Rocket 88". He was divorced and leaves a 15-year-old son.

Source: East Fife Mail, December 1985


Pianist Ian ("Stu") Stewart is one of the founding members of The Rolling Stones. Although manager Andrew Loog Oldham decided early on in their career that there would be no place for Stu in the Stones, he stayed with the band until his untimely death in 1985, aged 47. This modest weblog is intended to be a place where all the pieces of Stu's life and career will come together. Ian Stewart, aka the Sixth Stone, has had a huge influence on the direction and development of the music of The Rolling Stones, but to the general public his important role in the band's career is hardly known. Personally I think that's a shame, and that's why I have started this blog. I'm not really sure which direction (if any...) this blog is gonna take, but I'm looking forward to put the pieces of Stu's life together. Since I'm not a native speaker (I'm from the Netherlands), my use of the English language won't always be that fluid, but I hope we'll all come over that. Let's get started!

Bé (xpensivewinos56)