Rolling Stones celebrate 50 years (+video)

The Rolling Stones have celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Photo / Rankin/AP
The Rolling Stones have celebrated their 50th anniversary. Photo / Rankin/AP

The Rolling Stones have celebrated 50 years since their first ever gig with a hint that they could satisfy fans by returning to the stage later this year to mark their golden anniversary.

Mick Jagger and bandmates Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts launched an exhibition at Somerset House in London featuring photographs from a career that changed the course of rock music.

Asked about speculation that the Stones could return to the stage after a five-year gap, 68-year-old Jagger said: "Yeah definitely later on, later on this year, on stage."

Jagger added that he still felt good despite half a century in the rock business.

"Definitely rocking, yes. And things are good, you know, 50 years, it seems an awfully long time, but it seems to have gone very, very quickly," he added.

The exhibition features more than 70 photographs, some of which are rare or have never been seen before.

There are photos of the band's concerts but also more intimate, behind-the-scenes pictures.

Dozens of fans turned out at Somerset House to see the aged rockers - nicknamed the "Strolling Bones" because they are all in their sixties and seventies.

"I saw them live in 2006 in Argentina. Today is the 50th year of the greatest band ever. It is my passion," said a 23-year-old Brazilian man who gave his name as Leandro.

"I will start crying if I keep talking like this," he added, showing a tattoo of Jagger's signature on his wrist.

Londoner Alan Harrington, 62, said he had seen the band on January 8, 1965.

"They were wild in those days and they are wild now. And they can still pull a crowd, look at all the young people here,'' he said.

It was on July 12, 1962 that Jagger, Richards and Brian Jones - who died in 1969 - played The Marquee Club in London, first performed under the band name that would soon be known around the world.

Classic hits like (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Brown Sugar have ensured their continued popularity - and a flurry of speculation about a tour.

Richards also hinted at a reunion to mark their 50th anniversary, saying that the surviving band members have met up for "a couple of rehearsals" recently for the first time in five years.

"There's things in the works, there's nothing so final that I could say," he told the BBC in an interview filmed at the exhibition.

"We're playing around with the idea and we've had a couple of rehearsals. We got together lately, and it feels so good. I think soon, I think it's definitely happening, but when, I can't say yet."

Rolling Stone magazine - named after the same blues song which gave the band its name - reported last month that Jagger and his bandmates were considering at least one live concert this year to mark the anniversary.

Jagger took to Twitter recently to deny that the band would stage a show to mark the London Olympics, which get under way on July 27.

"We are not playing the Olympics, but I'm looking forward to watching the Games like everyone else!" he wrote last month.

The band has also denied recent reports that they will play one last concert together at next year's Glastonbury Festival, with a statement saying the date was "not in our plans".

Childhood friends Jagger and Richards were aged just 18 when they played that first Stones gig at 165 Oxford Street and Jones - who drowned in the swimming pool at his home in 1969 - was 20 years old.

In a sign of the times, the site is now a branch of Santander bank.

The Stones have survived numerous personnel changes as well as an often strained relationship between songwriters Jagger and Richards, the core of the band.

This flared up again in 2010, when Richards's colourful autobiography, Life, took several swipes at Jagger, particularly for accepting a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Richards, famed for his vast drug and alcohol intake in the band's heyday, said he had nicknamed Jagger "Your Majesty" and insinuated that the strutting lead singer had a "tiny todger".

Richards wrote in the book: "Sometimes I think, 'I miss my friend.' I wonder, 'Where did he go?'"

Despite the obstacles, the band have continued to perform regularly over the years, although Richards nearly died when he fell from a coconut tree in Fiji in 2006 while touring the band's last album, A Bigger Bang.

A new documentary covering the history of the band from that first concert to the present day is also being showcased in September.

- AFP

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