Rolling Stones: ‘One of them looks like a chimpanzee’

From The Los Angeles Times:

The Rolling Stones have celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first official gig, posing for photos at a London art exhibition and coyly deflecting rumors of an upcoming tour. It’s a safe bet that at today’s genial press gathering, no one referred to a member of the Stones as an early human pithecanthropus erectus.

That one is on us.

Everyone has growing pains, and that includes rock ‘n’ roll bands and the media that cover them. When the Rolling Stones played their first show at London’s Marquee Club in 1962, pop music journalism was still in its infancy. Rolling Stone magazine, for instance, wouldn’t come around until 1967.

The Rolling Stones garnered a major write-up in the Los Angeles Times in 1964, and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, the band’s prettiness — or lack thereof — is pretty much all this paper was interested in.

There was no mention of the band’s re-appropriation of American blues or its attraction to the seedier elements of society. There was instead the declaration that two of the band members resembled a pair of less attractive Radcliffe girls — referring to the Massachusetts women’s college, not the yet-to-be-conceived star of the “Harry Potter” series. The Times also took issue with Stones peers the Pretty Things.

“The Stones are not handsome or even cute, in any of the senses in which those words have been understood until just recently,” Bill Whitworth wrote in December 1964. “One of them looks like a chimpanzee. Two look like very ugly Radcliffe girls. One resembles the encyclopedia drawings of pithecanthropus erectus. The fifth is a double for Ray Bolger in the role of Charley’s Aunt. The Radcliffe girls and Charley’s Aunt wear their hair much longer than the Beatles. A member of a group called the Pretty Things wears his longer still, and has it cut and set in a style calls to mind Clairol ads.”

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