Start Me Up Once More: The Rolling Stones at 50 Prepare to Tour

From The New York Times:

“You can’t get away from that number,” Keith Richards said with a chuckle by telephone from Paris, where the Rolling Stones have been rehearsing for arena concerts and have played guerrilla club and theater shows. The Stones, led by Mick Jagger and Mr. Richards (although the other members have changed), played their first gig in 1962. And with less than two months remaining in this anniversary year, the machinery of commemoration and promotion has swung into motion.

In one way the Stones have been doing the same thing for half a century: playing obstinately unpolished rock ’n’ roll. It’s American music — blues, country, R&B, gospel — refracted through English sensibilities while ditching decorum and riding the backbeat. Yet around that music, every conceivable meaning has changed.

What once was taken as radical, wanton, even dangerous has become old-school and privileged; tickets for the band’s two shows at the Prudential Center in Newark run $95 to $750 plus fees. (The Dec. 15 show will also be a pay-per-view broadcast.) The songs that once outraged parents are now oldies to pass on to the grandchildren. “You’d gone all the way from ‘It’s too dangerous to go’ to people bringing their children” to shows, Mr. Jagger said from Paris. “It became a family outing.” And a band that was once synonymous with a riotous volatility has become — despite all commercial, cultural and chemical odds — a symbol of stability. Members now describe the band with an unexpected word for the Rolling Stones: discipline. “It requires quite a bit of discipline to be a Rolling Stone,” Mr. Richards said. “Although it seems to be shambolic, it’s a very disciplined bunch.”

Interviewed separately, the guitarist Ronnie Wood, who joined the band in 1975, agreed. “No matter what was going on the outside, no matter how much we whooped it up,” he said, “we felt a responsibility, and we still do, to make great music.”

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