Their middle name name always been “trouble.” Some of it real, most of it imagined. The Rolling Stones were the first of the pop group anti-heroes. Right from the very beginning only their fans accepted them—the rest of the world merely dismissed them as some sort of a group disease which would die by the sterilized point of the good-taste needle.
From The Top From the smallness of the Crawdaddy to the emensity of the top U.S. variety shows, the Rolling Stones were heralded by most critics with something far less than respect. Emerging from their debut at the Crawdaddy, the Stones were met with cries of "would you want your daughter to marry a Rolling Stone?” No mother did.
Eventually finding themselves with a hit record, the Stones overheard the plaintive cry of anguished parents: “They don’t even wash, you know!” Worried about the sanity of their daughters, mothers pointed up the fact that ’’surely they smell.” Stone fans didn’t buy it.
Stateside with a fairly large name already made for themselves, the Stones appeared on Hollywood Palace. It was pure fiasco. Sandwiched between animal acts and introduced with highly uncomplimentary remarks, seething anger churned inside the Stones but they went on with their performance as if nothing had happened. It was, after all, only another in a long line of insults. Months later, Mick termed their appearance on the show "our biggest mistake” —but other than that, he said nothing.
The "Facts” By this time, reporters had wind of the “fact” that the Stones were smart-aleck, smelly kids. They interviewed them as such. They wised-oflf before the Stones could open their mouths. Others who approached the Stones with intelligent, thought-out questions received intelligent, thought-out answers. But they were by far in the minonty.
The Stones, for their part, shot-off when provoked and acted like polite human beings when treated as such. In fact, many times Mick and Keith wore themselves out attempting to make a good impression on a reporter. After the reporter had left, they congratulated themselves “on getting on well” with him only to open the next morning’s paper to find themselves kicked from A to Z and all the way back again. It left a bad taste no matter how many times it happened.
I especially remember one time when I was speaking to Mick in a crowded dressing room. People were pushing and shoving like there was no tomorrow. Elbows were painfully stuck into sides and feet were stepped on with a particular vengence. Yet, through it all Mick took his time answering each and every question I asked him.
Another reporter stalked up to us, planted his ample body between us and began firing ridiculous questions at Mick. The chief Stone gently but firmly moved the man aside explaining that he was busy and as soon as he finished he would answer his questions. The reporter didn’t wait. He shuffled off with a disgusted look on his face and unprintable words tumbling from his mouth. No doubt he returned to his typewriter to tell his readers what a rude and insulting person Mick Jagger was.
Obscene? Still later, the anti-hero Stones had the distinction of having their records termed “obscene.” And the cry changed to: “You know why they sing so you can’t understand them? It’s because everything they sing is dirty!” Dirt, reminded the Stone fans, is in the mind of the listener.
And now the headlines in England scream out the alleged raid by police officers on Keith Richards’ house. A tasty morsel of flesh for those who had started out knocking the Stones only because they “smelled.”
Trouble It made little difference that the police evidently did not find any traces of drugs because no arrests were made. It was enough that they had apparently searched the house. “It must be true,” say the righteous people. “Those Stones are nothing but trouble.”
Bui are they really? Or are they merely victims of the giant publicity machine?
actress Judy Geeson, left, and Scottish singer Lulu (Marie MacDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) during the making of James Clavell’s new film ‘To Sir With Love’, on location at Victoria Barracks, Windsor. 1966. Photo by Chris Ware