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The Rolling Stones and the influence of Chicago Blues

How did one of the world's biggest bands of all time get their name?


"So what are you called?" enquired a reporter from Jazz News during a phone call in 1962 with band guitarist Brian Jones. Spying an LP strewn on the floor by blues musician Muddy Waters, Jones glanced at the tracks and read out one of their names: "Rollin' Stone". Responsible for more than just the band's name, Father of the Chicago blues Muddy Waters was a huge inspiration for the Stones' distinctive sound; he produced "the most powerful music ever heard", in Keith Richards' words, "the most expressive".


Discover Muddy Waters and other masters of the Chicago blues with playlists on From that immortal track Rollin' Stone to big-voiced Howlin' Wolf, share the rhythm & blues tracks that inspire you.





In June 1962 the Rolling Stones gave us (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. This mega-hit spent four weeks at the top of the US charts and propelled the band to worldwide fame as the undisputed kings of rock & roll. Critic Robert Palmer felt that the band found enduring success by remaining "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music". Influences on the Rolling Stones came from American rhythm & blues, especially the Chicago blues, much loved by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The trademark "talking blues" style of singer-songwriter and guitarist John Lee Hooker inspired the idiosyncratic blues sound heard in Rolling Stones tracks. Then, of course, there was Bo Diddley a.k.a. 'The Originator', a nickname that recognized his key role in the musical evolution from blues to rock & roll. His driving rhythms and hard-edged guitar sound seemed to speak truth to Jagger and Richards. The band's predilection for the blues fused with their love of rock & roll pioneers like Chuck Berry eventually gave us the Stones songs we love today, from Brown Sugar and Paint It Black to Angie and Gimme Shelter.


This brilliant recording of Bo Diddley live in 1984 conjurs up all the rock & roll glamour of a Rolling Stones gig and showcases The Originator's supreme mastery of blues rhythms.




Listen out for hints of the definitive Rolling Stones sound in tracks like Stand By and We're Cooking in this album entitled Nothing But The Blues by John Lee Hooker.




The ubiquitous blues genre, so influential for 20th century music, is defined by the idiosyncrasies of individual performances, giving us an innumerable variety of recordings each with their own unique sound. Explore its many shades from Memphis Slim to David 'Fathead' Newman with this selection of music.