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The Rolling Stones: Heroes or Villains?


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I recently heard Don Imus characterize the Rolling Stones in a negative light. Stating that the Stones ripped off black artists with little or no credit.

 

I have also read that the Stones, and other British Invasion bands and artists are responsible for bringing blues music back from the dead. American youth at the time of the invasion had no knowledge of the blues. Without the Stones, and others, the blues may have faded away.

 

As a Stones fan and a blues fan, I favor the second characterization. I certainly thank the British for waking me up. Not to claim that I would not have found such wonderful music on my own, but I am glad that I was exposed early in my life rather than later.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I recently heard Don Imus characterize the Rolling Stones in a negative light. Stating that the Stones ripped off black artists with little or no credit.

 

I have also read that the Stones, and other British Invasion bands and artists are responsible for bringing blues music back from the dead. American youth at the time of the invasion had no knowledge of the blues. Without the Stones, and others, the blues may have faded away.

 

As a Stones fan and a blues fan, I favor the second characterization. I certainly thank the British for waking me up. Not to claim that I would not have found such wonderful music on my own, but I am glad that I was exposed early in my life rather than later.

 

It's your choice to give any attention to what Imus says. He is irascible and capable of saying anything in the moment that occurs to him. And often does whether he means it or not. Then a second later, reverse himself, acknowledge he was wrong, mistaken, had indigestion, fell off his horse, suffers from the Big C.

 

Don Imus is or was a great interviewer and very knowledgeable about the music in general. He's also even more curmudgeonly than ever. The Stones have always credited Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and many more with those artists' influence on their music.

 

Imus at any time is either brilliant or brilliantly confounded. My opinion.

 

Best,

Richard

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To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the blues have been greatly exaggerated. Blues music is a living culture which in its day has spawned Jazz, R&B and much of what we call Rock & Roll. It and it's offspring have spread around the world. I'm always surprised at the relative lack of interest in blues music on this forum. IMO, it is America's greatest contribution to the history of music.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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I think Imus' comment is stupid just to be blunt.

 

In the years around the time of the British invasion, and before black music wasn't heard on the radio at least over many parts of the USA. You might claim Pat Boone ripped off black people as some of his hits were their music done by a white guy. But even in that case, maybe Pat benefited more than was fit, and creators of the music didn't. However, without him most of America would not have heard it period.

 

In the case of the Stones, the majority of their music was theirs. Even if inspired by those of other artists that is no different than anyone else. People who grow up listening to blues or rock or jazz and go on to create their own blues and rock and jazz don't share the income with the people they learned it from. While the creators of music don't always benefit like they should things were what they were. They aren't that way anymore. The Stones didn't rip anyone off, they may have gotten benefit others at the time didn't. Does not make the Stones evil.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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British artists like The Rolling Stones, Animals, Clapton, Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), and others who were heavily influenced by American bluesmen and recorded cover versions of their material, did, in fact, credit the original writers who, presumably, got publishing royalties as a result.

The notable exception was Led Zeppelin, who creditied themselves for writing songs that heavily plagarized songs by major American blues artists. They were sued on at least two occasions, by Willie Dixon, for "Bring It On Home", and by Howlin' Wolf, for "The Lemon Song". While both of these suits were settled out of court, the original artists were awarded substantial cash settlements, and were properly credited on subsequent Zeppelin releases.

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Understood or not, these British groups left no doubt about their debt. Indeed, they went out of their way to record it. When the Beatles first came to America they told everyone they wanted to see Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley; one reporter asked: ‘Muddy Waters … Where’s that?’ Paul McCartney laughed and said, ‘Don’t you know who your own famous people are here?’ Eric Clapton quoted Little Walter, Chuck Berry, Bib Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, and Blind Boy Fuller, but above all B. B. King; Muddy Waters was discovered by white America only after the Rolling Stones took their name from one of his tunes. John Lee Hooker understood when he said: ‘It may seem corny to you, but this is true: the groups from England really started the blues rolling and getting bigger among the kids – the White kids. At one time, fifteen years back, the blues was just among the blacks – the old Black people. And this uprise started in England by the Beatles, Animals, Rolling Stones, it started everybody to digging the blues’.

 

“Muddy Waters? – Where’s that?” « Samizdata

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I recently heard Don Imus characterize the Rolling Stones in a negative light. Stating that the Stones ripped off black artists with little or no credit.

 

Imus is an idiot! If he stated the above, he is way off base and simply doesn't know what he is talking about. Wouldn't be the first time for him. He should read Keith Richards' "Life".

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the blues have been greatly exaggerated. Blues music is a living culture which in its day has spawned Jazz, R&B and much of what we call Rock & Roll. It and it's offspring have spread around the world. I'm always surprised at the relative lack of interest in blues music on this forum. IMO, it is America's greatest contribution to the history of music.

 

 

 

+1. And I thank streaming music/internet radio for providing the chance to hear blues music as well as all other types of music.

 

Think about it. It is possible to hear almost anything nowadays. It may not be Hi-Rez, but you can hear it, find new artists to support and just enjoy some tasty tunes.

 

Before the internet, you were stuck in AM/FM land and had to bounce radio waves off of cloud cover to hear a station 136 miles away.

 

I hope the iPod kids develop a taste for diversity in music. After all, it is out there.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I feel strongly that any discussion of British blues bands much include Savoy Brown. As a young lad, I don't think I really new what the blues was until a friend brought over their 1969 album, Bue Matter (with Train to Nowhere and Vicksburg Blues). Blew my young mind-- and then I got into Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield/Butterfield Blues Band, and then the Winter brothers, etc.

In fact, it was not until my late teens that I even realized that the Stones and Led Zep had any blues in them at all.

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Good grief, people will say anything but the truth just because they can.

 

How about some hard evidence from The Rolling Stones "Out of Our Heads" album back cover, 1965. Take a look at the actual words put on the album that give full credit to the blues (and other) artists they supposedly gave no credit to.

 

The evidence shows the exact opposite and it is pathetic that this is being said because there is no reason for it. It's hard to dispute the album cover from 1965, an album that brought us "Satisfaction" and the first and second US tours. See for yourself:

 

IMG_1959-001.jpg

 

Here are excerpts from the back of the album:

 

"OTIS REDDING songs…MARVIN GAYE opus…a great Solomn Burke ballad…by way of a tribute to the late SAM COOKE, who was one of the greatest talents to emerge in the rock 'n' roll era."

 

The caps are from the text, not by me. They also give full song writing credit in the song listing. They only give themselves credit for three of the songs.

 

Not hard to figure out that the comment is total BS…

 

Best,

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

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This:

 

...

The notable exception was Led Zeppelin, who creditied themselves for writing songs that heavily plagarized songs by major American blues artists. They were sued on at least two occasions, by Willie Dixon, for "Bring It On Home", and by Howlin' Wolf, for "The Lemon Song". While both of these suits were settled out of court, the original artists were awarded substantial cash settlements, and were properly credited on subsequent Zeppelin releases.

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+1

 

From their name and everything else, the Stones gave credit to blues players. A lot of American kids only heard about Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson because of the Stones.

Before the British invasion, the Blues, especially Chicago Blues, was basically a very small niche market in the States. The British bands brought the first mainstream attention to many blues artists that they'd ever received. I seem to remember a successful British band called "The Bluesbreakers"...

 

Even the Beatles, who were more of a Rock and Roll/Pop band, played a couple of blues tunes. And as hard as it is to believe now, until the Beatles came along a lot of the American Motown Music and Girl Groups weren't well known among whites. The Beatles helped all those artists become known and get airplay on "white" radio stations. They also went out of their way to give them credit and talk publicly about how good those blues and R&B artists were.

 

So sorry, the comment in the original post is a crock.

 

 

 

Good grief, people will say anything but the truth just because they can.

 

How about some hard evidence from The Rolling Stones "Out of Our Heads" album back cover, 1965. Take a look at the actual words put on the album that give full credit to the blues (and other) artists they supposedly gave no credit to.

 

The evidence shows the exact opposite and it is pathetic that this is being said because there is no reason for it. It's hard to dispute the album cover from 1965, an album that brought us "Satisfaction" and the first and second US tours. See for yourself:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]11344[/ATTACH]

 

Here are excerpts from the back of the album:

 

"OTIS REDDING songs…MARVIN GAYE opus…a great Solomn Burke ballad…by way of a tribute to the late SAM COOKE, who was one of the greatest talents to emerge in the rock 'n' roll era."

 

The caps are from the text, not by me. They also give full song writing credit in the song listing. They only give themselves credit for three of the songs.

 

Not hard to figure out that the comment is total BS…

 

Best,

John

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British artists like The Rolling Stones, Animals, Clapton, Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), and others who were heavily influenced by American bluesmen and recorded cover versions of their material, did, in fact, credit the original writers who, presumably, got publishing royalties as a result.

The notable exception was Led Zeppelin, who creditied themselves for writing songs that heavily plagarized songs by major American blues artists. They were sued on at least two occasions, by Willie Dixon, for "Bring It On Home", and by Howlin' Wolf, for "The Lemon Song". While both of these suits were settled out of court, the original artists were awarded substantial cash settlements, and were properly credited on subsequent Zeppelin releases.

 

And there's the rub. Sadly, most bluesmen got bupkes for their work despite having inspired many stars who made fortunes from their music. They didn't own the rights to their music - they were basically swindled out of them, e.g. had $10 to $25 in cash waved at them for their recording session plus copyright ownership and publishing rights. Willie Dixon was a champion for those people - check out his Blues Heaven Foundation, the organization he founded with the mission of "...[helping] artists and musicians obtain what is rightfully theirs, and [educating] both adults and children on the history of the Blues and the business of music". His vision for the foundation was "... to allow the echoes of great American Blues to continue to develop, to encourage a new generation of blues greats and to provide for the on-going welfare of senior Blues musicians".

 

Dixon was an excellent bassist, guitarist, composer and performer who mastered the business of music and helped countless others get their acts together and their music on record. My favorite Dixon quote is that "the blues are the roots, and the other musics are the fruits". Here's a great shot of Willie with Muddy and Buddy at Chess Studios...

 

Chess-300x225.jpg

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One of my favorite things about the Stones is that they became close friends with Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitarist; when he passed, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid for his funeral - we're talking 2011 and they still haven't forgotten, y'know?

 

Rolling Stones' Jagger, Richards Pay For Hubert Sumlin's Funeral | Billboard

 

Ummm - the ROI on that investment was incalculable. To the best of my knowledge, they never actually paid a cent in royalties to any of their blues idols for covering their songs. They didn't owe them anything, as the owners of those tunes were far removed from the composers and original performers. I'm sure all necessary legally required payments were made, but they rarely got to the originators.

 

Of course, "bidness is bidness", and reality may shock some of you. For example, Muddy didn't write "Got my Mojo Workin'" - he tried to steal it from two unknowns named Preston Foster and Ann Cole after hearing her perform the tune while on tour with him. He apparently forgot some of her words and made up his own in the middle of the verse, then tried to copyright his own version. But he lost his legal challenge to Dare Music (the company that owned the Foster and Cole copyright). The whole story of the song is worth a read - anyone who's interested in this topic should check out The Judge Who Hated Red Nail Polish, the story of Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds. And the song still returns about $25k every year in royalties.

 

Lest anyone think the judiciary has no soul, you'll all be relieved at the landmark court ruling on whether anyone can actually own Mojo , whether or not it works:

 

"MOJO is a commonplace part of the rhetoric of the culture of a substantial portion of the American people. As a figure of speech, the concept of having, or not having, one’s MOJO working is not something in which any one person could assert originality, or establish a proprietary right."

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+1

 

...

Even the Beatles, who were more of a Rock and Roll/Pop band, played a couple of blues tunes. And as hard as it is to believe now, until the Beatles came along a lot of the American Motown Music and Girl Groups weren't well known among whites. ...

 

Motown's first number 1 hit was Please Mr. Postman in 1961, by the Marvelettes. Predates the British Invasion. Hard to think they could have got to #1 with no airplay on "white" stations. I think Motown did just fine without the Beatles help. I think they came along just a little before the British Invasion and it took them a little time to get up to speed, but they were immensely popular all on their own.

 

Regarding the OP, REShaman pegged Imus pretty much dead on.

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Motown's first number 1 hit was Please Mr. Postman in 1961, by the Marvelettes. Predates the British Invasion. Hard to think they could have got to #1 with no airplay on "white" stations. I think Motown did just fine without the Beatles help. I think they came along just a little before the British Invasion and it took them a little time to get up to speed, but they were immensely popular all on their own.

 

Regarding the OP, REShaman pegged Imus pretty much dead on.

 

 

I sent an e mail to the Imus show yesterday. Directing (his) their attention to this thread. No response.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I sent an e mail to the Imus show yesterday. Directing (his) their attention to this thread. No response.

 

Ha! That's great!

 

Some really perceptive posts here. I learned a thing or 2.

 

Just want to mention the Yardbirds. Lots of blues along with their psychedelic fare. I loved them and learned how to play some of their covers, as well as the Stones and others. A few years later I began to discover the real thing.

1070957250_Imprimatur.NihilObstatSepia3Crop(2).jpg.2162a44365e84a5df7d456bf8026ed67.jpg

 

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Ha! That's great!

 

Some really perceptive posts here. I learned a thing or 2.

 

Just want to mention the Yardbirds. Lots of blues along with their psychedelic fare. I loved them and learned how to play some of their covers, as well as the Stones and others. A few years later I began to discover the real thing.

 

 

 

The Yardbirds cover of Smoke Stack Lightning is one of the best versions of that great song. I believe it is from the 5 Live Yardbirds LP.

The Harmonica track is amazing.

 

The copy I have is very low rez. I think the original live recording was very bad. But the recording does capture a great moment in Yardbirdology.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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