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Life Celebrating Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary With New Book

04/27/2012
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LIFE Books is commemorating the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary with the May 22 release of 'The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll.'

Fifty years after they first got together, the immortal Rolling Stones are still on top, still selling out arenas around the world. It's a feat that is unparalleled in the history of rock and roll. The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll chronicles the rise—and the occasional dramatic tumbles—of the group that's been called "the greatest rock and roll band in the world, music's original bad boys.

In this deluxe book, LIFE's editors tell the story of the Stones in more than 140 pages of remarkable photos and narrative. It begins with the band's founding—not, in fact, by Mick and Keith, who were recruited by the founders of the original "Rollin' Stones"—by the little-known figures who got the group off the ground and ultimately faded into obscurity.

It soon became Mick Jagger's band, and he emerged as the prototypical front man, whose strutting and flamboyance came to define what a lead singer in a rock band is supposed to be. Their rebellious attitude and blues-inspired brand of music, with hits co-written by Jagger and Keith Richards, soon set them apart and made them huge stars in England.

That popularity didn't initially translate to America. Their first visit to the U.S., in June, 1964, was hardly a British invasion and was met with more yawns than screams. That all changed, however, the second time around, in 1965, when the Stones took America by storm.

The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll also explores the very friendly rivalry between the Stones and the Beatles. The Stones admired and emulated the Beatles who in turn appreciated their competitors' bad boy image and paved the way for the Stones' success.

Drama and controversy have always been a large part of the Rolling Stones' story—the many children, wives and girlfriends; the firing of band members; drug use and arrests; deaths within and outside the band—and have made the group more interesting than any Hollywood dramatization. The book's words and photos reflect on these key events. There are dozens of intimate photos of the band in their early years and in their many configurations, in meetings with other musical and cultural icons from Andy Warhol to Chuck Berry, and personal moments among the band members and with their families.

The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll also examines how the seemingly ageless band members have extended their careers and interests beyond the sound studio and stage, finding new ways to embed themselves in our popular culture.

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