Surely, everybody has heard of the Rolling Stones rock band. Been around since 1962, an astonishing 57 years. Only Golden Earring, of “Radar Love” fame, has been around longer.
You may have gone to the Stones farewell concert at Wrigley recently. I didn’t attend as I went to their farewell concert for the “Bridges to Babylon” tour at the United Center back in 1998. (Been a long farewell tour.) Although a fan, once was enough for me.
I suppose most people have heard of the Glimmer Twins, known as Mick Jaggar (75) and the interminable Keith Richards (75), two of the founders of the Stones. Jaggar made news recently for a heart valve procedure in New York in April, delaying the tour a few months. (Notice the surgery was here in the “States” rather than over the pond in England with their socialized healthcare?) They, along with now-retired bassist Bill Wyman (82), drummer Charlie Watts (78), and deceased guitarist Brian Jones are generally known by music aficionado’s as the original five Rolling Stones. Jones, who drowned, was replaced in 1969 by Mick Taylor, and then again in 1975 by Ronnie Wood (72).
Did you know however, there was a sixth Rolling Stone? Or that he was fired from the Stones because his image did not fit the ever-increasing motley appearance of the Stones?
Scotsman Ian Andrew Robert Stewart was the first to answer an ad by Brian Jones about forming a new rhythm and blues band. He was a part of the new band a few months before Mick and Keith joined, and would stay there in some capacity until his death.
Ian, or “Stu” as he was called, was born on July 28th, 1938 on a farm in Fife, Scotland. His parents, John and Ann, lived in Surrey England due to John’s Army obligations. As they wanted their son to be born a 100% true Scotsman, Ann traveled the 460 miles to her parents’ Fife farm for Stu’s birth.
A piano prodigy from age six, he played in various amateur bands until he answered Jones’ ad in Jazz News magazine in May, 1962. At the time he was a shipping clerk at the Imperial Chemicals Industries.With a jaw comparable to Jay Leno, only bigger, Stu played piano and some organ for the band, both in concert and album recordings. It could be said it was he who introduced the Stones to blues music with works by Meade Lux Lewis and Scrapper Blackwell. His stage appearances were short-lived however.
In 1963, then-manager, the flamboyant, Andrew Oldham decided Ian’s image was just not right for the band. Whereas the Stones had become loud, cocky, and much hairier with the times, Stu looked ordinary, more like their accountant. Oldham convinced the members of the band to have Stu “retire,” as he claimed six mates were just too many for a band. Publicity pictures from that year only show the five Rolling Stones band members that would take the world by storm.
But Stu wasn’t done with the Stones, and the Stones weren’t done with him. They just didn’t want to see him on stage. He became their road manager, hauling them to gigs, setting up equipment, and tuning guitars. He also critiqued their nightly performances, an assessment the boys appreciated. He would call them his “little three-chord-wonders.”
Often, he would book the hotels in various cities. Rather than book in downtown hotel close to the girls, bars and nightlife the boys were looking for, he would book them in hotels that had golf courses so he could golf. Stu didn’t care for the drug/alcohol infused party life the rest of the band were partaking, and often lectured them about their debauchery.
Oldham left the Stones management in 1967, but Stu didn’t return to the stage until 1975. From that point, he picked which concerts he would appear. He did, however, appear on all their recordings until 1983. “Undercover” was the last album he recorded with the Stones.
In December of 1985, experiencing breathing problems, Stu went to the doctor. While in the waiting room, he died of a heart attack.
When the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they made sure Ian Stewart was included as part of the enshrined band. In his 2010 memoirs, Richards said: "Ian Stewart. I'm still working for him. To me The Rolling Stones is his band. Without his knowledge and organization ... we'd be nowhere."