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55 Years Ago: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards Meet Brian Jones

Mark and Colleen Hayward, Getty Images
Mark and Colleen Hayward, Getty Images

It isn’t always possible to pinpoint the moments when destiny strikes — particularly when it comes to rock history, in which the finer details are often lost to the fog of time (and other things). But on April 7, 1962, one of modern music’s most fateful meetings occurred when a couple of kids named Mick Jagger and Keith Richards ventured out to a show at a London blues club and saw Brian Jones perform for the first time.

Jagger and Richards, childhood friends who’d reconnected two years earlier over a shared love of the blues, were part of a local combo they’d dubbed Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys — a band with its share of talent, but one whose leaders hadn’t yet considered the possibility of a career in music. After reading about the Ealing Club — recently rechristened from the Ealing Jazz Club and refocused on R&B — they made plans to catch a show on April 7.

“Just when we were getting together, we read this little thing about a rhythm and blues club starting in Ealing,” Richards later recalled. “‘Let’s go up to this place and find out what’s happening.'”

Performing at the Ealing were Blues Incorporated, the highly respected collective led by Alexis Korner; over the years, his lineup would at various points include an incredible array of future British rock stars, but on this night, Korner’s stage crew included drummer Charlie Watts and a young guitarist calling himself Elmo Lewis — also known as Brian Jones.

Jones’ big number that night was a slide-fueled cover of Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom,” and the young blues disciples Jagger and Richards came away thoroughly impressed. Although they hadn’t yet made the same inroads into the London blues scene that Jones had already forged, that would soon change — they’d already sent a demo to Korner, and before long, Jagger and Richards would end up working their way into Blues Incorporated’s shows.

“I rang Mick and invited him to come and visit me,” said Korner. “We dug each other. Then Mick and Keith started to come down to gigs. They went everywhere together; you never got Mick without Keith.”

Once established in one another’s orbits, the trio fast established a fateful bond. Bitten with the performing bug and determined to prove a blues band could succeed in Britain, Jones exited the Korner fold and set about assembling his own group. Jagger, by then a part-time frontman for Blues Incorporated, soon joined up with Jones — and just as Korner might have predicted, he was soon followed by Richards and their fellow Blue Boy, guitarist Dick Taylor. The Rollin’ Stones were on their way — and rock ‘n’ roll would never be the same.

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