Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting ready for prime time

It's hard to imagine that the best bands of the British Invasion ever struggled for success or attention, but it was not an easy go for the Rolling Stones or the Beatles back in their pre-BI days.

Listening to an early Stones' recording of "Come On," which was released on this day in 1963, it's easy to hear what Decca Records thought it had by signing the band.  But this was the same company that a year earlier passed on the Beatles (who would later sign with EMI, even after producer George Martin called their music "awful.")

The Stones were raw in 1963 and had no original material, and wouldn't have until after returning from their first American tour in 1964. But they sure knew how to pick their covers: Here are their first five singles released in the U.K. and their top chart positions:

June '63, Come On (Chuck Berry), No. 21
Nov. '63, I Wanna Be Your Man (Lennon-McCartney), No. 12
Feb. '64, Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly), No. 3
June '64, It's All Over Now (Bobby & Shirley Womack), No. 1
Nov. '64, Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon), No. 1

The Stones wouldn't make a record with original songs on both sides until December 1964, when London released "Heart of Stone/"What a Shame." It wouldn't be long before the Jagger-Richards credit became a juggernaut like Lennon-McCartney.

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