The Rolling Stones have led the rock ‘n’ roll charge for over 60 years.
Formed in 1962, the group initially achieved success in the U.K. with cover songs. The band’s first international hit came in 1965 with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” followed by other classics like “Paint It, Black,” “Symphony For the Devil” and “Start Me Up.”
Consisting of long-standing members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and the late Charlie, as well as past bandmates Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Ian Stewart and Mick Taylor, the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
According to Reuters, the Rolling Stones have sold more than 240 million albums worldwide since their inception. Their touring legacy is the stuff of legend: They’ve embarked on over 50 tours since their first as headliners in June 1964, with two among the top 10 highest-grossing tours of all time, per Billboard.
Despite some setbacks, including the death of drummer Watts in 2021, the Rolling Stones show no signs of slowing down. On Oct. 20, 2023, the Stones released a new album, Hackney Diamonds — their first record since 2005. Several musical legends are featured on the album, too, including Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Lady Gaga.
“We wouldn’t have put out this album out if we didn’t really like it,” Jagger said after announcing the album in September 2023. “We must say that we are quite pleased with it. We’re not big-headed but we hope you like it.”
Hackney Diamonds is also the first album the British rockers recorded since Watts’ death. “Ever since Charlie’s gone it’s different, he’s number four,” Richards told Jimmy Fallon at the same press event. “He’s missing, he’s up there. Of course he’s missed incredibly.”
But it was Watts who recommended his replacement, drummer Steve Jordan, “if anything happened to him.”
“It was a natural progression,” Richards said of Jordan, who appears on “most” of the album’s tracks. “It would have been a lot harder without Charlie’s blessing on that.”
In November 2023, the rock band announced the Stones Tour ’24 Hackney Diamonds, sponsored by AARP. The 16-date run of stadium concerts across the United States and Canada will kick off on April 28, 2024.
From forming the band in the ’60s to making new music six decades later, here’s everything to know about long-standing Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and the late Charlie Watts.
Mick Jagger, the Stones’ frontman famous for his full lips and shimmying hips, was born Michael Philip Jagger in Dartford, Kent, England, on July 26, 1943. Jagger’s father was a physical education teacher, a career he planned to emulate.
Jagger was a childhood friend of Keith Richards, but they lost touch as teens until a chance reconnection on a train platform in 1961, according to the BBC. At the time, Jagger was a student at the London School of Economics. Within two years, Jagger formed the Rolling Stones with Richards, Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ian Stewart, with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts joining soon after. Jagger dropped out of school in the fall of 1963 to focus on music full-time, using what he learned in school and becoming known for his fierce and frugal business acumen and contract negotiations.
In addition to fronting the Rolling Stones, Jagger released four solo albums — She’s the Boss in 1985, Primitive Cool in 1987, Wandering Spirit in 1993 and Goddess in the Doorway in 2001. In 2003, King Charles (then the Prince of Wales) knighted Jagger for his services to music.
He’s appeared in several films, including Performance, Ned Kelly and Freejack, and has found even more success as a film producer, with hits like The Women, starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and Eva Mendes in 2008; the James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman in 2014; and the HBO series Vinyl in 2016.
Jagger’s personal life has been as colorful as his professional one. He dated model Chrissie Shrimpton from 1963 to 1966 and English singer and actress Marianne Faithfull, with whom he co-wrote “Sister Morphine,” from 1966 to 1970.
In 1969, Jagger had an affair with married model Marsha Hunt, about whom Jagger wrote “Brown Sugar,” according to USA Today. She would give birth to Jagger’s first child, Karis Hunt Jagger, on Nov. 4, 1970.
The same year Karis was born, Jagger met actress Bianca Jagger (née Pérez-Mora Macías). They married in May 1971 and welcomed their daughter, Jade Sheena Jezebel, in October. Jagger and Bianca separated in 1977 and divorced a year later. He soon took up with model Jerry Hall. They welcomed daughter Elizabeth Scarlett Jagger in 1984, son James Leroy Augustin Jagger in 1985, daughter Georgia May Ayeesha Jagger in 1992 and son Gabriel Luke Beauregard Jagger in 1997.
Jagger and Hall had an unofficial wedding ceremony in Bali, Indonesia, in November 1990. They split in 1999 after Jagger revealed he fathered a child with Brazilian model Luciana Gimenez Morad. Their son, Lucas Maurice Morad Jagger, was born in May 1999.
The rocker welcomed his eighth child, son Deveraux Octavian Basil Jagger, with his girlfriend, ballerina Melanie Hamrick, in 2016.
In 1992, Jagger reflected on his young rock star days with Vanity Fair. “I wasn’t trying to be rebellious in those days; I was just being me. I wasn’t trying to push the edge of anything,” he said. “All those songs we sang were pretty tame, really. People didn’t think they were, but I thought they were tame.”
Famous as much for his antics as his solos, Keith Richards is the secondary vocalist and lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, as well as co-songwriter and producer with Jagger. Together, they’re often credited as “The Glimmer Twins.”
Richards was born on Dec. 18, 1943, in Dartford, England, not far from Jagger, his childhood friend. Richards’ grandfather, a jazz musician, gave him a guitar when he was young and taught him his first song, “Malagueña.”
He grew apart from Jagger when they attended different schools, but they ran into each other on a train platform in 1961. Richards and Jagger bonded over the blues albums Jagger was carrying. Like his friend, Richards dropped out of school to focus on music full-time, and they formed the Rolling Stones shortly after.
In addition to rock stardom with the Stones, Richards also had a side project, Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos, and has performed on and produced tracks for other music icons, including with Aretha Franklin for her rendition of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
In 1967, Richards began dating actress Anita Pallenberg, who once dated former Stones guitarist Brian Jones. Richards and Pallenberg welcomed their first child, son Marlon in 1969, followed by daughter Angela in 1972 and son Tara in 1976. Tara died of sudden infant death syndrome in June 1976 at just 2 months old. Richards was on tour at the time and recalled to The Guardian that he was heavily criticized for performing the night he learned of his death. The guitarist said it was the only way he could imagine coping with the pain.
Richards and Pallenberg amicably split in 1979. That same year, he met model Patti Hansen, whom he married on his birthday in 1983. Richards and Hansen share daughters Theodora, born in 1985, and Alexandra, born in 1986.
Outside of music, Richards has maintained a steady figure in pop culture. In 2007, he had a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Johnny Depp has said he based his character on Richards.
In 2014, Richards authored the children’s book Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar about learning guitar from his grandfather; his daughter Theodora illustrated the project.
These days, when he’s not on tour, Richards enjoys a quiet life in Weston, Connecticut. He told Rolling Stone in 2002 that his typical day is laid-back, waking up at 7 a.m. and reading or sailing around the Long Island Sound.
“I do a lot of recording in my basement — writing songs, keeping up to speed. I have no fixed routine,” he said. “I wander about the house, wait for the maids to clean the kitchen, then f— it all up again and do some frying. Patti and I go out once a week, if there’s something on in town — take the old lady out for dinner with a bunch of flowers, get the rewards.”
Guitarist Ronnie Wood was born Ronald David Wood on June 1, 1947, in Hillingdon, England. His music career began when he was just 17 years old, playing guitar in British bands like the Birds and the Jeff Beck Group. When the Jeff Beck Group split in 1969, Wood and a young Rod Stewart formed the band Faces; Wood also worked on some of Stewart’s solo albums.
In 1973, Wood asked his longtime friend, former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, to help him record a solo album; Wood ended up collaborating with Taylor, Jagger and Richards on the EP, and he worked with Jagger on the Stones’ single “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It).” When Taylor left the Stones in December 1974, Wood joined the band temporarily in recording sessions and on tour for Black and Blue. When Faces officially disbanded in 1975, Wood became a full-time member of the Rolling Stones while pursuing solo efforts.
In addition to his musical prowess, Wood is also an accomplished illustrator and visual artist — his portrait of Prince Philip even garnered interest from the British royal family.
“I did a wonderful painting of the Duke of Edinburgh shortly before he died where he is tipping his hat. I’ve been asked by Prince William to present the picture to him in the coming weeks, and he’s going to show the Queen, so it’s a real honor for me,” Wood told the Daily Mail in February 2022.
Wood is also the author of four books. His first, 1988’s The Works, is an essay collection co-written with Bill German featuring illustrations by Wood. A decade later, Wood’s artwork was published in Wood on Canvas: Every Picture Tells a Story. In 2007, Wood published an autobiography titled Ronnie, co-written with Jeffrey Robinson and Wood’s son-in-law, Jack MacDonald. A second autobiography, Ronnie Wood: Artist, hit shelves in 2017.
Wood has been married three times. His first was to model Krissy Findlay, with whom he shares son Jesse James Wood, from 1971 to 1978. Wood married his second wife, model Josephine “Jo” Wood, in 1985. He adopted Jo’s son Jamie from her previous marriage. Wood and Jo welcomed daughter Leah in 1978 and son Tyrone in 1983, though they officially divorced in 2009.
In December 2012, Wood married his third wife, Sally Humphreys, a theater producer 31 years his junior. The pair reportedly got engaged that October after dating for six months. They welcomed twin girls, Gracie Jane and Alice Rose, on May 30, 2016.
“At the moment I’m just soaking up every moment we have,” Wood told Hello! magazine. “I have Sally, I have my beautiful family and I have two little gorgeous dolly girls. All I can think is that someone up there really likes me.”
In August 2017, Wood announced that he’d had “a touch of lung cancer” surgically removed and had opted not to undergo chemotherapy to avoid losing his hair. He told Mail on Sunday’s Event Magazine: “I was prepared for bad news but I also had faith it would be okay. Apart from the doctors, we didn’t tell anyone because we didn’t want to put anyone else through the hell we were going through.”
Four years later, Wood revealed that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of small-cell cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, but he was given a clean bill of health from his medical team after treatment.
“I’m just as busy as ever but nowadays I can remember what I’m doing,” Wood told The Sun. “The music is still throbbing away. I used to never stop. It must have been relentless to be around me, just crazy the stuff I did. I was erratic but none of my enthusiasm has gone.”
Charlie Watts, born Charles Robert Watts in London on June 2, 1941, was a founding member of the Rolling Stones and served as the band’s impeccably dressed drummer from 1963 until his death in 2021.
Watts taught himself to play drums as a teen. He played in jazz bands around London and worked as a graphic designer before the Stones recruited him with the promise of a salary of 5 pounds per week (about $60 in 2023). He played his first gig with the band on Jan. 14, 1963.
Aside from his work with the Rolling Stones, Watts nurtured his love for jazz with his side project, The Charlie Watts Quintet.
In 1964, Watts married his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd, with whom he shared daughter Seraphina. He credited his disinterest in fame for the survival of his marriage. “I’m not really a rock star,” he told NME in 2018. “I don’t have all the trappings of that. … I’ve never been interested in doing interviews or being seen.”
Watts underwent treatment for throat cancer in 2004, and in early August 2021, he announced that he would have to sit out the Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour that fall while he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.
Watts died at age 80 on Aug. 24, 2021, following an unspecified illness; his wife Shirley died in December 2022 at age 84. Before his hospitalization, Watts and the band recorded new music. Two songs on the Stones’ 2023 album Hackney Diamonds feature Watts on the drums.
After Watts’ death, Jagger told Rolling Stone: “The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have. We had some really nice conversations in the last couple of years about how all this happened with the band. It’s a huge loss to us all. It’s very, very hard.”
Richards said he would miss Watts’ sense of humor, adding that the drummer “was the rock” that held the Rolling Stones together.
“A most vital part of being in this band was that Charlie Watts was my bed,” Richards said. “I could lay on there, and I know that not only would I have a good sleep, but I’d wake up and it’d still be rocking. It was something I’ve had since I was 19. I never doubted it. I never even thought about it.”