The Rolling Stones Hit 50: Still Rocking And Rolling As Keith Richards Confirms Rehearsals

50 years ago today – July 12, 1962 – The Rolling Stones‘ seminal, first gig at The Marquee Club on Oxford Street, London, would set them on the path to fame and staggering fortune.

That gig was the first time Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Ian Stewart, Dick Taylor and Tony Chapman would perform under the name The Rollin’ Stones.

According to Richards, the band’s signature name was born during a phone call to a journalist. Struggling to think of something interesting, apparently Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor (one of the tracks on that LP was Rolling Stone) – and the rest is history.

Momentous hits such as (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Wild Horses, among many others, and 2oo million sales later – celebrations for one of Britain’s most beloved institutions kick off today with a free photographic exhibition.

London’s Somerset House will host the huge archive of photographs, prints and outtakes from the band’s eventful years in the music business, with today’s opening attended by the band. The public will get a chance to take a wander through the ages from tomorrow, and the exhibit runs until August 27.

A public statement by the band when the exhibition was announced said:

“This is our story of 50 fantastic years. We started out as a blues band playing the clubs and more recently we’ve filled the largest stadiums in the world with the kind of show that none of us could have imagined all those years ago.”

Jagger and Richards formed the band when they were both 18 years of age. Both would outlive band member changes, their own – at times – combative relationship, and survive the untimely death of guitarist Brian Jones – who drowned in a swimming pool at his home 7 years after the band formed.

Speaking to the BBC’s Will Gompertz yesterday about the possibility of the band reforming to mark the 50th anniversary Richards said,

“There’s things in the works – I think it’s definitely happening. But when? I can’t say yet. We’re playing around with the idea and had a couple of rehearsals – we’ve got together and it feels so good.”

Asked about whether he ever expected the band to last as long as they have, Richards added,

“Never, back then groups used to last about two or three years. You hoped to have a good time and that was that,” said the rocker.

In the same interview, Richards did admit to having certain regrets.

“I wouldn’t have taken certain things if I’d known what I’d have to do to get off of it,” he said. But also added,

“I can’t think of any other real regrets. I regret Brian dying, I remember thinking ‘Brian, how dare you leave the band’ because we were all very close. I can’t regret something, I’d go through the hard times again just to keep things as they are.”

First used on the Sticky Fingers album sleeve in 1971, the John Pasche designed logo was updated this year by Shepard Fairey

As well as the Somerset House exhibition, a documentary in September and a new book release will also spotlight The Stones‘ 50 year watermark. In fact, the festivities are expected to stretch into next year. Last year, Richards told Rolling Stones magazine that,

The Stones always really considered 1963 to be 50 years, because Charlie [Watts] didn’t actually join until January. We look upon 2012 as sort of the year of conception, but the birth is next year.”

Last word goes to Sir Mick Jagger who, recalling life as the frontman of one of the most iconic bands in history described them as “mostly wonderful.”

Rock on.