The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones (multi-instrumentalist), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica, occasional guitar and keyboards), Keith Richards (guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued to work with the band as a contracted musician until his death in 1985. Brian Jones was the original leader of the group. The band's primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and continues on guitar in tandem with Richards. Following Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones was contracted by the band to play bass. Since 1963, the Stones have not had a keyboardist as a member of the band, but have had long working relationships with Jack Nitzsche (1965–1971), Nicky Hopkins (1967–1982), Billy Preston (1971–1981), Ian McLagan (1978–1981), and Chuck Leavell (1982–present).
The Rolling Stones were at the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the United States in 1964 and were identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, the band started out playing covers but found more success with their own material; songs such as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Paint It Black" became international hits. After a short period of experimentation with psychedelic rock in the mid-1960s, the group returned to its "bluesy" roots with Beggars Banquet (1968), which along with its follow-ups Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972), is generally considered to be the band's best work and is seen as their "Golden Age." It was during this period they were first introduced on stage as "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World."The band continued to release commercially successful albums through the 1970s and early 1980s, including Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981), the two best-sellers in their discography. The Stones released Steel Wheels (1989), promoted by a large stadium and arena tour. Since the 1990s, new material has been less frequent. Despite this, the Rolling Stones continue to be a huge attraction on the live circuit. By 2007, the band had four of the top five highest-grossing concert tours of all time: Voodoo Lounge Tour (1994–1995), Bridges to Babylon Tour (1997–1998), Licks Tour (2002–2003) and A Bigger Bang (2005–2007). Musicologist Robert Palmer attributes the endurance of the Rolling Stones to their being "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music", while "more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone".The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list and their estimated record sales are above 250 million. They have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums and numerous compilations. Let It Bleed (1969) marked the first of five consecutive No. 1 studio and live albums in the UK. Sticky Fingers (1971) was the first of eight consecutive No. 1 studio albums in the US. In 2008, the band ranked 10th on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists chart. In 2012, the band celebrated its 50th anniversary.