Mick and Keith, despite being born in Dartford, Kent, England, were always meant to make their way to Chicago — the home of their heroes.
Friends as children, Jagger would move away. They’d reconnect in 1960 by pure chance, running into each other on a train platform. If Jagger wasn’t carrying a Muddy Waters record, they may never have struck up a conversation about their shared love of the blues. Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Eddie Taylor… These were the Chicago bluesmen Jagger and Richards loved — they even cover most of ’em on 2016 Blues and Lonesome. Throw in Chuck Barry and you have the very core of the Rolling Stones’ musical influences.
To be blunt, the Rolling Stones would not exist without Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters. The very name of their band, in fact, was takin’ from the Muddy Waters single Rollin’ Stone.
There’s one finite thread that connects the Stones to their aforementioned heroes: Chess Records.
The legendary record company once located at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue. It’s where Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone” was recorded in 1950. The names above all released records through Chess. And while the Stones did not come from the birthplaces of their heroes, places like Missouri and Mississippi, they still ended up in Chicago just like them.
The Rolling Stones were still figuring out how to be the Rolling Stones when they made their way to Chicago in 1964.
Their setlist in ’64 was still mostly devoid of original songs, which made sense, since it was the blues standards they played that had garnered them a following in London. The band at the time was Mick and Keith along with Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and (unofficially) Ian Stewart.