It might make me unpopular, but I think… the Rolling Stones are completely, utterly overrated.
Working class heroes? Ha! More like slumming, middle-class poseurs. I’m not saying they don’t have a few good songs, but second best band of all time behind the Beatles? (A distinction that puts them ahead of the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Who, the Turtles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a dozen others with just as many hits.) Please. Not even close.
After the jump, ten unassailable reasons why the Rolling Stones are actually pretty awful.
10. The drug stuff is sort of scary. There’s something unnatural about 70-somethings consuming unending cascades of pure, uncut cocaine. Maybe they’re back on the wagon, maybe they aren’t, but there’s a reason everyone believed it when Keith Richards said he’d snorted some of his father’s ashes: because it was believable.
9. Their daughters are REALLY weird. Seriously, look.
8. They inspired 754,967 unbelievably bad bar bands. Nothing in the world is worse than a piss-poor cover of “Gimme Shelter.” Well nothing except the sixty bazillion real bands that continue to ape the Stones’ horribly dated aesthetic. There’s a reason no one takes Elvis impersonators seriously. It’s because stuff like that looks silly!
7. They weren’t actually working class. Despite the rough-and-tumble act, Mick Jagger was at London School of Economics before the band got serious, and the rest of the crew were equally well off. Despite the accents they affected once they hit the big time, their working-class cred was and is a pure media construction.
6. Cocksucker Blues. An unreleased documentary held back after objections by the band, Cocksucker Blues offered a pure, uncensored record of the post-Altamont era. More than proving that the band’s members were macho, self-obsessed stereotypes (a virtue in some people’s minds, I suppose), it offered a clear case for the idea that they weren’t so much subversives as gigantic assholes.
5. Altamont. Whether or not they actually hired the Hell’s Angels (or just traded beer for half-assed semi-security), the Stones certainly could have done more to stop the destruction. By the time the band hit the stage at Altamont, other acts, including the Grateful Dead, had pulled out. The least they could have done was address the situation and call for calm before there was a murder in the audience. No big deal, though. All it did was kill the spirit of the ’60s.
4. They were anything but inimitable. In fact, they didn’t really invent anything. Bands like the Byrds, the Hollies, and Them debuted around the same time with dissonant hits that were every bit as inspired. All the Rolling Stones did was dress the blues up in more overt machismo.
3. They were horribly, horribly sexist. Entire dissertations have expounded on the overtly sexist, violent, and borderline psychopathic lyrics of songs like “Paint it Black,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Sticky Fingers.” Rather than offer an inclusive revolution, the Stones set back the cause, marginalizing, objectifying, and animalizing women in more creatively sick ways than pretty much anyone else. The good news? The rock template they created is still around.
2. They rode in on the ass-end of the British Invasion. OK, sure, the Stones were seminal, but the Beatles had an album out for two years before they even entered the arena.
1. They won’t go away! It’s not always better to burn out than fade away, but these guys are getting straight-up geriatric. Keith Richards is famous for saying “If I’m singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 40, I’m going to kill myself.” Maybe he actually meant 80?