The Rolling Stones in 2012

The Rolling Stones released six digital downloads over the course of 2012 chronicling some of their legendary shows over the years as part of their ongoing "official" bootleg series via Google Play. The official boots included such newly remixed titles as Hampton Coliseum: Live 1981; L.A. Friday (Live, 1975); Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones - Live At The Checkerboard Lounge - Chicago 1981; Light The Fuse: Toronto 2005; Rolling Stones Tokyo Dome (Live 1990); and The Rolling Stones: Live At Leeds Roundhay Park - 1982.

Mick Jagger says that due to the fact that rock is among the oldest genres in popular music, new artists have to fight harder to break new ground as the decades roll on: "I mean, the only thing is, it's been going longer as a musical form, so rock music as defined by . . . so, four blokes playing in a band was quite new in the early-'60s. So, the whole idea of a form -- the form is old now. So it's two -- how many generations, two, three generations? So, it's like an old thing being handed down now. So, I don't know. It's probably difficult to make such a splash as it was for that reason."

In June, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts released his latest solo project, the Live In Paris collection from his latest side band, the A, B, C & D Of Boogie Woogie. The band takes its name from the initials of the four members: Axel Zwingenberger on piano, Ben Waters on piano and vocals, Watts on drums, and Dave Green on bass. Formed in 2009 they have quickly established a reputation at the forefront of boogie woogie music.

Live In Paris was recorded over several nights in September 2010 at Paris' Duc Des Lombards jazz club. The setlist is a mix of originals, improvisations, along with blues and boogie woogie standards. Highlights on the collection include "Down The Road A Piece," "St. Louis Blues," and "Route 66."

Charlie Watts told us that swing music holds an important place in the sound and rhythm of rock n' roll as we know today: "The rock n' roll that I know, which is a natural progression in the history of swing dance music. It goes from Benny Goodman to Chuck Berry and the piano playing -- which is what this band is based on, piano. And swing is a foundation. Y'know, Duke Ellington -- 'Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing'-- that's the same thing that Chuck Berry had."

On July 12th, 50 years to the day of the Rolling Stones' first gig, the band released the deluxe photo book, The Rolling Stones: 50. The tome, which is published by Thames & Hudson in Britain sells for around $48, and features 700 illustrations -- 300 of them in color -- most of which come from the archive of Britain's Daily Mirror, which reportedly has the largest collection of Stones photos.

In May, all four Rolling Stones -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts -- took to their website in an 18-second message to thank their legions of followers for reaching ten million Facebook friends. It wasn't much, but the video -- filmed in New Jersey -- showed that the band is indeed alive and well -- not to mention hard at work rehearsing, with a list of songs posted near Watts' drum kit.

The world premiere of the Rolling Stones' legendary unreleased movie Charlie Is My Darling - Ireland 1965 took place on September 29th at the 50th New York Film Festival in Manhattan. The band's early manager and producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, was in attendance. The "Super Deluxe Box Set" of the film was released in November, includes both DVD and Blu-ray discs featuring the new 2012 version of the film as well as the director's producer's cuts -- plus "significant unseen additional performance and other footage shot in Dublin and Belfast in September of 1965."

The bonus content in the collection features two CD's; one featuring the film's newly created soundtrack album, which includes live tracks, audio from the film, and orchestral versions of Stones tracks -- and the second featuring 13 live recordings the band recorded during their 1965 UK tour, which featured the Stones' original lineup -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman. Also included in the set is a 10-inch vinyl record of the live material, a 42-page hardcover book, along with a replica poster for the band's September 4th, 1965 Belfast date.

Keith Richards explained that back in the day the Stones realized that the road was littered with unbelievable talent that would never make it to the big time: "You'd pull up to some bar, and you'd (laughs) hear some of the most incredible pickers and band that you pass by in the night. You have a quick beer and a sandwich and you're back on the road. At the same time, the guys in the back of the room are playing some hot, hot stuff, y'know? I mean, so you, eventually you get to know that there's loads of you out there -- not everybody's gonna become a star. Y'know, that's another trick and it has to do with timing more than anything."

The Rolling Stones welcomed former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor back on stage at their 50th anniversary kick-off concert at London's O2 Arena on November 25th. The show also featured guest spots by Jeff Beck and Mary J. Blige. Although Wyman and Taylor weren't onstage at the same time, the show definitely showed a small amount of nostalgia for the Stones, with the band tipping it's hat to the Beatles for the opening number by performing "I Wanna Be Your Man" -- which John Lennon and Paul McCartney finished for them in 1963 giving them their first Top 20 UK hit. The Stones followed it with a triple punch of '60s classics -- "Get Off My Cloud," "It's All Over Now," and "Paint It, Black" before settling into the set. Blige stepped up to sing the Merry Clayton part in "Gimme Shelter" and Jeff Beck joined the band for the 1969 Let It Bleed outtake, "I'm Going Down."

Bill Wyman made his first appearance with the Stones since June 27th, 1990 in Basle, Switzerland, sitting in on "It's Only Rock N' Roll" and "Honky Tonk Women." Taylor was featured on the band's 1969 classic, "Midnight Rambler" -- a cornerstone of the legendary shows he played with the band between 1969 and 1973. Although he hasn't played live with the band since sitting in with them on December 15th, 1981 in Kansas City, Missouri, he added new guitar work to the 2010 expanded reissue of Exile On Main Street.

Other highlights included the live debut of the new "One More Shot," Keith Richards' take on the Some Girls favorite "Before The Make Me Run," and a full choir joining the Stones onstage for "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which kicked off the encores. Amazingly, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was set to close the show, but went un-played when the Stones' concert ran too long.

Mick Jagger explains that every night on tour is a new crowd, which is all the more reason to always bring his 'A-game': "Oh, yeah, every night y'have to do your best to prove to yourself you've done your best for yourself, y'know? You set yourself a certain standard, y'know, that you wanna reach every night. And obviously some nights, really, you think, 'Oh, for some reason, that's better than normal.' You never want to dip underneath a certain level."

Keith Richards admits that he's amazed that people are still curious why the Stones even want to be performing at this stage of their lives: "Y'know, people, they go, 'Why're you still doing it at your age?!' 'Why not?!' Y'know, let's see, y'know, if someone can come along and take over the crown, or the mantle, or whatever -- cool. It wouldn't stop me from playing the music."

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