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Rolling Stones Band Members: Then and Now

Start them up! Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood prove they’re still rockin’ and rollin’ as strong as they were in their early years.

The Rolling Stones band members are getting ready to rock and roll on out on their 16-city 2024 tour throughout the U.S. and Canada in support of 2023’s Hackney Diamonds, their first album in 18 years. Fans can’t wait to catch Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and company strut their stuff again, and the fun is set to kick off on April 28 in Houston, Texas.

When asked by NPR if they wouldn’t just prefer to kick back and relax after 60-plus years of rocking fans’ faces, Richards replied, “We can put our feet up for a little bit, but…you’re into this thing all the way. This is what we do. We’ve gotta see this Rolling Stones through.” Besides, the energy the guys get from the crowds helps to keep the band young at heart. “Yeah man, I love it. It keeps me on my toes and keeps my fingers moving,” Richards noted. “And I’m still finding different ways of playing things. Even though you’re 80, believe me, it don’t stop.”

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The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones (2005) Scott Gries / Staff / Getty

Their commitment to the art of rock ’n’ roll is certainly not waning, even though the youngest member, Wood, is 76. “I said [to producer Andrew Watt], ‘Andy, I want it to be true to the school, you know. I want it to be like a Rolling Stones record, but it’s got to sound like it was recorded this year,’” Jagger, who, like Richards, is 80, told Canada’s Q With Tom Power podcast last year of Hackney Diamonds, explaining that the band wants to keep making waves with their music. “We don’t want it to sound like 40 years ago, and of course it doesn’t. It sounds like now.”

Among those contributing to the album’s fresh sound is Lady Gaga, who lends her voice to “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” which also features the timeless Stevie Wonder. “Playing with Stevie is always mind-blowing, and I thought that Lady Gaga did an incredible job, man,” Richards told Apple Music of the stirring gospel-tinged track. “She snaked her way in there and took it over and gave as good as she got with Mick, and it was great fun.”

Two men walking together
Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney (1967) Bettmann / Contributor / Getty

Other contemporaries make guest appearances, too, including Elton John, who plays piano on both “Live by the Sword” and “Get Close,” as well as Paul McCartney, who plays bass on “Bite My Head Off.” “The school boy! He was so happy,” Wood reports of the former Beatle‘s involvement, teasing, “He actually played on two tracks, one which we’ve got up our sleeve for, you know, more music to come because we cut about 23 songs and we only picked the first 12 [for Hackney].”

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As excited as the guys are for their new music, fear not: Their tour will not skimp on the hits their fans have been cranking up for decades. “We’re not gonna forget the back catalogue,” Wood promises. “There are certain songs, [like] ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ that have got to be played.”

Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones (1968) Mark and Colleen Hayward / Contributor / Getty

After all, the Rolling Stones band members may sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” but they want to deliver the best of the best from their seven-decade catalogue. “I’ve got a band that’s lasted longer than anybody else’s in the damn world,” Richards proudly states, and they’re still going strong. Here, a look at the members’ rock ’n’ roll pasts and presents.

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger
1965/2023 Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

Born Michael Philip Jagger in 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England, Mick found his passion early. “I always sang as a child. I was one of those kids who just liked to sing,” the rocker reveals in According to the Rolling Stones. “Some kids sing in choirs; others like to show off in front of the mirror. I was in the church choir and I also loved listening to singers on the radio…or watching them on TV and in the movies.”

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He played in a band as a teen, then in 1960 he caught back up with a childhood friend he’d lost touch with — Keith Richards — and the duo went on to help form The Rolling Stones within a few years. Along with the mega success he’s achieved with the band, Jagger’s also released multiple solo albums, including 1985’s She’s the Boss, 1987’s Primitive Cool, 1993’s Wandering Spirit, and 2001’s Goddess in the Doorway. He’s branched out into acting as well, appearing in films such as 1968’s Performance and 1970’s Ned Kelly. There have also been a few hilarious pop-ins to Saturday Night Live, with his most recent star turn bringing down the house late last year.

Mick Jagger performing
Mick Jagger (2017) Brian Rasic / Contributor / Getty

Offstage, Jagger is the father of eight children ranging in age from 53 (daughter Karis) to as young as 7 (his son Deveraux, who he had with partner Melanie Hamrick, a 37-year-old choreographer). To stay on his toes for both parenting a preteen and his coming tour, Jagger makes sure to stick to a fitness regime.’ He’s even released his exercise workout playlist on Apple Music earlier this year to inspire others.

“Sometimes I like to exercise in silence, other times I like to be in the gym with Mozart, but most of the time I enjoy exercising to music like this,” he’s said of the playlist, which includes tunes from Daft Punk, the Human League, Prince and even Burna Boy, among others. He included some of his own solo songs as well as some featuring his fellow Rolling Stones band members, such as “Mess It Up” and “Living in a Ghost Town (Alok Remix).”

The ageless frontman also had some fun showing off how energetic he still is on Instagram in late March, proudly dancing as a band played Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” “Moves like who?” he playfully asked in his joyous post.

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Keith Richards: Rolling Stones band members

Keith Richards
1964/2023 Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty // Cindy Ord / Staff / Getty

Keith Richards is one of the original Rolling Stones band members and one of the most iconic. As an adolescent, Richards once sang in a Westminster Abbey choir that performed for Queen Elizabeth II, and he was classmates for a bit with Mick Jagger. “Mick was very, very bright, and I was very dumb. So Mick went into grammar schools, and I went to a technical school. I needed to learn a few things,” the guitarist told NPR, adding that they reconnected in their late teens. “[We] found out that we … both loved the same music and were both passionate about it. And that’s the Stones, baby.”

His solo albums have included 1988’s Talk Is Cheap, 1992’s Main Offender and 2015’s Crosseyed Heart, though he’s noted he was hesitant to do them. “In the back of my mind, doing a solo record meant a slight sense of failure. The only reason I would do a solo album was because I couldn’t keep the Stones together,” he told Rolling Stone about a period when Jagger was off exploring his own solo career.

Keith Richards playing guitar
Keith Richards (1989) Paul Natkin / Contributor / Getty

The father of five’s struggles with drugs and addictions have made headlines through the years, but Richards has been embracing life without the hard stuff most recently. “The cigarettes I gave up in 2019, I haven’t touched them since,” he told The Telegraph late last year. “I gave up heroin in 1978. I gave up cocaine in 2006. I still like a drink occasionally … but apart from that, I’m trying to enjoy being straight. It’s a unique experience for me.” 

In December, the musician celebrated his 40th anniversary to model Patti Hansen, with whom he has two children, and in March he released a cover of Lou Reed’s “I’m Waiting for the Man,” which will be on the upcoming Reed tribute album The Power of the Heart. Richards will also be seen in the upcoming documentary Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg, about the late Italian model who once was his common-law wife, with whom he had three kids. “Anita is in a lot of those songs,” he reveals in the film, which is due to premiere in May.

Brian Jones

Brian Jones
1963/1968 Chris Ware / Stringer / Getty // Mark and Colleen Hayward / Contributor

This original Rolling Stones band member is credited with founding the group in 1962 as well as giving them their name, getting his inspiration from a Muddy Waters song called “Rollin’ Stone.” The son of two parents who played piano, young Jones developed a love of jazz and blues music and played clarinet while in school, picking up the saxophone and guitar later in his teens.

His guitar playing skills helped the Stones create a unique sound, but Jones eventually found his role being diminished in the group as Jagger’s and Richards’ influence started to rise. Jones’ drug problems also caused friction with his bandmates, and he was eventually asked to leave the band in 1969. He was found dead in a pool a month later, at the age of 27.

Brian Jones playing guitar; Rolling stones members
Brian Jones playing guitar Icon and Image / Contributor / Getty

Last year, filmmaker Nick Broomfield released The Stones & Brian Jones, a documentary that has recently begun streaming on Hulu. “I think when he formed the Stones, he was by far the most musically advanced,” Broomfield told Decider, “[but] he was very insecure about his abilities.… What I’d like people to take away from the film is that Brian was a complicated guy, full of excess, full of talent, and a certain amount of beauty.”

Bill Wyman: Rolling Stones band members

Bill Wyman; Rolling stones members
1969/2021 Evening Standard / Stringer / Getty // Dave Benett / Contributor / Getty

Now 87, Bill Wyman — born William George Perks, Jr. in 1936 — was the bass player for the Rolling Stones from 1962 through 1993. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with his bandmates in 1989 and played on the group’s first 19 albums.

He started out as a bookkeeper upon leaving school as a teen, and he also served in the Royal Air Force for a few years, a time during which he discovered rock ’n’ roll and fell in love with it, learning guitar and bass as he experimented with the new genre. Upon hearing of an audition in 1962, he soon landed with the Stones as their bassist, replacing Dick Taylor.

Though his departure from the Stones in 1989 didn’t go over well —“It was quite stressful and they didn’t want me to leave,” he recently told Classic Rock, adding that “they became bitchy” — he says egos have cooled through the years. “Keith still sends me scented candles at Christmas. We all send each other birthday and Christmas presents. It’s still a family thing, social not business, and it works really well.”

Bill Wyman sitting; Rolling stones members
Bill Wyman (1984) Dave Hogan / Contributor / Getty

In his post-Rolling Stones days, he’s played and toured with his own band, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, who, in 2007, played with Led Zeppelin for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at London’s O2 arena. More recently, in October 2023, he released an illustrated memoir of his childhood called Billy in the Wars, detailing his younger years growing up in wartime Britain and surviving the Blitz.

There was also a reunion with his old bandmates for Hackney Diamonds, the first time he’s recorded with them in 30-plus years. “We asked Bill to come into the studio, and he came and did one track [‘Live by the Sword’], so the original Rolling Stones rhythm section is on one track,” Jagger revealed during a press event, noting that founding drummer Charlie Watts had recorded two tracks for the album before his death in 2019.

Wyman, a father of five, remains happy with the choice to head out on his own. “Not for a second have I regretted leaving,” he’s told The Times. “Within two years of leaving I was married to Suzanne [Accosta]. We’ve been married for 30 years, we have three beautiful daughters, it couldn’t be better.”

Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts; Rolling stones members
1966/2018 Icon and Image / Contributor / Getty // Mark Runnacles / Stringer / Getty

The London native was born in 1941, the son of a Royal Air Force service member and a homemaker. At a young age, Watts was given a banjo, but he grew frustrated with playing it so he removed its neck and turned it into a snare drum. It’s an instinct that would serve him well after he graduated art school and was playing drums for various bands while he made his living as a graphic artist in the advertising industry.

The newly formed Rolling Stones had heard of his reputation and just had to have him join their band. As Keith Richards recalled in his 2010 autobiography, the rock group knew they had to ante up to lure him and his jazz and R&B skills away from his other musical commitments. “We starved ourselves to pay for him! Literally. We went shoplifting to get Charlie Watts,” Richards revealed.

Not one for the fanfare of fame, Watts instead poured his energy into not only the Stones’ music, but their merchandise, stage design and album art, calling upon his studies and years of work as a graphic designer. Though he stayed relatively clean and escaped the trappings of the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle during the Stones’ heyday, he did have a battle with addictions later in life, during his 40s, though he quit cold turkey after he injured himself while under the influence.

Charlie Watts playing drums; Rolling stones members
Charlie Watts (1981) Gary Gershoff / Contributor / Getty

He always tried to balance the Rolling Stones’ rock output with multiple side jazz projects, as that genre was his true musical love. Though he’d successfully battled throat cancer in 2004, another undisclosed health issue caused him to back out from touring with the Stones in 2021. “For once my timing has been a little off,” the revered percussionist said in a statement at the time, noting he was working hard to “get fully fit.”

But he never did, passing away that August at the age of 80, leaving behind his wife, fellow artist Shirley Ann Shepherd; daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte. Sadly, Shirley would pass away in December 2022, less than a year and a half later. “Reunited now forever with her beloved Charlie,” her family noted in a statement.

“The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have,” Jagger told Rolling Stone of his late bandmate in 2021. “We had some really nice conversations in the last couple of years about how all this happened with the band. It’s a huge loss to us all. It’s very, very hard.”

Ronnie Wood: Rolling Stones band members

Ronnie Wood; Rolling stones members
1974/2023 Mark Sullivan / Contributor / Getty // Dave Benett / Contributor / Getty

As his website puts it, Ronnie Wood “[descended] from a long line of traveling barge people…in a lively musical and artistic West London household.” His dad played harmonica, and his two older brothers were musicians as well, and they helped him secure his first guitar at the age of 14. He later would drop out of Ealing Art College to join a local band called The Birds, then in 1967, he landed with the Jeff Beck Group, playing bass.

Stints in various other bands followed, as did solo efforts, including 1974’s I’ve Got My Own Album To Do and 1975’s Now Look, which featured cameos from the likes of George Harrison, Rod Stewart, and (guess who!) Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. “I used to run home from school to watch the Stones on TV. Right from when I was at college I wanted to be in that band,” Wood later recalled of the thrill of collaborating with his bandmates, whom he’d formally join in 1976 to fill in for the departing Mick Taylor.

Ronnie Wood; Rolling stones members
Ronnie Wood (2018) Harry Herd / Contributor / Getty

More solo efforts came throughout his tenure with the band, as well as side projects like the New Barbarians (which Richards also was a part of). When not jamming with Jagger and Richards, Wood continues to flex his artistic talents. He even has his own online art store that displays curated works and sells his sketches and paintings, including colorful set lists he’s designed.

Wood, the author of a handful of books (including a 2007 autobiography), has also successfully battled through some health scares of his own. “I’ve had cancer two different ways now,” he told The Sun in 2021. “I had lung cancer in 2017 and I had small-cell more recently that I fought in the last lockdown.”

Additionally, there have been eight stints in rehab, and he’s grateful for all of the chances he’s been given through the years. He and his third and current wife, Sally Humphreys, have twin girls — Gracie and Alice — who turn 8 in May. He also has four other children from previous marriages.

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