It couldn’t really be anyone but the Rolling Stones for the letter ‘R’. Not only were they around in my formative years but – against all odds – they’re still going strong, at least on the basis of their performance at Glastonbury in 2013. It’s one of my biggest musical regrets that I never got to see them live.
Originally, of course, they were contemporaneous with The Beatles, but whereas the latter, at least in the early years, projected the persona of lovable mop-tops, the Stones were down and dirty and much more challenging for an older generation. I loved them.
One comment that has stayed with me for many years that summarises the Stones as well as anything is a description of the intro to ‘Brown Sugar’: “Keith spits out the opening notes like they were broken teeth’. For vicarious rock ‘n roll excess there’s just nobody better.
In something of a contrast to the Stones, honourable mention goes to Roxy Music. Too often dismissed as poseurs, I think they are considerably under-rated as innovators: I’d certainly never heard anything like ‘Virginia Plain’ before.
There is also a sentimental attachment as I believe that the first concert the future Madame and I went to together was Roxy Music at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool (best guess: early 1973). They were very loud, which always works for me. I remember Brian Eno in a jacket with peacock feathers on the shoulders and Bryan Ferry in the outfit he’s wearing in this video of ‘Love Is The Drug’.