Yes, that’s Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from that rock band you might have heard about. But, what could these two rock stars have in common with a guy from the west side of Chicago, an entire ocean and half a continent away?
Flashback to the mid-1950’s. In case you don’t remember those years, we listened to music in those days, too. But, forget current listening habits. That was decades before the internet changed the world of music and everything else. In the mid 1950’s, if you wanted to listen to music you turned on your radio and tuned in your favorite disc jockey. The alternative was to play your own record player and your own record collection. Growing up on the west side of Chicago, this 15 year-old didn’t own a record player and couldn’t afford to buy new records when they came out so, I turned on my radio and tuned in to my favorite DJ’s.
The guys I hung around with in my teens stayed up late at night and dialed in to Jam with Sam and Rock with Rick on station WGES in Chicago. That was the ‘colored’ radio station, way over at 1390 on the AM dial. And, who were we listening to – Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry. The coolest rock and blues music in the world.
The following is excerpted from Ultimate Classic Rock, UCR: “Jagger, then 18, and Richards, 17, were both going to school. “In a town like Dartford, if anybody’s headed for London or any stop in between, then in Dartford Station, you’re bound to meet,” Richards said in Keith Richards: The Unauthorised Biography. “The thing about Mick and my meeting was that he was carrying two albums with him – Rockin’ at the Hops by Chuck Berry, and The Best of Muddy Waters. I had only heard about Muddy up to that point.
“Jagger was holding records, Richards was carrying his guitar and the two struck up a conversation about rock and blues on the train. On the way, Richards learned that Jagger had ordered the two albums directly from Chicago’s Chess Records, as they were unavailable in England. Excited by their talk, and wanting to hear the LPs, Richards invited Jagger over for tea that afternoon.”
So, it turns out that Mick and Keith were listening to the same music as I was in the 1950’s. Long before the internet, the world shrank for us teens through the magic of music.
Thought you might enjoy this video from 22 November 1981 when the Rolling Stones visited the Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago to see and sit in with Muddy Waters.