The Rolling Stones were strongly influenced by Chicago blues and early R&B music. The band’s name was taken from a Muddy Waters’ song because they had great respect for Muddy Waters, who played on a live performance with them before his death on 30th April 1983.

When they were on tour in North America during the 1960s and 1970s, the band members conducted pilgrimages to various historic recording studios known for their deep Soul, R&B and Blues classics and in the process actually recorded several classic sides of their own. The first significant stop was at the Chess studios in Chicago on May 10th 1965, where they recorded four tracks for their “Out of Our Head” gold album (certified half a million copies sold), their first for the USA market, which included their first transatlantic hit, a song co-written by Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richard and produced by their former manager Andrew Loog Oldham, entitled “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

The song achieved gold status in the UK for one million singles sold and reached UK Pop number one on 9th September 1965 (2 weeks). This success was repeated in the USA, where the song reached number one on the Billboard Pop chart singles listing (before the UK single was actually released by Decca Records) on 10th July 1965 (4 weeks) and received gold certification from the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) for over one million singles sold

Out of the Chess Studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the band achieved additional success with their first Pop number single on the UK Pop singles on 16th July 1964, entitled“It’s All Over Now” (written by Bobby Womack and Shirley Jean Womack) The parent album “12×5” was number 3 on the Billboard Pop Album Chart listings for over 38 weeks and certified gold for over half million units sold in USA.

The next stop on their pilgrimage was at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio 1. This studio became famous for several million-sellers including those by the Staple Singers and Johnnie Taylor (from Stax Records). The Stones decided to produce their next album on their own imprint, Rolling Stones Records, after the recording contract with Decca Records expired. This project was distributed by Atlantic Records USA. The first single released under the corporate agreement was “Brown Sugar” recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals in December 1969. The single went to USA Pop number one for two weeks on 29th May 1971, and achieved gold status in the process for over one million copies sold. The album “Sticky Fingers”( Rolling Stones 59100) did extremely well, obtaining certified gold status in 1971 for half a million copies sold in America, the fifteenth gold album in succession for the group in the USA, since their first gold album in 1964, entitled “England’s Newest Hits Makers/The Rolling Stones” ( London 375).

Thom Bell working with Elton John and Joss Stone:


Elton John’s corporate alliance with Sky Sport television has produced a UK football Premiership commercial, using a single dating from 1977, when it was produced by Thom Bell for the album entitled “Thom Bell Sessions”, supported by a multi-racial studio band consisting of Bobby Eli (guitar), Bob Babbitt (bass), Tony Bell (guitar, background vocals), Thom Bell (piano, keyboards, conductor, arranger and producer), M F S B (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother orchestra), Charles Collins (drums), Larry Washington (percussion), with additional background vocals provided by Bill Lamb, Carla Benson, Evette Benton, Barbara Ingram and The Detroit Spinners. Bell taught John how to breathe more effectively while singing, further enhancing the singer’s extraordinary gifts and talents. This particular single featured on the project was entitled “Are You Ready For Love?”, which peaked on the UK Pop single chart at number one, occupying that position for two weeks in August 2004. The track also reached number one on the US billboard dance chart listings for one week. Out of that same project Elton obtained a gold single certification for one million copies sold for “Mama Can’t Buy You Love “ (co-written by Leroy Bell and Casey James, a black and white song-writing team). The single peaked at number one on the US Pop Adult Contemporary charts on 25th August 1979 for one week and received a Gammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1979. 

In 2004, Thom Bell repeated his success yet again by collaborating with  Joss Stone on her multi-platinum album “Mind, Body & Soul”, which debuted at number one on the UK Pop album charts in 2004. He conducted the string arrangement on the track “Spoiled”, which sees Stone co-writing with the legendary Lamont Dozier and his son Beau Dozier. The legendary Miami R&B rhythm section, consisting of Timmy Thomas (organ), Willie “Little Beaver” Hale (guitar) and Benny Latimore (keyboards, piano), played on this session at the famous Hit Factory/Criteria Studios, where Aretha Franklin recorded her “Young Gifted and Black” gold album in the early 1970s, co-produced by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, the same producers as on the late Dusty Springfield’s album “Dusty In Memphis”.

Such projects continue to reawaken people’s interest in good quality Soul and R&B music.