In the case of TV recordings, early programming in the 1950s was live and never recorded in the first place. The coming of videotape in the late 1950s allowed recording of programs, but at the BBC these were sometimes wiped altogether to save storage space or because of union demands to limit rescreening. Also, historical value was not realised until later. Both The Beatles’ and the Rolling Stones’ appearances on”Juke Box Jury”, for instance, which fans would kill to see today, are lost. Radio suffered less, though once put to air, recordings were usually stored and forgotten.

Such leading 1960s stalwarts as The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Kinks, Moody Blues and Ten Years After have all now released Live at the BBC” CDs, a trend that generally began in the 1990s. These add a welcome postcript to discographies that remain venerated but were apparently ended forever as groups broke up, or, in some cases, members died. The obvious missing act here is the Rolling Stones, who were, after all, second only to The Beatles in 1960s popularity.

Finally, half a century on, the Stones are joining the party, with a CD release due on December 1 this year, a DVD of newly discovered TV footage and this accompanying hardcover coffee-table book released in September. The book is the first in-depth history of the Rolling Stones through their TV and radio broadcasts, giving the background to the new DVD and Cd.

The CD, for instance, will compile their performances on BBC radio from 1963-1965, titled “On Air” and featuring 18 recordings from shows such as “Saturday Club”, “The Joe Loss Pop Show”, “Blues in Rhythm”, “Yeah Yeah” and “Top Gear”. A deluxe double-CD edition will have 14 bonus tracks.

One rare track, for instance, is “Cops and Robbers”, which, as Richard Havers notes in his book, was taped at the Camden Theatre, London, a typical music hall equipped by the BBC as a permanent studio, on March 19, 1964. It is the only known Stones recording of the song, and not only that but it was an early and experimental stereo recording. Compere Long John Baldry introduced the Stones, who were reviled by most parents in the UK, as “those charming deviationists”.

Thanks to bootleggers, collectors have been able to find much of this material over the years, but not always in the best quality. Even two CDs may not be enough to be comprehensive, so true fans will also need Havers’ book to cross-check what’s being released and what’s missing.

This new official book (sanctioned obviously, with the Stones’ cunnilingus tongue logo on the cover) tells the story, for the first time, of the Stones through their many radio and TV appearances as they struggled from obscurity to fame in the 1960s. It is a facet of their story that’s obviously been touched on in previous biographies but not in one specific volume. (An interesting sideline: also on the cover, Charlie Watts’ cigarette seems to have been airbushed out – compare it with the same photo on pages 132-133.)
Necessarily, the book also serves as an overall 1960s history of the Stones, it being impossible to separate the actual broadcasts from everything else that was going on around the group. And there was plenty: 1960s groups worked almost non-stop through never-ending tours and shows, squeezed-in recording sessions, interviews, photo shoots, and radio and TV appearances.

Havers takes a year-by-year approach from 1963 through to 1969. First in each chapter is a general summary of the year in pop land, then more specific articles on the Stones’ own doings, and finally a summary of selected TV and radio appearances by them that year.

In 1963, for instance, the Rolling Stones made their first TV appearance, on “Thank Your Lucky Stars!”, where the normally casually dressed band was seen buttoned up in matching hounds-tooth suits at manager Andrew Loog Oldham's insistence. By 1968 they had progressed to their own TV spectacular, “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus”, founder Brian Jones’ swan-song with the group. But it was shelved and went unseen and wasn’t released until 1996, the Stones apparently having been dissatisfied with their own performance as the recording dragged into the early hours. Havers pretty much wraps things up with the free show in Hyde Park in 1969, Mick Taylor’s live debut as Jones’ replacement, which was also filmed for broadcast.

The book features previously unpublished photos and facsimile documents from the BBC and commercial TV and radio archives. Comments by Jagger, Richards, Jones, Wyman and Watts accompany the text.

Brian Jones’ letter of January 2, 1963, hand-written to the BBC to seek an audition for the “Rollin’ Stones Rhythm and Blues Band” is reprinted. They got the audition but failed, then passed a second one after their popularity had grown.

Particularly interesting is a series of letters back and forth between one of the Stones’ managers (apologetic) and the BBC (not happy) after the band failed to show up for some contracted appearances. The manager took the blame and the row eventually blew over, though not before the Stones had faced a possible BBC ban.

The story is told of their appearance on “Juke Box Jury” in June 1964, a TV program in which guests judged the hit potential of new records. The Stones were generally negative, giving a boost to their anti-establishment image of ugly boorishness. Earlier, The Beatles also appeared on the program but both appearances are now lost after falling foul to the BBC’s thrifty habit of taping over shows.

In some cases, then, Richard Havers’ comprehensive book is the best we have left.

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