'Rock 'n' roll is not really meant to be played in a chair': The Rolling Stones, in Philadelphia this week

Juliard School of Music
The Rolling Stones will be playing in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center (Photo by KMazur/WireImage.com)

Back in April, before tickets went on sale to the two '50 & Counting'  Rolling Stones shows that will take place at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia tonight and Friday, I spoke with Mick Jagger on the phone.

I talked to the Knight of the Realm about a number of topics, from Margaret Thatcher to high ticket prices, which top out at $597 and have not sold out for the Philly show.  ("There are low prices, too," he said. "I think there are different prices for different pockets.") You can read the full conversation here. Use promo code X49T if you're not an Inquirer subscriber.

On this tour, the band has brought along guitarist Mick Taylor, who joined  after Brian Jones' death on July 3, 1969 and remained until 1974, playing on some of the Stones greatest albums (all produced by Jimmy Miller) including the decadent masterpeices Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main Street (1972).

I asked the 69 year old archetypal rock n' roll frontman if he had a favorite period in the Stones illustrious history, and if that was it. He was typically non-committal.  “Not really,” he said. “Actually, no. I can make one up for you if you want. When we started out, it was hilarious. Then it was pretty difficult. It was very hard to break out in America. Then when we did, in sort of ‘66 or so, it was really a fantastic time. … But I don’t really have a favorite.”

In their 51st year, the Stones are still wont to drop songs into their set by artists that they went to school on as teenagers in the London suburbs in the early 1960s, such as Chuck Berry's "Around and Around." I asked him if those original heroes still give him a thrill, and the conversation went in this direction.

"Oooh," he said. "I think I always like Little Richard, because he was a really energetic performer. I liked his records before I was with the Stones. I used to do songs that he did when I was a singer when I was kid. And I always like Muddy Waters, though he's a different kind of performer. But his records still hold up, really, as I do think Richard's records hold up. And some of the best of them have this fantastic energy to them.

"Which is part of what I think rock and roll is about. Energy. It jumps out at you, even if you haven't heard it for ages. I put it on in the studio and it just leapt out of the speakers, just amazing, some alternate take of Little Richard. And I think that James Brown was really a great performer and his music still stands up. Those people are really outstanding."

Richards has often talked about going out as his blues heroes such as Waters did, on a chair on stage till the bitter end. Mick sees it differently than Keith.

"He only did that because he got into a car crash," Jagger says of Waters, who died in 1983. "If you watched Muddy at Newport, he was all over the stage. . . . One remembers him, as Keith says, as the guy in the chair, but he really wasn't that a lot of his career."

"But you know, rock-and-roll is different than the blues. It's not the same thing at all. Blues played in a chair is fine, but rock-and-roll is not really meant to be played in a chair."

Stones tickets are available at ComcastTix here. A version of Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain" from 1972 is below. 

Previously: Betcha By Golly Wow: A Thom Bell Playlist Follow In the Mix on Twitter