The Rolling Stones Play Their First Ever Gig

On a hot summer’s night on July 12, 1962, at London’s Marquee Jazz Club, The Rolling Stones played their first-ever gig.

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Rolling Stones On Ed Sullivan
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When did the Rolling Stones play their first gig? Well, the story begins in the summer of 1962. Blues Incorporated, Alexis Korner’s band had a regular Thursday night gig at the Marquee Club in London’s Oxford Street. In the first week of July, Korner was offered a spot on BBC Radio’s Jazz Club, which didn’t go down well with Harold Pendleton, the man who ran the Marquee’s. Pendleton issued a blunt ultimatum: “If you leave this Thursday to do the broadcast, I will not guarantee your gig the Thursday after.”

Korner had a plan. He asked his friends and acolytes, Mick Jagger, Ian Stewart, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones to deputize for him at the Marquee. Having secured the gig, Mick Jagger’s first-ever utterance in the press was carried by Jazz News: “I hope they don’t think we’re a Rock ‘n Roll outfit..”

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There was also the small matter of what the band should call themselves. According to Dave Godin, a friend from Kent, where Mick and Keith grew up, “I was there when they decided on the name, and there is no way that it came from the Muddy Waters 78 “Rolling Stone Blues.” No one would be seen dead with 78s, we exclusively had 45s and 7″ EPs. I had the Muddy Waters “Mississippi Blues” EP on London that includes “Mannish Boy” which has the interjection ‘Ooo I’m a rollin’ stone’.” Not everyone liked the name, particularly Ian Stewart, “I said it was a terrible name. It sounded like the name of an Irish Show Band, or something that ought to be playing at the Savoy.”

Jazz News previewed the first Rolling Stones gig as such: “Mick Jagger, R&B vocalist, is taking an R&B group into the Marquee tomorrow night, while Blues Incorporated do their Jazz Club gig. Called The Rollin’ Stones. The line-up is: Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards & Elmo Lewis (guitars), Dick Taylor (bass), Ian Stewart (piano), & Mick Avory (drums). A second group under Long John Baldry, will also be there.”

Mick Avory, who later joined the Kinks, didn’t attend the gig on July 12, 1962, and no one can seem to recall if there even was a drummer – it would be six months before Charlie Watts was finally persuaded to join.

According to the handwritten set list, among the numbers they performed were songs by their heroes Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino like “Kansas City,” “Confessin’ The Blues,” “Bright Lights Big City,” “Down The Road A Piece,” and “Dust My Broom.” Whether the Stones actually played them we’ll never know, but it gives us a fascinating insight into what they were listening to and rehearsing.

On the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first gig, Mick Jagger gave an interview with Rolling Stone in 2012 saying, “Still the same name. It’s only Keith and myself that are the same people, I think. I’ve tried to find out when Charlie’s first gig was, and none of us can really remember and no one really knows. But it’s an amazing achievement.”

Listen to all of the songs that were covered at the Rolling Stones’ first gig.



  1. Larry marion

    July 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    What you tell us about where this photo came form and who took it? Would love to see and know more…

  2. angelo

    July 13, 2014 at 12:40 am

    beautiful ,

  3. Lance D. Link

    July 13, 2014 at 2:35 am

    It just goes to show You!? It’s like a family, sometimes You don’t get along but there all You have that You can hopefully TRUST?
    Damien Thorn

  4. peter harding

    July 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I was there that night at the marquee in wardour st wi great night as always went to blues inc but no show first time I heard them better than the beatles

    • Toni

      July 13, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      FAR OUT! How wonderful to have this memory.
      I love to communicate with you. Can you see my email and make contact? I live in Portland, OR USA

    • Philip Covin

      April 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      The Marquee was still on Oxford Street at the time of the Stones’ first gig. It had not yet moved to the later Wardour St location.

  5. Bill Van Iden

    July 13, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Mick Avery? And he didn’t show…funny.

  6. Alan Walsh

    July 14, 2014 at 6:23 am

    I wasn’t there that night but I had friends who raved about it. My best mate had a cousin who joined the Rollin’ Stones shortly after, Bill Wyman. My mate Mick and I went to the Crawdaddy club to see a performance, by this time, Brian Jones had joined them and according to Bill, they were becoming more polished and professional. We managed to book them for our end of year concert (Chiswick Polytech) and even by the time it came around, the Stones were getting a huge amount per performance, they still appeared for the original agreed sum of 60 Quid.


      July 12, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      What do you mean, “by this time Brian had joined them”? By all accounts Brian was performing on stage the first time Mick & Keith saw him under the name Elmo Lewis. He told them he was forming a band and asked them if they wanted to join. Bill wasn’t at the first gig according to this article. Your statement doesn’t seem to make sense. ???

    • Richard McManus

      July 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Alan Walsh your memory of the bands formation disposes of the notion that Brian Jones started the band. Will you please write back with more?

    • John Garbarzyk

      July 12, 2019 at 8:49 am

      According to a contract that was sold at auction several years ago they actually received a fee of £150 for this show (which took place at the Richmond Athletic Club in November, 1963). Perhaps they renegotiated their fee due to their increased popularity.

  7. Alan Walsh

    July 14, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Elmo Lewis = Brian Jones

  8. juanita j.

    April 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    The Rolling Stones ARE the GREATEST rock’n’roll band in the WORLD ! ! !

  9. Richard McManus

    July 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Sorry, didn’t see subsequent comments.

  10. Tony Richards

    February 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Brian Jones placed an ad in Melody Maker which Stu saw and responded to. They spent 15 minutes arguing about what key ‘Blues before Sunrise’ should be played in then arranged to hook up. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment of conception. I know, I was with Stu at the time.

    • Robert J Weingartner

      July 15, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Brian supposedly put the ad in ‘Jazz News’ magazine.

  11. Del

    May 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

    When they played EEL PIE ISLAND I’m sure they were called something else?

  12. Robert J Weingartner

    July 15, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Mick Avory states that he never played this gig with the Stones. He claims he only rehearsed with them. He intended on playing with them but his old band got back together so he left the Stones, but it was too late to change the lineup in the advert so his name was mentioned as being the drummer at the first gig. Mick told my friend he believes it was Tony Chapman who played drums at the July 12th gig.

  13. Brian

    March 19, 2019 at 3:06 am

    This article is a disgrace and misrepresentation of history. Brian Jones founded the Stones and got their gigs. He also named the band yet you scumbags, like the Glimmer Twins, ignore his talent and place in history. I will find my music history in something besides your distortions of history.

  14. Henry

    July 13, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    This was 2 o’ clock pm.
    The same day i was born four hours sooner…

  15. jayne hollander

    July 13, 2022 at 3:33 am

    you are not playing it

  16. Chris Bailey

    July 12, 2023 at 2:01 pm

    It actually took The Rolling Stones exactly another year to play a gig outside of Greater London, this when they drove 240 miles up the main A.1 highway in a beat-up van to the grimy, northern industrial-town of Middlesbrough. There, on Saturday July 13th 1963, they appeared in a tiny basement teen-club called ‘The Outlook’ where they shared the stage with another little-known band from Manchester called ‘The Hollies’.

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