He’s not Lucifer. He’s Showbiz.

Ciao Tutti,

SO yesterday evening was the forth lecture of the British Institute’s centenary programme with the delightful Abby Rupp- the US Consul General in Florence- giving a passionate and energetic talk on her favourite band, The Rolling Stones.

Rupp’s talk covered the full history of the band: from the influences of Country, Funk/Disco and Blues on their music to their current lives, with Mick Jagger doing ballet daily, whilst Keith Richards’ muses how he will only be grown up when he’s “six feet under”!

Personally, I loved how interactive the talk was; Rupp played lots of The Stones’ tracks and then compared them to an extract of the original music they were crafted from. She also included some snippets from various live shows and interviews of the band- I assume everyone’s favourite being the clip from the Ed Sullivan show, where Mick mockingly rolled his eyes at the newly censored lyrics “Let’s spend some time together” (instead of the original “Let’s spend the night together”). 

Rupp highlighted this clip to reveal how Mick was ahead of his time by more than just his music. As well as being a pioneer of rock and roll, Mick Jagger had recognised the importance of the WIDER audience- choosing to direct his showman style towards the cameras, and thus the TV viewers, as opposed to the live studio audience.

The transition of concerts from being all about the vocals to becoming a performance in their own right was fundamental to The Rolling Stones’ success. They were the first band to build their own stage sets- something we regard as commonplace today- and Mick was working with costume designers and tailors from as early as 1969!!

But that’s not all the FAB Rolling Stones trivia Rupp shared with us…

  • Back in secondary school, Mick Jagger had a, theoretically life changing, basketball injury where he bit off the tip of his tongue. This altered its physical dimensions, resulting in the tougher, grittier voice SO recognisable today.
  • Despite media interference, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were actually friends, with The Beatles offering The Stones the track “I wanna be your man” believing it suited their genre and style more. BUT as Rupp said, the differences do remain with The Beatles being the “nice boys” who will hold your hand, whilst the Stones want to burn down your town!
  • And finally… the reason you can’t get your guitar sounding like Keith Richards’ is- debatably- not due to lack of talent but instead because he plays in open G tuning.

Everyone I spoke to after the talk had thoroughly enjoyed it. Mike expressed how it’s “the most compelling music you could possibly listen to” and Livy commented that Rupp had “reignited [her] passion for The Rolling Stones”. I 100% agree, and in fact I spent the rest of the evening listening to their music.

SO today’s idiom can be used to describe the stark comparison of The Stones with The Beatles:

Essere come il diavolo e l’acqua santa the translation is to be like the devil and holy water, the two dramatic extremes in Italian. This idiom definitely makes the point clearer than our delightfully meek equivalent phrase: to be like chalk and cheese

Thanks for reading! Now go listen to some Stones!!!!


Mills X


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