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JAGGER EDGE: Rolling Stones have defined rock `n' roll.

JAGGER EDGE: Rolling Stones have defined rock `n' roll.  

THERE WERE murmurs of Santana and Dire Straits coming to India after Sir Elton John came and conquered in his electric blue suit at Bangalore's Palace Grounds in November.

There was anticipation for the next rock act to hit town.

And the ones to set us rocking are the original bad boys of Rock `n' Roll, The Rolling Stones.

As part of the Asia leg of their 40th anniversary tour, "Licks," the Stones would be performing on April 4 in Bangalore and April 7 in Mumbai.

The Rolling Stones, who have defined rock `n' roll as much as any group for more than 35 years, insist, almost defiantly, that their creative vitality and, yes, their health are thriving.

Having become enormously wealthy as members of the most successful rock band in history they said they had no desire to settle down in their mansions.

Keith Richards, the Stones' legendary guitarist says, "This is not something you retire from. It's your life. Writing songs and playing is like breathing — you don't stop."

More than Richards, Charlie Watts (the band's quiet drummer) and the guitarist Ron Woods, who is 55, Mick Jagger is especially sensitive to the age issue.

Mick Jagger who famously said in his youth that he couldn't imagine singing Satisfaction, the Stones' signature song, at 30, is however still rocking at 59.

Joe Levy, the music editor of Rolling Stone, stressed that the Stones were still a powerful symbol. "In the `60s they stood explicitly for social change," he said.

"Their stance was political, even revolutionary. They no longer carry that message, but they still carry the underpinnings of it — live by your own rules, your own passions. They do what they want, when they want to do it."

He credited their uncommon endurance to Jagger and Richards. "Jagger ensured the Stones' longevity by managing their business affairs with an iron hand," he said. "Keith has ensured their longevity by stubbornly managing their music. Together they form this remarkable power."

With songs that helped define and stretch rock `n' roll, as well as Jagger's skills at prancing and preening to seduce an audience of stadium size — he was the first rock star to do so — the group seems unstoppable.

The lives of the Stones — especially Jagger's marriages and affairs — have threatened, at times, to overshadow their music.

But even after four decades, they seem intensely engaged in their work as musicians.

The Stones' absorption of the early rock canon is probably another reason for their longevity.

Jagger and the other members of the band mentioned many American rock `n' roll figures as significant models.

Jagger pointed in particular to Eddie Cochran (who died in 1960 at 22), as well as Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Elvis Presley.

"I just absorbed a lot of that music and I know it well," he said, adding Richie Valens and the Everly Brothers to the list for reasons that went beyond their work. "I mean they had such great hair — how did they do that?"

While the Beatles sang Eleanor Rigby and other songs with British backdrops, the Stones were decidedly more American. "I think that's the difference between us and the Beatles," Richards said.

"They were much more home grown. We were always looking out. It was the difference between Liverpool, which to a Londoner is very provincial, and London, where we came from." Wonder what would the die-hard Beatles fan have to say to that?

If Pink Floyd brought in psychedelics and lasers to their stage shows, the Stones embody sheer energy.

Michael Cohl, long-time Stones tour promoter commented, "This band have once again re-written the book on how to bring the ultimate rock `n' roll experience to thousands of fans. With a `Licks' show that exhilarates the senses and continues to break new ground, the Asian dates will be a great Stones celebration not to be missed."

The official web site rollingstones.com was unveiled in conjunction with the start of the Licks World Tour and brings fans unprecedented access to the day-to-day lives of the Stones and their entourage straight from the road.

Basic Fan Club Membership - included with every ticket sold for this tour - allows total entr�e into the Stones' online world.

The centre piece of the site and membership, Virtual Ticket features photos and journals from the road, exclusive audio and video feeds of interviews, rehearsals, sound checks, songs from concerts, access to extensive Stones archives, special advance notice of upcoming shows and ticket availability and members-only merchandise at the official store.

Coverage has included intimate video footage of band in the moments leading up to them stepping on-stage, "day-in-the-life" segments with the road crew as they discuss their specialization's and set up for the shows as well as interview footage from the backstage lounge with a host of celebrity Stones fans.

International Premium Fan Club membership offers fans around the world all of the features of Basic Membership as well as the opportunity to purchase Stones concert tickets in advance of the general public.

International Premium Membership also includes a complimentary Fan Club hat and a copy of Forty Licks, the 2-CD career spanning retrospective released in October 2002.

The Bangalore tickets are priced at Rs 1,500, Rs 900 and Rs 500 while the tickets for Mumbai is Rs 2,000, Rs 1,200, Rs 750 and Rs 500.

Tickets are available at Treasure Island Rd No 12 Banjara Hills (23323330).

Standard Chartered Credit Card Members call 24904309 for a special offer and free home delivery.

For further information call Debarati Karan at 040-55828123/5 or email at dkaran@genesispr.com

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