The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in Dartford, Kent in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), and Charlie Watts (drums). Jones left the band less than a month prior to his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who left in 1975. Since then Ronnie Wood has been on guitar in tandem with Richards. Following Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has been the main bassist. Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued as occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Other notable keyboardists for the band have included Nicky Hopkins, active from 1967 to 1982; Billy Preston through the mid 1970s (most prominent on Black and Blue); and Chuck Leavell, active since 1982. The band was first led by Jones, but after teaming as the band's songwriters, Jagger and Richards assumed de facto leadership.
The Rolling Stones were in the vanguard of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964–65. At first noted for their longish hair as much as their music, the band are identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. They were instrumental in making blues a major part of rock and roll, and of changing the international focus of blues culture to the less sophisticated blues typified by Chess Records artists such as Muddy Waters, writer of "Rollin' Stone", the song after which the band is named. After a short period of musical experimentation that culminated with the poorly received and largely psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), the group returned to their bluesy roots with Beggars' Banquet (1968) which – along with its follow-ups, Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), and Exile on Main St. (1972) – is generally considered to be the band's best work, and are considered the Rolling Stones' "Golden Age". Musicologist Robert Palmer attributed the "remarkable endurance" of the Rolling Stones to being "rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music" while "more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone".