The Rolling Stones are something, a band with a great lineup and what’s also incredible to see is the musicians who almost joined the band, but were famous in their own right. As someone who really loves to make connections between things and see the patterns, I always love seeing the connections between all the different rock bands of the time and how they knew each other and when they crossed paths. It really is a small world in classic rock after all!
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about five famous musicians who almost joined the Rolling Stones. Of course, there are many stories out there of people who almost got famous, but in this one, I want to look at these icons who almost were in one of the most iconic classic rock bands.
Dick Taylor – guitarist, The Pretty Things
The Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones were basically from the same place and they knew each other early on. The bands had a rivalry of sorts, both being rock bands from the same place who were very influenced by R&B. Fun fact, The Rolling Stones got The Pretty Things banned from Ready Steady Go.
Here’s where you can see the connections: Dick Taylor, Phil May, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards were all born in the same hospital: Livingstone Hospital in Dartford, Kent. Mick Jagger and Dick Taylor were classmates at Dartford Grammar School. Keith Richards, Dick Taylor, and Phil May all went to Sidcup Art College, where both bands were formed. The Rolling Stones were formed with Mick Jagger, Dick Taylor, and Keith Richards’ band merged with Brian Jones and Ian Stewart’s band. They took on Brian Jones’ band name The Rolling Stones.
While at Sidcup Art College before forming The Pretty Things, Dick Taylor was in an early lineup of The Rolling Stones, playing bass. He left the band and formed The Pretty Things since he preferred playing guitar and wanted to go back to art school.
Paul Jones – lead singer, Manfred Mann
Before he was famous, he performed duets as P.P. Jones with Elmo Lewis (AKA Brian Jones) at the Ealing Club. When Keith Richards and Brian Jones decided to join forces and form The Rolling Stones, they asked Paul Jones to be the lead singer and he turned them down for Manfred Mann. He stayed with Manfred Mann until 1966, when he decided to go solo and act in movies and plays – notably starring in the movie Privilege with model Jean Shrimpton. Later on, he reunited with Manfred Mann bandmates and started touring again as The Manfreds.
Mick Avory – drummer, The Kinks
Before joining The Kinks in January 1964, Mick Avory almost joined The Rolling Stones. While he never played a proper gig with them, he rehearsed with them at the Bricklayers Arms pub in London. He stayed with The Kinks until 1984, but the relationship with the band didn’t end and he continues to manage Konk Studios. He also toured with quite a few other British Invasion musicians in the 90s. He was known as the masculine one in The Kinks and drag queens really liked him. However, he loved picking fights with Dave Davies and sometimes it would get physical with him throwing objects. At one concert in Wales, he knocked him out with either a cymbal or drum pedal and ran away and hid.
Rory Gallagher – guitarist, formerly of Taste
One of the best guitarists of all time nearly joined The Rolling Stones? It’s true! Could you imagine that? Anyway, The Rolling Stones had a couple of guitarists after Brian Jones left the band: Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood. In 1975, when Mick Taylor left The Stones, they were auditioning different guitarists and Rory Gallagher was one of them and went over to jam with them a couple of times, but turned down joining The Rolling Stones because he was happy with his solo career. Rory Gallagher would constantly tour and record music, that was his life: he didn’t have a long term girlfriend or a family. His love was music. He didn’t care about being part of a big band, he just wanted to do his own thing.
Steve Marriott – singer/guitarist, Small Faces and Humble Pie
Steve Marriott was one of the best frontmen in classic rock and probably one of the least talked about of the top tier of lead singers. He was not only in one, but two successful rock bands: the Small Faces and Humble Pie. Other rock bands definitely saw the 5’4″ powerhouse as a threat – stylish, charismatic, captivating, incredible voice. In 1975, Steve Marriott was also considered to replace Mick Taylor, but he upstaged Mick Jagger in the audition. He was Keith Richards’ first choice to replace Taylor. After that, Steve Marriott reunited with Ronnie Lane and recorded some music, but in later years he got really disillusioned with the music industry and record labels and was worried he’d be ripped off again like he was in the Small Faces and Humble Pie.
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