It's only Rock'n'Roll (but they still like it )

As the Rolling Stones announce their latest world tour, Peter Blake says they remain the hottest ticket on Earth
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The Independent Culture

Mick Jagger lived about 50ft away from me in Dartford when we were growing up. So, we are both honoured sons of the town: I have a library named after me and he has a leisure centre named after him. I'm about 10 years older than him, but I knew him and Keith as kids on the estate.

Mick Jagger lived about 50ft away from me in Dartford when we were growing up. So, we are both honoured sons of the town: I have a library named after me and he has a leisure centre named after him. I'm about 10 years older than him, but I knew him and Keith as kids on the estate.

I then moved away to go to the Royal College of Art, but I saw them again at what I'm convinced was the first gig they played in London. I had a friend who was in a rhythm and blues band and the Stones were supporting them. They had come down from Dartford in a van.

There were about 20 people there. After the rhythm and blues band had played, there was an interval and we all went to the pub. We rather lost track of time, and we can't have been very excited about seeing the Stones. When we came back, there were only four people left. I think I caught the last song so it was hard to tell how good they were. I got no sense of how big they would become from that gig, but soon afterwards I started going to their performances at The Marquee. I've seen them many times over the years; I went to see them play Wembley last year and I hope to catch a date of their forthcoming tour. But my favourite concert is probably one of those they gave at The Marquee.

The atmosphere was fantastic and we were all young. It's very hard to put my finger on which of their songs I love the most, but it is probably "Brown Sugar". If you'd asked me five minutes ago, I would probably have said something else.

They are now grand masters of rock'n'roll. Their generation rewrote the rules, so you can't tell them when to stop touring. There's no more reason for them to retire from music, as there is for me to retire from painting. If I can still paint and they can still leap into the air, we should both carry on.

Of course, the original Stones line-up is no more. But what does that matter? The Who continue to tour even though the original band are not all still with us. And why not? If only one member of a band is still alive, it may be time to consider calling it a day. But, as long as Keith and Mick can still do it, the Rolling Stones can go on. I think they have grown with age so until they actually collapse, they will just get better and better.

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