The blues songs The Rolling Stones played at their first-ever gig

Mick Jagger shuffled around backstage at the Marquee Club on July 11, 1962. For days, he had been too anxious to eat healthily. He hardly has anything left to support his lifeless body. If he swallowed a dinner plate, the butterflies in his stomach would hold it up for a moment, but then it would drop right out the other end like a penny in a broken vending machine. This isn’t only because The Rolling Stones are playing their first concert; it’s also because they’re making their debut at the infamously pretentious Marquee Club.

Worse, when the venue’s managers went backstage to see how the small children, jittery from the pre-show, were doing, they made things worse. They appeared to be stylish nomads. This grungy, somewhat trippy mix would instantly turn off the traditional jazz purists in the lounge, who were all dressed as Jack Kerouac had just landed a modeling contract with Marks & Spencer. And now the Stones were being told as much.

The young people from the middle class were suddenly waking up to the reality of rock ‘n’ roll. They had been so encouraged so far by their love of the blues and early successes like The Beatles that they hardly even considered the possibility that they couldn’t just go out there, show off their unadulterated fucklessness and enthusiasm for R&B, and have the world open up to them. Thus, in a style appropriate for the band we know today, they took their first audacious step in a long time and just doubled down, refusing to alter, and making their way onto the stage early to tune in front of the crowd in an unprofessional manner.

Their commander, Brian Jones, has always carried off this audacity with a cunning flair. He had been a bit of an oddball at his grammar school as a child because of his asthma and croup, but he enjoyed this role and stepped forward when the big times arrived. As his buddy Dick Hattrell from boyhood would remember, “He was a rebel without a cause, but when examinations came he was brilliant.”

He believed that The Rolling Stones’ success depended on them passing the biggest test of his life. Thus, he got his friends together, including Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ian Stewart, and other musicians, whose involvement is up for debate, like Elmo Lewis, Dick Taylor, and Mick Avory, and promised that they would go out there and give it their best.

When they started playing, the traditional jazz section of the audience started booing, making this call to arms even more crucial. Fortunately, there were those mods among them who were more receptive to the visceral vagabonds performing something fresh, for the sake of rock ‘n’ roll’s future. With all the delicacy of a police officer’s knock, they silenced the doubters and enthusiastically danced out their gratitude.

The room became violently divided as a result. The band continued, soaking it all in. They had barely enough time to start swinging thanks to fights and conflicts, and when the room calmed down, their sound was gradually building. With the same youthful vigor as the two who had inspired it, the band raced through “Kansas City” as a statement opener. Fittingly, the first song on this offending front was written by two teenagers back in 1952: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. These kids had been inspired to shape the future of rock when they raced home and wrote “Hound Dog” after seeing Big Mama Thornton blow their minds with a blues show for the ages.

The band blasted through “Baby What’s Wrong” as the mods and trads started fighting, then found their swing in the upbeat calm that followed Chuck Berry’s “Confessin’ The Blues.” The band, ecstatic to have made it through the renowned Thursday night slot at the Marquee Club, staggered out into the early hours of Friday morning, having played all 20 songs nonstop for a full ninety minutes. The clear summer air on Oxford Street practically stung their lungs in contrast to the smokey lounge they had just left, heaving it down with dizzy delight, and the ring of the second group, Long John Baldry, was still raw in their ears.

Even if they hadn’t won over everyone, the blues tunes listed below, penned on a setlist, had been received enthusiastically enough to guarantee their quick return.

What songs did The Rolling Stones play at their first gig?

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