Northern soul and R&B
As much as the Stones covered rock & roll and electric Chicago blues in their early years, the other great influence on their development was the burgeoning contemporary development of soul music. Soul music represented a commercialization of 1950s' rhythm & blues in an attempt to reach wider audiences. Especially in its Northern variants, the genre featured more urban themes and a greater smoothness in terms of production and delivery. As with similar contemporary developments in country music (the Nashville sound as opposed to honky tonk), the rougher and more rustic edges were being taken out.
The Stones were greater fans of Southern soul music, but they also covered
several artists that hailed from the northern cities.
SAM COOKE (1931-1964)
Although born in Mississippi, Cooke's brand of soul actually struck a middle-ground between black pop (the Drifters, Motown) and the gritty soul now being created by performers like Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett, and actually geared more towards the former. A tremendously gifted singer, Cooke was part of a gospel group in the 1950s before he had his first big pop hit with You Send Me in 1957. Afterwards, he was responsible, with other artists (the Drifters, for example), in making black music more accessible to white audiences by urbanizing the sound and cutting away rougher edges, while still retaining an R&B base.
In the early '60s, Cooke continued to have hits,
while also producing for other artists, such as the
Valentinos. Cooke was murdered in 1964. The Stones covered his Good
Times posthumously on their most "soulful" album, Out of Our Heads.
MARVIN GAYE (1939-1984)
Although signed in Detroit as part of the new
Motown factory, before he became a more suave soul artist, Gaye started
out as a more gritty R&B performer, who, signed by Motown, had hits
in the early '60s. Partly through necessity (they needed material), partly
through appreciation also, the Stones covered some of his early songs (Can
I Get a Witness?,
THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1954- )
R&B legends The Isley Brothers are one of the longest running groups in the music business, having gone through several generations of Isleys. Formed in Cincinnati, the group had its first hit with the lively Shout in the late 1950s, and followed that with Twist and Shout in 1962, covered with immense success by the Beatles the following year. One of their guitar players in these early days was the future Jimi Hendrix.
In the 1960s, the Isleys were briefly a Motown act, scoring a few hits on that label, before reinventing themselves as a funk-soul-rock group in the 1970s, scoring big with 1969's It's Your Thing. As the '70s wore on, the group adapted its style to disco, scoring many more R&B hits. They're still producing records today.
Like the Beatles, the Stones covered Twist
and Shout in their early days.
BARRETT STRONG (1941- )
An associate of Berry Gordy Jr., Barrett Strong helped Gordy establish Motown Records in the early 1960s with his 1960 R&B hit Money (That's What I Want). It was his only hit as a vocalist. Strong afterwards stuck to songwriting and collaborating with other Motown artists.
The song has the distinction of being one of the
few songs recorded both by the Beatles
and the Stones, the Stones' version featured on their first EP in 1964.
THE VALENTINOS (1961-1966)
All members of the Valentinos were part of the Womack family, including legendary and future Stones collaborator Bobby Womack. A Chicago group, they had a string of moderate hits playing a pre-soul type of R&B. The Stones' classic It's All Over Now was a remake of the Valentinos' single of the same year.
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