BBC Radio 6 Music Celebrates... 50 Years of The Rolling Stones
Working at BBC 6 Music brings many benefits. I get to work with really talented music loving radio people every day. Listening to new music is 'work'. And I get to meet my heroes. And none come bigger than Keef. Many people - my parents chief among them - would say I could have picked a better role model in life. But he's the reason I picked a guitar. And once I realised I was never going to make records that got played on the radio, I decided I could at least pick the songs that were played on the radio. So I'm where I am today because of Keef.
BBC 6 Music's Mike Hanson meets his hero "Keef"
I'm known for many things at 6 Music, but being The Rolling Stones office bore is the main one. For me all roads lead back to the Stones. Any time any of the programmes come up with a musical question or a new feature, I can always find a Stones example to contribute. Steve Lamacq wants to know what albums work just as well if you reversed the track listing? 'Some Girls,' I say.
So when we decided that the 6 Music Celebrates... theme for July would mark the 50th anniversary of the world's greatest rock n' roll band it was a no brainer that 6 Music's greatest Stones fan should programme it. Not going overboard was my only brief. Not an easy thing - to quote one of their greatest songs - 'I'm in need of some restraint!'
The Rolling Stones have a rich history as even their critics will acknowledge, and the BBC sound archive is brimming with brilliant content. So that's where we started. There are several documentaries, all well produced, but my favourite has always been The Rolling Stones Story by Alexis Korner, originally broadcast in the early 1970s. As I grew up in Canada I can't always share with my 6 Music colleagues memories of great BBC programmes that were broadcast in the 70s or 80s - except this one. The series was aired on a station in the US - probably an NPR station - and I remember my friends and I listening to it in September 1981, the night before we were going to travel over the border to the US to see the Stones for the first time. I taped as much of the series as I could and listened to it over and over again. If we ever lose the original tapes, no worries, as I have the whole thing memorised.
We also commissioned a new programme from a man who has an even better job than me - Paul Sexton, who beats my meeting Keef story by actually being in the great man's living room. Paul has interviewed all the Stones countless times over the past 25 years and he made us a wonderful programme of the band telling their history in their own words - The Stones by The Stones - built out of his own archive.
There are lots of other highlights over the month: Craig Charles will play funky cover versions like Otis Redding's version of Satisfaction, whilst Cerys will play some of the original blues songs the young Stones cut their teeth on in the early 60s. There will be live recordings from places like Leeds University in 1971 in our Classic Concert strand, and during the week of July 16, our Album of the Day from Monday to Friday will be a classic Stones album. Monday will be their exuberant debut, with the rest of the week featuring what we all agree are albums from their golden era: Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. I was tempted to pick an album from each decade but that would have meant favouring A Bigger Bang (decent effort though it is) over a true classic like Exile.
Leaving things out has been the hardest. Personally I would have included Some Girls. It was the first Stones album I bought and for a number of reasons, it is still my favourite. I wore out three vinyl copies in my teenage years.
Which leads me to the main element of BBC 6 Music Celebrates... 50 Years of The Rolling Stones: our search for your favourite Stones song of all time. As a massive Stones fan, people always ask me what my favourite song is. I respond, 'They're all my babies! How can I pick just one?' And how do you pick one song from a 50 year back catalogue of one of the most successful and influential bands ever?
Well, that's exactly what I'd like you to do. Not easy I know, but we've done the hard part and chosen a list of 50. Even doing that wasn't easy. Over lunch one day, just off the top of my head, I made a list of over 90 songs that deserved to be on any vote for the best Stones song. I won't say it's the top 50 but it does represent the fullness of their career from Not Fade Away to Rough Justice. Not everyone will agree with the list we came up with. I can hear 'What? You left off Moonlight Mile but included Love is Strong?' already. But while I agree that they're not as prolific or as creative now as they were 40 years ago, I see no point in surveying a career that has spanned half a century by focusing on a 5 year spout of genius. The voting opened during nowplaying@6Music on Sunday July 8 and closes Friday July 20. Steve Lamacq will reveal your top choice Friday 27 July.
#RollingStones50: Vote for your ultimate Rolling Stones track
Yes the Stones aren't what they use to be, but they will always be the greatest rock n' roll band in the world. They earned that title for keeps years ago. And their influence can still be felt today. For 6 Music, who contextualise new music by framing it firmly in musical heritage, there can be no better way to do this than by celebrating 50 Years of The Rolling Stones.
Highlights of the 6 Music Celebrates...The Rolling Stones season:
The Stones by The Stones - Paul Sexton introduces highlights from his illuminating trip through 50 years of The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones Story - Veteran bluesman Alexis Korner tells the fascinating story of The Rolling Stones in this six part series with contributions from the band including Mick Jagger and Ian Stewart.
Jagger's Jukebox - The Rolling Stones' frontman hand-picks a selection of artists and music that influenced the band's ground-breaking sound.
The First Time With Charlie Watts - In this rare interview with Matt Everitt, Charlie tells of his life as the least rock 'n' roll but always charming Stone.
The Live Music Hour -The Rolling Stones recorded live in session on 20th August 1965.
My Top 10 - Keith Richards - In a programme first broadcast in 1986, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones picks ten favourite records and talks to Andy Peebles about his life and work.
6 Music Classic Concert - The Rolling Stones, recorded live at Leeds University on their last tour before they left the UK back in 1971.
Now Playing @6Music - Tom Robinson invites listeners to compile their ultimate Stones-inspired playlist.
Bright Lights Big City (Tuesday 10th - Thursday 12th July, 12am to 12.30) - Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman takes a stroll down memory lane to look at the UK R&B scene.
Insight- The Rolling Stones' 1975 USA tour (Thursday 12th July, 4am) - 'What happens on tour, stays on tour' is not the case in this in-depth documentary of The Rolling Stones 1975 tour of America.
The Rolling Stones Story (Saturday 14th -Tuesday 17th July, 4am) - Bob Harris takes the lid off the longest running rock 'n' roll band in the world.
Shedding Hippie Blood - The Altamont Story (Friday 20th July - 4-7am)- Huey Morgan tells the story of The Rolling Stones' 1969 Let It Bleed tour, a milestone in rock history that defined an era and its tragic finale at the Altamont Speedway.
6 Music Classic Concert (Saturday 21st July , 2am-3am) - The Rolling Stones recorded live at Wembley Arena in 1990.
Classic Albums- Beggars Banquet (Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th July, 12am-12.30am) - Keith Richards discusses the 1968 release of The Rolling Stone's hit album Beggars Banquet with Roger Scott.
Exile of the Stones (Thursday 26th and Friday 27th July , 12am-12.30am) - Paul Sexton tells the tangled tale of one of the most celebrated albums in rock history, The Rolling Stones' epic Exile On Main Street.