The Day Mick Jagger and Keith Richards Met Again
Before they fell in love with the blues, before they started writing songs, before they formed one of the most famous bands in the world, Jagger and Richards rode tricycles together. “I can’t remember when I didn’t know him,” Mick told Rolling Stone in 1995. “We lived one street away; his mother knew my mother and we were at primary school together from 7 to 11. We used to play together, and we weren’t the closest friends, but we were friends.”
The future rock stars grew up in the town of Dartford, on the eastern edge of greater London. When the Richards family moved to a different neighborhood, Jagger and Richards went to separate schools and saw less of one another. They separately developed a love of rock ’n’ roll in their teenage years, with Jagger even forming a band. “I used to play Saturday night shows with all these different little groups,” he said. “If I could get a show, I would do it. I used to do mad things – you know, I used to go and do these shows and go on my knees and roll on the ground – when I was 15, 16 years old.”
Richards was aware of Jagger’s performances at the time, although the two ran in separate circles, with the studious Jagger attending the London School of Economics and the lackadaisical Richards going to Sidcup Art School, where he began playing guitar. Their paths would cross again on the morning of Oct. 17, 1961, on platform two of Dartford Train Station.
Jagger, then 18, and Richards, 17, were both going to school. “In a town like Dartford, if anybody's headed for London or any stop in between, then in Dartford Station, you’re bound to meet,” Richards said in Keith Richards: The Unauthorised Biography. “The thing about Mick and my meeting was that he was carrying two albums with him – Rockin’ at the Hops by Chuck Berry, and The Best of Muddy Waters. I had only heard about Muddy up to that point.”
Jagger was holding records, Richards was carrying his guitar and the two struck up a conversation about rock and blues on the train. On the way, Richards learned that Jagger had ordered the two albums directly from Chicago’s Chess Records, as they were unavailable in England. Excited by their talk, and wanting to hear the LPs, Richards invited Jagger over for tea that afternoon. Following the listening session, the budding singer invited the amateur guitarist to join his band, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which played songs by Eddie Cochrane, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.
The following year, Jagger and Richards would find a kindred spirit in Brian Jones and the three would form a new band, named for one of the songs on the two records that Jagger was carrying at the train station. With Muddy Waters’s “Rollin’ Stone” for inspiration, the new group became the Rolling Stones.
In February 2015, a plaque was unveiled marking the spot at Dartford Station where Richards and Jagger had their fateful meeting. “I hope that in the years ahead many thousands of rail passengers will enjoy looking at the plaque and realizing what a huge part the station played in bringing the Rolling Stones together,” Dartford Borough Council Leader Jeremy Kite said to mark the occasion.