Watch vintage British Pathé footage of The Rolling Stones in 1964

British Pathé footage is a thing of beauty. It seems that the height of dry comedy came from the era of grainy footage and gentlemanly voiceovers. As the man with the bygone timbre proclaims when describing future rock greats, The Rolling Stones, “just another lot of hitchhikers.” This thrilling time capsule is an utter joy.

This wayward roadside gang of funny-walking teens formed in London in 1962. As a group of pals, they are the quintessential modern rock band—a band of brothers, if you will. That is immediately apparent from this vintage footage. In a time when rock was young, these were kids just having fun. Devoid of the trappings of luxury that they have since been afforded, they’re simply wandering the hedgerows in search of a show.

Two years into their blossoming careers, the footage finds them on the fringes of fame, ready to join the frontier of the British Invasion. As the posh fellow puts it, “they’re five of the most famous men in show business.” These guys had charm and a cutting edge that seemed to grab pop culture by the lapels. They had a proto-punk edge to their oeuvre even from the get-go.

Although history might show The Beatles making waves in a global sense, on home soil, the Stones pipped them. In a 1964 survey on the nation’s favourite band, The Rolling Stones took the top spot. However, they knew that they had to up their game to stay ahead of the curve and start crafting original music as the ‘Fab Four’ continued to innovate.

Thus, while this footage might see them being playful, it is actually one of the most pivotal moments in their entire career. They were at a peak, but the history of pop culture is littered with an endless list of acts who assailed huge heights only to become tricky quiz question answers in the decades to come. So, The Stones knuckled down and had fun while they firmed up their artistry.

Importantly, one factor that is readily apparent in the live footage from Hull, is that their own version of Beatlemania was well and truly underway. The screaming hysteria is a fuel that served them well as they made their way over to the states with monumental buzz behind them. It was simply a case of refining that into something sustainable and they had the musicianship to do that and then some. The rest, as they say, is ancient history.

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