Ian Stewart wasn’t a very good-looking dude. And he was a tad old. Both of those things prevented him from being more than an honorary member of The Rolling Stones. He was there from the beginning, he probably was the most musically inclined member and yet he was unceremoniously demoted from the band that he co-founded with Brian Jones. That’s right: Mick and Keith came to the fold after Brian and Stu.
It should come as no surprise that Mick and Keith later muscled Brian out, but mostly because he was fucking high all the time.
Ask anyone else: What would you do if the manager of the band you helped create came up to you and said, “We’re going to need you to not play on stage with the rest of the band anymore. As a matter of fact, don’t even acknowledge that you’re in the band anymore. Act like you’re the road manager”
What would you say?
Let’s say that for a moment you didn’t just clock said manager and instead asked “Why?”
Then the manager gave you some bullshit about how there’s not any groups around with six members in them. You knew this was a lie, that it was all about you being not the best looking guy in the band and a few year older than the rest of the fellas.
What would you do then?
I’ll be you’d let out a “Fuck you!” and take a swing then. You’d probably take the band name too.
Ian Stewart said “O.K.”
He played behind the stage. He played in the studio. He still told the rest of the band when he thought the songs were shit and when they were acting like spoiled brats. Not that they listened, but they still respected his opinion more than any carpetbagger.
It’s funny now because all of the Stones are old and not so good looking. Stu died in ’85, when the band was going through the motions on Dirty Work. Ironically, the first album without Stu around also happened to be the first one that really, truly sucked. Keith later suggested that even after Ian passed, he would still ask Stu what he thought of a new song, but we all know that with the amount of pharmaceuticals he’s ingested, I’d totally believe him if he claimed to have gotten a reply from his departed friend.
The band finally did the right thing when they were nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They made it contingent on the fact that Stu would be included…as a full member…with the rest of the band.
Ian Stewart died today in 1985, while waiting in the waiting room for his doctor to see him.