This Rock Star Said The Rolling Stones Mostly Stopped Making Good Songs

The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous classic rock bands, however, even some of their famous fans had been critical of them. For example, a rock star once said The Rolling Stones stopped making as many great songs after 1972. Here’s what that rock star had to say — and some information on the band’s history.

Mick Jagger and other members of The Rolling Stones near studio equipment
The Rolling Stones | Robert Altman / Contributor

This classic rock star wishes The Rolling Stones were still making great songs

In 2011, Rolling Stone released a list of the 100 greatest artists ever. Each entry on the list came with a brief essay by a celebrity discussing the impact of the artist. The Rolling Stones stood at No. 4 on the list, behind only The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley.

For the list, Steven Van Zandt of The E Street Band wrote a tribute to The Rolling Stones, saying they were his “life.” In his piece, Van Zandt pointed to a few of the band’s albums as their greatest. “There are generations of young people now who only know the Stones iconically,” he opined. “So I’d send them to the first four albums, the American versions: England’s Newest Hitmakers, 12×5, Now! and Out of Our Heads. The next lesson is the second great era: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. They make up the greatest run of albums in history — and all done in three and a half years.”

“Let It Bleed”

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While Van Zandt was a big fan of some of the band’s early work, he felt they stopped being as good after awhile. “In a lot of ways, the Stones are playing better now than they were in the Sixties,” he wrote. “They were quite sloppy in the early days — which I enjoy. Technically, they’re better than they’ve ever been. The trouble is, their power comes from their first 12 albums. There have been a few great songs since ’72, but only a handful. If they were making great records and playing live the way they are now, my God, how amazing would that be?”

For context, 1972 was the year the band released Exile on Main St., a classic album that’s sometimes considered their opus. While Van Zandt was critical of the band’s more recent output, he said they still gave great live performances. In his opinion, the band proved how artists can go a long way if they don’t compromise to trends. 

“Tumbling Dice”

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Did Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band have more hit songs than The Rolling Stones?

This raises an interesting question: Did The Rolling Stones have more hit albums than Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band? The former had 23 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 while the latter had 12 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. While Van Zandt didn’t like all The Rolling Stones’ albums, the band still knew how to make hit records.

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