Michael Des Barres: 50 Years of Jack Flashers, Midnight Ramblers, Devil Sympathizers

Guest Blog: Everyone loved the Beatles … everyone. But it was the Rolling Stones that we feared

I remember the day that I realized Mick Jagger was older than the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. I marveled at this compact, Dionysian figure of lean, confident sexuality who without question was still the world's greatest rock ‘n’ roll frontman.

It was the night I saw 100 Keith Richardses at the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard, wearing their girlfriends’ mascara on their Oxycontin eyes — bandanas self-consciously buried in jet-black bangs, shuffling en masse to the bar in vintage high-heeled boots, squeezed into the tightest trousers ever made while nonchalantly knocking back another shot of Jack Daniels with skull rings flashing a beacon for all to see.

At the clubs, "Brown Sugar" was played by innumerable musicians, eyes closed in a Babylonian trance. It was a Rolling Stone reverie, both making love to Marianne Faithfull and smoking a spliff with Keef in his Jamaican getaway whilst carousing with Ronnie Wood and some Eastern European green-eyed teenage model/waitress in Paris — playing guitar and kneeling in front of Charlie Watts’ bass drum as Mick's sweat flew over the first few lucky rows.

Midnight Ramblers.

Devil Sympathizers.

Jack Flashers, French Chateaus, decadence beyond comprehension, scarves flying, reggae music blasting from Keith's custom-made mammoth speakers as naked girls danced like Salomé for the kings of the underworld whilst private jets cruised silently above the mundane world.

Altamont carved into their psyches. Hyde Park's butterflies and the specter of Brian Jones casting a shadow over this rock ‘n’ roll world that the band invented 50 years ago.

Yes, 50 years.

The grainy black-and-white YouTube artifacts show a herky-jerky Jagger twitching his way into the panties of teenage girls all over the world. Soon, Keith's bouncy enthusiasm would mutate into dark, knife wielding suspicion — his eyes penetrating or glazed, his frail body draped in a Tibetan prayer shawl.

Everyone loved the Beatles … everyone. But it was the Rolling Stones that we feared: danger and satisfaction hand in hand. Riffs from the deepest part of the Delta by way of post-WWII England. Simple, pure, carnal. A groove never heard before or since.

A band of marauding gypsies with the infamous tongue poised to lick you to death or ecstasy.

An R&B cover band born in London's seediest clubs in 1963 now playing the anthems of generations to the largest audiences ever assembled in the history of entertainment. The house band of Caligula's last party. The soundtrack of the Apocalypse and Paradise.

Ladies and gentlemen … the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world! The Rolling Stones!!

This could be “The Last Time” …

I doubt it.