How The Rolling Stones Got Their Name

The Rolling Stones are as iconic individually as they are as a unit. From the hip-swiveling shenanigans of Mick Jagger to the unparalleled command of the drum kit that Charlie Watts (who sadly died in August of 2021, per Britannica) employed, the British rock outfit is one of the biggest bands in history. Perhaps the very biggest, depending on who you ask.

Over the decades of their long and illustrious career, they've experienced the tremendous highs and lows of fame, and their bank balances have swelled to absurd degrees along the way. According to Celebrity Net Worth, an estimated 200 million copies of their albums have been sold, and Jagger himself is worth a remarkable $500 million. They've done rather well for themselves, all told.

The Rolling Stones, then, is a band name that even those with no interest in the music scene will be familiar with. How did the rockers come up with it? Quite by chance, it seems.

The name came to Brian Jones on the spot

According to the band's official website, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have a long history. The pair attended Wentworth Primary School together in Kent, U.K., and seemed to share some important things in common. Chief among these, it transpired later, was an appreciation for the music of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and others in the increasingly popular genre. It was the work of Muddy Waters, however, that would indirectly earn the group their iconic moniker.

Innovative slide guitarist Brian Jones, per UDiscover Music, was a founding member of the band. Richards and Jagger reportedly saw Jones performing in the Ealing Blues club, and were taken by his talent and creativity. By July of 1962, he was playing with the band, in a Soho gig that marked their debut under the name The Rollin' Stones (as it was originally spelled). It seems there's a good reason why Jones is regarded as much more than just an influential member of the outfit, though: He apparently came up with their name on the spot, when asked unexpectedly during a telephone call.

Radio X states that their big July 1962 opportunity was a performance in London's Marquee Club. It was a big enough deal that Jazz News magazine covered it, and Jones was speaking to the publication on the telephone when the conversation turned to a rather obvious topic he apparently hadn't considered: the name of the currently-anonymous band.

Muddy Waters was a huge inspiration to many

Of course, this is the sort of thing that often requires a great deal of thought. Names can make or break just about anything, from television shows to novels. Sometimes, though, spontaneous inspiration is the best policy.

The Express states that Kieth Richards shared the tale in "According to the Rolling Stones." A frantic, wrong-footed Brian Jones cast around wildly, noticing an album that happened to be in the vicinity. It was a Muddy Waters release, "Rollin' Stone." This, he then reportedly told Jazz News, was the name of his promising new band, and so they began performing under the name.

Waters had a huge influence on the Rolling Stones' career,  as Far Out Magazine adds. In 1981, they performed with him at the illustrious Chequerboard Lounge in Chicago. As Biography reports, Waters sadly died soon afterward, in April of 1983, but his influence on the industry can be seen in so many different ways. The lucky chance of the Rolling Stones naming their band after one of his classic songs is just one of them.