When The Rolling Stones played a historic concert in Havana in March, they appeared in Cuba as legendary ambassadors of rock. Back in the early 1960s, they were pretty much exactly the opposite: newcomers on a scene that was itself brand-new. They first performed in 1962, wearing a clean-cut look that matched the style of other fledgling groups. They would soon an embrace an edgier look and sound. A new book, Breaking Stones: 1963-1965 A Band on the Brink of Superstardom, from which these pictures are drawn, features images made by Terry O’Neill and Gered Mankowitz during those formative years.
It was in May of 1965, right at the end of that period, that TIME first delved into the Stones. “To distinguish themselves from the Beatles, Britain’s Rolling Stones have attempted to assume the image of Angry Young Men,” the magazine explained. “‘The Stones,’ their manager proudly explains, ‘are the group that parents love to hate.’ They sing Mersey-Mississippi rhythm and blues, backed by a quavering guitar and a chugging harmonica that smacks of cotton-pickin’ time down South.”
One anonymous teenage girl interviewed in the story admitted that their appeal was sexual, then begged “but don’t print that; my mother would hit me.”