The Rolling Stones Sees More Than 'Doom and Gloom'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mick Jagger will turn 70 in July and is currently on tour in his usual spot as frenetic front man for the Rolling Stones.

One more time, for emphasis: Mick Jagger. 70. On tour.

Proof of the preservative side-effects of a bruising, self-indulgent lifestyle and a keen business sense.

My 12-year-old son listens to Rolling Stones songs. He doesn't know the band, exactly -- couldn't tell you who Mick Jagger is if his life depended on it. But he knows Fool to Cry, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin' Jack Flash and a handful of other hits.

My 16-year-old niece views herself as a woman of the world, wise in the ways of culture. I asked her if she knew the name Mick Jagger.

"Ya, sure," she said. "Famous singer, right?"

Right. What band?

"Um . . . don't know . . . ?"

Frankly, I told her, I wouldn't think you would. The band members were stars for my generation. But the band is on tour now celebrating its 50th anniversary and is about to gross more for that tour than probably Lady Gaga will for the same number of concerts.

"Holy crap!" she said.

Right, I said. I feel the same way.

The Rolling Stones was the top-grossing act of the last decade, raking in over $869 million for 264 shows in 10 years, according to Billboard, beating U2, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen. All of those are so-called "legacy" acts, but Springsteen was only just starting out and Bono of U2 and Madonna were still kids when the Rolling Stones members were partying up a storm in France and recording Exile on Main Street. That was 1972. The band had already been around for 10 years.

The question of how the Stones achieved such popularity and why the band remains so popular, what the allure is -- that will have to wait for another article.

For now let's just say it was a combination of factors -- the group's legendary wildness and musical savvy mixed with a clear-eyed perspective on pop culture, the music industry and society as a whole.

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