Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart was one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, later serving as their road manager and pianist.


Ian Stewart was born on July 18, 1938, in Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland. After answering an ad placed by Brian Jones, he became one of the founding musicians in the Rolling Stones. Older and less glamorous than his bandmates, Stewart was pushed from the core lineup at the advice of Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. He continued to serve as the band's road manager thereafter, and to play at their performances and on records. Stewart died of heart failure on December 12, 1985, in London, England.

Early Life and Career

Born Ian Andrew Robert Stewart on July 18, 1938, in Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland, Ian Stewart was one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones. Taking up the piano as a child, Stewart developed a passion for boogie woogie music, a blues style that started in the 1930s.

In 1962, Stewart answered an advertisement for musicians placed by Brian Jones. Jones was an up-and-coming guitarist who appeared sometimes under the stage name "Elmo Lewis" and with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. Blues Incorporated featured a number of rising guest stars, including Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Eric Burdon.

Birth of the Rolling Stones

Jones and Stewart soon joined forces with singer Mick Jagger and guitarists Keith Richards and Dick Taylor, as well as a few other musicians. After spending some rehearsing, a new band emerged, one that Jones named the Rollin' Stones, after a similarly titled song by Muddy Waters.

At the time, Stewart was working as a shipping clerk for a chemical company. He was a little older than his bandmates and more interested in the blues than rock and roll music. In July 1962, the band played their first gig together. It took them less than a year to land a deal with Decca Records, which their new manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, helped arrange.

Oldham, who had done some public relations work for the Beatles, wanted to present the Rolling Stones (as they were now called) as rough-and-tumble bad boys. He felt that the husky Stewart did not fit that image. By July 1963, Stewart had been forced out of the group. He was, however, invited to serve as their road manager and to play at their performances and on their recordings.

Stewart decided to stick around. As Keith Richards later explained in According to the Rolling Stones, Stewart's decision took a "big heart, but Stu had one of the largest hearts around … I think that Stu was bemused by the whole rock 'n' roll circus. He enjoyed it without having to be torn apart, sign autographs and go to photo shoots."

Later Years

In addition to working with the Rolling Stones, Stewart pursued his own musical interests. He had his own boogie-woogie band, Rocket 88, with Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. The group released a self-titled album in 1981, which featured songs by W.C. Handy, Pete Johnson and Alexis Korner.

Ian Stewart died of heart failure on December 12, 1985, in London, England. Members of the Rolling Stones said good-bye to their sometime collaborator and friend at his funeral eight days later. After the funeral, some attendees, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, met up at Eric Clapton's house for a jam session??fitting tribute to their longtime friend Stewart. The Rolling Stones also dedicated their next album, Dirty Work (1986), to Stewart.

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