Rolling Stones mark 50th anniversary with photo show

The Rolling Stones launch a photographic exhibition Thursday marking 50 years since their first gig, as guitarist Keith Richards said the veteran British rock band had been rehearsing again.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones played The Marquee Club in London on July 12, 1962, the first time they performed under the band name which would change the landscape of pop music forever.

Members of the group, which has sold 200 million albums worldwide, were due to walk down the red carpet at London's Somerset House to officially open an exhibition of photos of the band's career.

It features more than 70 photographs, some of which are rare or have never been seen before. There are photos of the band's concerts but also more intimate, behind-the-scenes pictures.

With rumours of a tour to celebrate the band's golden anniversary swirling for a number of years, Richards said they have met up for "a couple of rehearsals" recently for the first time in five years.

"There's things in the works, there's nothing so final that I could say," he told the BBC in an interview filmed at the exhibition.

"We're playing around with the idea and we've had a couple of rehearsals. We got together lately, and it feels so good. I think soon, I think it's definitely happening, but when, I can't say yet."

The band's continued popularity, even though they are now pensioners aged in their sixties and seventies, is shown by the flurry of speculation about whether or not they would mark the anniversary with a gig.

Rolling Stone magazine -- named after the same blues song which gave the band its name -- reported last month that Jagger, Richards and their bandmates were considering at least one live concert this year to mark the anniversary.

Lead singer Jagger took to Twitter recently to deny that the band would stage a show to mark the London Olympics, which get under way on July 27.

"We are not playing the Olympics, but I'm looking forward to watching the Games like everyone else!" he wrote last month.

The band has also denied recent reports that they will play one last concert together at next year's Glastonbury Festival, with a statement saying the date was "not in our plans."

Childhood friends Jagger and Richards were aged just 18 when played that first Stones gig at 165 Oxford Street and Jones -- who drowned in the swimming pool at his home in 1969 -- was 20 years old.

In a sign of the times, the site is now a branch of Santander bank.

They went on to score a series of hits like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Brown Sugar" which are legendary rock favourites decades after topping the charts.

The Stones have survived numerous personnel changes as well as an often strained relationship between songwriters Jagger and Richards, the core of the band.

This flared up again in 2010, when Richards's colourful autobiography, "Life", took several swipes at Jagger, particularly for accepting a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Richards, famed for his vast drug and alcohol intake in the band's heyday, said he had nicknamed Jagger "Your Majesty" and insinuated that the strutting lead singer had a "tiny todger".

Richards wrote in the book: "Sometimes I think, 'I miss my friend.' I wonder, 'Where did he go?'"

Despite the obstacles, the band have continued to perform regularly over the years, although Richards nearly died when he fell from a coconut tree in Fiji in 2006 while touring the band's last album, "A Bigger Bang".

A new documentary covering the history of the band from that first concert to the present day is also being showcased in September.

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