THE BLOG
12/20/2012 06:28 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

A History of the World in Rolling Stones Concerts

Eleven years after the benefit concert in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was held at Madison Square Garden, many of the same top musicians came together to raise money for those suffering from Superstorm Sandy, including Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, The Who, Eric Clapton and Bon Jovi.

The Concert for Black Death, 1348: No one who was there will ever forget the moment the opening chords of their mega-hit "Putrefaction" rocked the Cathedral at Chartres, as the band took the stage after six hours of Gregorian chants by their opening act, the Righteous Brothers. (That was the original group, consisting of actual Franciscan brothers.) The event, which supported research into the role of witches and Jews in spreading bubonic plague, kicked off the famous "Let It Bleed" tour and pogrom, which resulted in the Stones' being banned from virtually every hotel in the Holy Roman Empire.

Occupy the Vatican Benefit, 1521: "Hey, the time is right for a Protestant Reformation," they sang, bringing the crowd of 400,000 in St. Peter's Square to its feet dancing as they introduced the chart-topping "Priest Fighting Man," which held the #1 position for virtually the entire 16th century. Reportedly provoked by John Lennon's remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ, Mick Jagger had announced his intention to "show that little ponce who's God's vicar on Earth" by overthrowing the Roman Catholic Church. Jagger and Keith Richards, joined by Martin Luther on harmonium, helped usher in more than 400 years of religious warfare in Europe, beginning with a clash between the Vatican's Swiss Guards and the concert security force of Hell's Angels. Leaving Rome after the 18-hour post-concert banquet, Bill Wyman reportedly woke up, saw the Colosseum and quipped, "Blimey, did we do that?"

Thomas Jefferson's Inaugural, 1801: A last-minute substitution for Bob Dylan, who had a conflicting engagement to perform at a bar mitzvah at Fraunces Tavern, the Stones' first live American performance was a triumph, ending with the legendary 37-minute-long version of "Jumping Jack Flash," written as a tribute to outgoing President John Adams. The new President danced three quadrilles with Bianca Jagger. The ball ended on a sour note, though, when Jefferson attempted to enslave Jimi Hendrix, who had joined the Stones on stage for "Paint It Black." An entry in the Monticello account books for "repairs &c to Guests Roomes" has been linked by researchers to reports of a three-day after-party, which ended only when Jefferson ran out of Champagne.

The Voyage of the Titanic, 1912: As the great ocean liner slipped into the Atlantic, the band played on -- at least until seawater reached the stage and short-circuited the band's primitive electric guitar during the bridge in "Honky Tonk Woman." Showing remarkable courage, the group finished their set before jumping into a lifeboat, elbowing out a contingent of off-screen characters from Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. As he watched the giant ship sinking, Jagger reportedly turned to Richards and quipped, "Blimey, did we do that?"