CMT All-Time Top 40: The Rolling Stones

Country Stars Count Down Their Favorite Artists

The Rolling Stones — singer Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Brian Jones, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts — undoubtedly changed the course of music history in the 1960s, bringing a fierce new brand of rock ‘n’ roll to the masses which, of course, included country music lovers.

They arrive at No. 20 on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice , a list of the most influential artists in history, chosen by country stars themselves. Each week, another honoree is revealed on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .

Inspired by the raw intensity of American blues and R&B, the Rolling Stones were the antithesis of the suave pop singers of their day. Full of attitude and sex appeal, they symbolized the changing values of the American youth and presided over a major cultural shift.

Musically, they exposed the potential of the guitar riff and the defiant frontman, cementing the idea of rock ‘n’ roll as a spectacle of rebellion and fantasy.

All of these elements and more would later work their way into country music, and artists like Kix Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Thomas Rhett and The Band Perry took notice.

“The first time I saw them live, I just couldn’t believe it,” Brooks said. “I had seen a lot of rock shows and lot of lights and stuff but, man, nothing like they had. These huge towers — that’s where (Brooks & Dunn) got the whole inflatable thing. They had these gorgeous, huge eight-story women on both sides. Mick just running and bouncing all over these things, and you think, ‘Man, I’d be just like them if I only had the guts.’ They were and still are kind of a force of nature. They’re so cool, and they have managed to just keep doing whatever it is that they do.

“The other thing about the Stones is the guitar licks, and that’s what I think Keith has always brought to the table,” Brooks continued. “Mick’s the front guy and he does his thing, but I remember the first time I saw them play and the lights went down, and you just heard the riff to ‘Satisfaction.’ That was the first lick I learned to play on guitar, and it’s so simple and so genius. Who doesn’t know that? And the whole place just goes nuts. It’s the power of five notes. Wow. And they do it over and over again. I mean, how can you shuffle the deck that many times and still come up with aces?”

Crow was impressed by their obvious love of American music.

“I think the Rolling Stones have always had the best references, and they were definitely influenced by American music,” she said. “They know everything about Southern blues, Chicago blues. They emulated Muddy Waters. They wrote songs that were very fiery blues. They made them into pop songs. And then they got into the country sound with Let It Bleed and Exile on Main Street, and they were big fans of Buck Owens and Johnny Cash. You can hear it in their songs.”

For Rhett, the Stones’ appeal was all about attitude.

“The Rolling Stones kind of have very special memories in my heart,” he said. “I mean, obviously the Stones are, I think, one of the greatest rock bands of all time. You can’t go watch Mick Jagger and Keith Richards without being entertained in some form or fashion. Their songwriting’s great, they just have this overall vibe like they are the definition of rock ‘n’ roll to me. But their roots were very bluesy and country, and they were also kind of like the bad boys, I guess.”

The Band Perry grew up listening to the Rolling Stones and think generations to come will have the same experience.

“Our dad is the one who just raised us on the Rolling Stones,” Neil Perry said. “He would sing us to sleep with ‘Start Me Up,’ ‘Wild Horses,’ all those great songs. … I’ve said before they’ve got great songs, they’ve transcended time, they’ve been around long before everyone else and they’ll be here long after we’re gone.”

But ironically, according to Crow, that was never their plan.

“They were the band that said when they were in their teens, ‘If you’re 30, you may as well be dead,’” she pointed out. “‘You’re not going to be a rock star if you’re 30. It’s over.’ And now they’re in their 70s, and they’re still doing it and they deliver.”

Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced next each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.