Whether they are still, at their current advanced age, the "greatest rock'n'roll band in the world" is almost academic. Every night, somewhere in the world, a different band will wear that mantle, but the Stones have worn it on more nights than any other band extant. Even if their increasingly elaborate stadium spectaculars place more emphasis on Jagger the fitness fanatic and all-round showman rather than the ragged glory of Richards' still-unique guitar and the unmistakable whomp of Watts' drums, they do, after all, still represent the grand archetype of the whiteboy rock'n'roll band.
As Richards put it, "We had a whole new generation listening to our music. There are 12-year-old kids I used to play to who are now making hit records - bands like The Hives and The Strokes. On a musician's gravestone all you can have is 'He passed it on.' It's the best accolade you can get."
Charles Shaar Murray Independent UK 15 August 2003