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Music critic John Aizlewood said the Stones’ contribution to rock `n’ roll is “immeasurable.”

“They are a founding father of rock music as we know it,” he said. “Other bands have tried and not pulled off that amount of sexiness, allied to a kind of street-fighting menace.”

Aizlewood said the Rolling Stones have endured where other bands have split because “they are smart enough to put the band ahead of the individuals, despite their collective egos.”

He said they are also canny businessmen, and realized early on that “once you get to a certain level, if you maintain your live performance, you can play stadiums forever.”

The Stones have sold more than 200 million records, with hits including “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” `’Street Fighting Man” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

But in recent years much of their income has come from touring. Their last global tour, “A Bigger Bang,” earned more than $500 million between 2005 and 2007.

The band has famously gone through rocky periods. Founding member Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool in 1969. Jagger and Richards are both creative catalysts and sparring partners. But something - Richards calls it “chemistry” - keeps them going.

“I’d bottle it if I knew what it was,” he said.

Band mate Wood agreed.

“When we do get together, no matter what’s going on … something changes and it all channels through and comes out in the music,” he said.

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Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless