Heavy metal, punk rock, and alternative rock all played a significant role in the development of grunge music, which came to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Seattle music scene. Distorted guitars and deep, frequently husky voices were its defining features. Grunge combined components from these styles to produce a sound that alternated between being angry and aggressive and melancholy and introspective.
Grunge acts were reliant on the foundation of classic rock, whether they wanted to acknowledge it or not, and the 1970s were a priceless time for most of the musicians who would later make Seattle the center of the musical universe in the early 1990s.
According to Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones actually saw the grunge genre coming out. He also exclaimed that their 1972 album ‘Exile On Main Street‘ was the first grunge record. On the album’s 30th anniversary in 2002, he reflected, “It’s a funny thing. We had tremendous trouble convincing Atlantic to put out a double album. And initially, sales were fairly low. For a year or two, it was considered a bomb. This was an era where the music industry was full of these pristine sounds. We were going the other way. That was the first grunge record. Yes, it is one of the (Stones’) best.”
The Band was not really into the genre. In 1995 Mick Jagger confessed, “I’m not in love with things at the moment. I was never crazy about Nirvana – too angst-ridden for me. But I like Pearl Jam. I prefer them to a lot of other bands. There’s a lot of angst in a lot of it. Which is one of the great things to tap into. But I’m not a fan of moroseness.”
Exile’s murky and muddy sound on songs like “Shake Your Hips” and “I Just Want to See His Face” were forerunners of the darker and heavier tones that would be adopted by a new generation of artists, which makes it easy to understand why Richards believed Exile to be a major influence. The Stones never fully embraced grunge because they were too reliant on the blues and the piercing guitar tones of Keith Richards, but Exile was their grimiest moment.
When the band made an unexpected appearance on the stage of Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 1992, the Rolling Stones’ impact on the grunge movement was further solidified. Many viewed the Stones’ performance of classic grunge tracks alongside their original material as a tribute to the developing genre. The Rolling Stones had also taken the opportunity to experiment with different sounds on their albums, often incorporating elements of grunge music.