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(L - R)The Rolling Stones members Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger arrive for the world premiere of the Rolling Stones documentary "Crossfire Hurricane" at the Odeon Leicester Square in London October 18, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
The Rolling Stones return to the stage on Sunday for a mini-tour they hope will prove that advancing years and bad blood are no barriers to satisfaction for sellout crowds.
In a burst of activity to celebrate 50 years in business, the veteran British rockers with an average age of 68 have produced a photo book, written two songs, collaborated on a documentary, released a greatest hits album, played warm-up gigs in Paris and committed to five concerts.
They also faced questions about high ticket prices to the two gigs in London and three in the United States that have given some followers the impression they are more interested in banking cash than bashing out the hits.
Yet that has done little to dampen broad enthusiasm for their return to the big stage five years after the "A Bigger Bang" tour became the most lucrative in pop history at the time, earning nearly $560 million.
Adding to the sense of occasion, the full-time quartet of Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on guitar and Charlie Watts on drums will be joined by former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor at London's O2 Arena on Sunday.
Even before they step out for the first of two gigs in the British capital, the question on every Stones fan's lips is what more they have up their sleeves, amid hints of a full tour and the possibility of a new studio album.
"It would be nice to think that wouldn't be it," said Paul Sexton, a music journalist who has met and interviewed the band in the run-up to the latest concerts.
"Once the machine gets fired up again, it's hard to imagine there won't be more live shows to come. If these dates went well, you could imagine sufficient momentum for some kind of recording project."
BICKERING, BUT NO DIVORCE
The Stones first played at the Marquee Club in London in 1962, and with a changing lineup that settled with today's foursome the band who had to compete with the Beatles quickly became one of the biggest groups in pop history.
Their blues-infused output slowed from the 1980s, and some critics argue they peaked in the 1960s and 70s, but the Stones' longevity and a catalogue of hits like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Honky Tonk Women" have ensured the music world still cares.
Despite the promise of a major payout and another chance to enhance their legacy, the 50th anniversary celebrations were not always a certainty.
Jagger and Richards have bickered in the past and were at it again recently with Richards calling the charismatic frontman "unbearable" amid a stream of insults in his 2010 memoir "Life".
He eventually apologized, clearing the way for the reunion.