Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:29 AM ET
The Rolling Stones have lived hard and played hard ever since they first started performing gigs in London in 1962. Fifty years later, the English band is still rocking on, with upcoming shows in London later this month, and New Jersey in December.
But first, HBO is debuting a new documentary, "Crossfire Hurricane," about the band, which offers a new perspective on the group's path from bluesy teen musicians to rock royalty half a century later.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood sat down with TODAY's Matt Lauer on Friday to talk about their journey. When asked just how much they remembered after decades of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle, the answer came easily.
"Everything," replied Jagger. "Especially when you see the film."
"Then you're re-informed," added Richards.
Indeed. The band chatted with Lauer about the purpose they saw in their music when they started out.
"What brought us together at the beginning was playing music, that was our mission," said Jagger.
"It was to turn people on to the blues," Richards explained further. "And to the wonderful music that America had on its doorstep and wasn't listening to."
But the interview wasn't all history and fond memories. The group also discussed some of their struggles, including the battle to stay sober.
Wood admitted to Lauer that at times, it was tough for him to abstain around bandmate Richards, who has had his share of addictions and drug-related arrests.
"Alcohol and drugs is like like an old friend, you know? Keith's like an old friend. So it's hard to say goodbye to another old friend," he told Lauer. "But luckily, my old friend in reality is still there!"
"Yeah, well, if you want to stick around with the Stones, you've got to take the rough with the smooth, you know," Richards pointed out.
"Mostly rough, in Ronnie's case," Jagger added.
"At least I didn't leave in a wooden box," said Wood.
But good times and bad, the band accepts it all.
"I look at it like an adventure to cherish," Wood said. "It's good fun, to put it out and get back."
"Crossfire Hurricane," which features never-before-seen footage of the band and previously unheard versions of the group's classic songs, debuts Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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