LONDON: With legions of fans around the world and hundreds of books devoted to the band it is hard to imagine there would be anything left undiscovered in the Rolling Stones' back catalogue.
But, incredibly, a previously unknown song by the band has surfaced after languishing in a retired businessman's loft for nearly half a century.
The track, No One Loves You More Than Me, was recorded by the fledgling group in 1964, during one of their first sessions at IBC Studios, in London's Portland Place.
The 17-minute tape, which also includes three unreleased versions of songs, is now being put up for sale, but could have easily been lost for ever.
The unmarked tape was apparently thrown away by Mick Jagger and his bandmates only to be discovered four years later by Jeremy Nielsen, a friend of a sound engineer who worked at the studio.
Mr Nielsen, then aged 19, found the tape when he visited the studio, near BBC Broadcasting House, in 1967 and was allowed to take unwanted recordings that were due to be burnt.
He never listened to his haul and simply threw them in a box, forgetting about them for the next five decades. It wasn't until he read guitarist Keith Richards' autobiography two years ago that he realised the world-famous band had recorded at the studio.
It prompted the 67-year-old to root around the attic and discover he had been sitting on a treasure trove.
The Rolling Stones themselves are understood to be excited at the prospect of hearing the song again. A source close to the band told The Telegraph: "They would love the fact a previously unknown track has been found like this. I'm sure they'll remember recording it. They remember that era very well, when they were first starting out and before they started having hits."
The recording includes nine tracks from the band's first studio sessions in March 1963 and then in 1964, which came before they released their debut album The Rolling Stones.
Some of the tracks have previously appeared on bootlegs, but there are two previously unheard versions of the ballad As Tears Go By, which was released as a single by Marianne Faithful, Jagger's then girlfriend, in June 1964, and the Stones themselves the following year. The fourth unreleased track is Congratulations, a version of which featured on the 1973 compilation album No Stone Unturned.
Mr Nielsen, who lives with his wife Val in Torquay, Devon, said: "It amazes me that I didn't know what it was at the time. After I heard it I looked up the track No One Loves You More Than Me and found it doesn't appear anywhere - it's like that song doesn't exist.
He added: "The most amazing thing about this tape is that the quality is so clear - maybe it was a master tape."
Those who have heard the songs say that No One Loves You More Than Me is clearly influenced by the contemporary Mersey-beat sound. "Its jangly pop could easily be confused for an early Beatles song if it was not for Jagger's distinctive vocals," said a source.
The tape is being sold by Lancashire-based auction house Tracks on April 3, with a pre-sale estimate of pounds 6,000.
Paul Ward, the auction house owner, said: "In an ideal world Jeremy would like The Stones to buy them and release them. If the band are not interested, this is a genuine opportunity for fans to acquire a one-of-a-kind tape that shows the early days of the Stones."