Neither Atlantic chairman of the board Ahmet Ertegun nor MCA president Mike Maitland were available for comment on whether Richards' bust would affect their interest in the Stones. But RSO spokeswoman Annie Ivil announced, "On March 2nd, 1977, RSO Records withdrew a $1 million offer to the Rolling Stones for their recording rights to the U.S.A. after protracted negotiations. The personal affairs of the band had no bearing on the thinking of the company. The decision was made strictly on commercial terms."
As far as a postbust Keith Richards being admitted to the U.S. is concerned, the situation is serious and worsening. John Ordway of the U.S. State Department said that there are "certain types" of foreigners who cannot obtain visas through normal State Department channels, and this includes those convicted on any type of drug charge. Waivers are possible and have been granted in a limited number of drug cases. Verne Jervis, press officer for the U.S. Immigration Service, confirms that this has been true for Richards in the past. "Mr. Richards has obtained waivers on prior convictions enabling him to tour the U.S. with his band," Jervis said. "Obviously, the more offenses you pile up, the harder it is to get a visa."
And there's the rub. Richards was convicted only a few months ago on cocaine possession in Aylesbury, England, and fined $1275. On July 7th, 1975, Keith was arrested for illegal possession of a knife in Fordyce, Arkansas, and released on bail of $160. On October 17th, 1973, Richards and Anita Pallenberg were given suspended sentences for 1971 drug parties in Ville France Sur Mer. They were fined $1100 each. Also in 1973 Richards pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and marijuana and was fined $492. The fine also covered his guilty plea to illegal possession of a revolver and a shotgun and ammunition. Obviously, the court brouhaha will make entry into the U.S. very difficult.
The story in Toronto was that the Stones were to do their live recording in a joint called the El Macambo on Spadina Street. I dropped in at the El Macambo one night when the Stones were supposed to be there and found it to be a bad copy of a New York speakeasy from the Twenties — and all I got were ringside seats to watch the band April Wine play for several hours. (The Stones were spending most nights rehearsing at Cinevision in Lakeshore, a suburban film studio.)
However, on Friday night, March 4th, the Stones actually showed up at the El Macambo to record live sessions. Margaret Trudeau was in the crowd and word was that Pierre Trudeau was on his way. All media were banned on Rudge's direct order.
Meanwhile, the vast lobby of the Harbour Castle Hilton is packed with irate London journalists who cannot get interviews with anyone and think they are missing the story of the century: Keith Richards getting a life sentence. What they are forgetting is that this might very well be the end of the Rolling Stones — as we know them.
This is a story from the April 7, 1977 issue of Rolling Stone.
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