Keith Richards Meets the Mounties and Faces the Music

Page 2 of 8

On the eighth day of the Stones' latest crisis, Thursday, March 3rd, I am awakened by a phone call from Wasserman. "Why won't you ever believe me?" he asks indignantly. "We know that you got into El Mocambo last night. Why didn't you stay here and come to the party?"

There is silence on my end. What could I say to this master of double talk?

Wasserman resumes: "Carter and I are taking Anita to court this morning but there's no reason for you to go to that. They'll just remand her hearing to the 14th. The Stones rehearsed all night so they'll sleep all day. They're working on new material for a studio album. I didn't tell you that. Ciao. Remember something: all the phones here are tapped."

I scan the morning papers and wonder why there's nothing about Keith or Anita in them, until I remember that under Canadian law you cannot publish anything that could later be construed as evidence in pending cases: you can only cover the official hearings and verdicts and so on. There are other interesting items in the papers, though. Ontario Province attorney general Roy McMurtry apologizes for saying that the province should open up marijuana shops, since the courts were so cluttered with marijuana cases. An RCMP constable admitted in court that he had accidentally erased part of a phone wiretap that had been used as evidence in a hashish trial. There is an irate letter to the editor from one L.E. Wallingford about the RCMP which concludes that "we were harassed, intimidated, upset and humiliated, all because of an unfounded 'tip' and the Gestapo-like powers conferred on the RCMP. . ."

It doesn't surprise me when I call the RCMP and receive only a firm "no comment" about the Keith Richards case.

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Keith Richards

A friendly source within the Stones camp does tell me some interesting tidbits: "You can spot the Mounties in the lobby because they wear tiny receivers in their ears. . . We still don't know whether there was an informer in the hotel. I'm afraid this is serious. The Stones, especially Mick, are desperate and depressed. They think these are the last albums, the live one and the studio one. I'll tell you something else: we found a transmitter in Keith's room but the lawyers aren't going to mention it till they go to court."

Suddenly realizing that I am registered as being from Rolling Stone and wondering if the RCMP know the difference, I start searching my room every few hours to make sure nothing has been planted.

The RCMP are answerable only to the Federal Solicitor General's Department. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau himself, if he wanted to, could not intervene in Keith's case. "The closest comparison I can make," one local reporter tells me, "is that the Mounties are a combination of the FBI and the CIA."

I talk to one of the Stones' drivers, who tells me unmarked cars follow the Stones everywhere they go.

I get a call from Wasserman, just back from court, slightly irritated that CHUM referred to him as Anita's "large American bodyguard." "By the way," he says, "the Stones are recording tomorrow night at El Mocambo, but if you show up I'll throw you out."

"I'll be there," I say and hang up. I call Peter Rudge and argue with him for a while, but he is clearly operating in some other dimension. Check into the Harbour Castle and you have to check your sense of reality at the door.

Wasserman calls back: Rudge says your chances of seeing the band are "absolutely zero." Lisa Robinson, a syndicated rock columnist, has been calling from New York every two hours, he says, frantic to come. But Rudge has forbidden her to enter the country. "If Flippo shows up, you'll throw him out?" she asks. "Fuckin'-a-right," is Rudge's reply.

Good God! The American press is going crazy -- they're waiting for Rudge to give them permission to enter the country! What, I'd really like to know, have I gotten myself into?

Late in the night, two young women knock on the door of 3019. "Are you Peter Rudge?" one of them asks when he opens the door. "Yes," he says as they sweep by him, seating themselves on a couch. Rudge is nonplused. "Who are you?"

"You're Peter Rudge. We were ordered up here to do Peter Rudge. We were promised $100 each and we're not leaving till we get paid."

Rudge flees to Wasserman in 3016. "My room has been taken over! Get the police! Get Carter!"

Carter goes over to 3019 and knocks. "Are y'all hookers?" Yes, he is told. He negotiates a settlement with them: $50 each, and they leave. Rudge finally retakes his room.

He still does not know who set the whole thing up.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »