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Keith Richards Meets the Mounties and Faces the Music

Page 3 of 8

On the ninth day, Friday, March 4th, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's 28-year-old wife, Margaret, suddenly enters the picture. But let's set the scene.

At 6 p.m. the 300 lucky ticket holders meet at CHUM and, without being told their destination, board buses and are driven to El Mocambo. The club is virtually surrounded by police. After several hours of arguing with Rudge and Wasserman -- who tell me that the band is nervous and doesn't want any press there -- I decide to hold off until the next night. Then I get a tip from the club that the place is crawling with Canadian reporters.

I race down to the El Mocambo and, by dint of money and a police card, get in and confront Wasserman: "Goddamn you, you lied to me."

"Well," he says, "Peter decided that since this is Canada, we had to let some Canadian reporters in."

Later Bill Wyman tells me he is genuinely puzzled about Rudge trying to keep me out.

Meanwhile, during the show, just as the Stones start "Star Star" (better known as "Starfucker"), who should sit down at a ringside table but Margaret Trudeau? She had arrived in a Stones limo and leaves in a Stones limo and takes a suite at the Harbour Castle and holds a well-guarded party for the band. Back at the hotel, I catch a glimpse of her in a white bathrobe wafting down a corridor.

On the morning of the tenth day, Saturday, Toronto begins turning itself upsidedown. Banner headlines appear everywhere: MARGARET DROPS IN ON THE STONES. None of the Toronto papers knows that she is at the hotel, despite the fact that the Toronto Star offices are just across the street.

I call Wasserman: "Wasserman, I'm warning you. I'm going to be in that club tonight no matter what it takes. You can't treat the press this way." "No way," he says, "it's Peter's orders."

Hours of arguing later, I find myself being wheeled down the bleak hallways of St. Michael's Hospital's emergency room, past the drunks and stabbing victims.

"Nerves and high blood pressure from arguments like that could well lead to a nervous breakdown," says a Dr. Wilkinson. "Who is this Rudge person you were raving about?"

I explain. She says it's a wonder I didn't get into a physical fight.

As Dr. Wilkinson ministers to me, I send word to the hotel to let Rudge know I have just been "rushed to the hospital." When I get back to the hotel there's a concert pass waiting for me at the desk, with no note of explanation.

That night, at El Mocambo, Rudge comes up to inquire about my health and to explain he had planned all along to let me in. "Sure, Peter."

Wasserman to me later: "The only reason you got a pass is because Peter thought he had killed you." He must be thinking: "The bastard finally got even. Did he stage the whole thing?"

Rudge tells Wasserman he will throw him out if any American press gets a table. Wasserman: "You can't throw me out. I signed my own pass."

I settle down at a stage-front table with Lisa Robinson and John Rockwell of the New York Times, who'd both arrived late that afternoon after the press ban was lifted. Rudge spots me at the table but can only grind his teeth.

The Stones are magnificent. Sitting five feet away from them when they are at full power is nothing but awesome: Billy Preston slides in behind his keyboards, Ollie Brown takes up his percussion instruments behind Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman is diffidently off at the right end of the tiny stage, and Jagger is flanked by Keith and Ronnie Wood. Keith, who is gaunt and unshaven but occasionally smiling, leads them in with "Honky Tonk Women" and Jagger, in a little green and white striped jump suit open to the point where his pubic hair presumably begins, puts on the most defiant, cocksure, strutting performance I have ever seen. The band members sign autographs in between numbers and at one point Jagger ends up on his back with a female admirer lying on top of him, kissing and feeling.

They play for well over an hour and a half and never let the pace down: "Route 66," "Little Red Rooster," "Hand of Fate," Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy," "Worried Life Blues," "Brown Sugar," "Dance Little Sister," "Let's Spend the Night Together," "Cracking Up" (a new song with a reggae twist), "Hot Stuff," "All Down the Line," "Fool to Cry," "Crazy Mama," "Reelin' and Rockin'," "Tumbling Dice," "Star Star," "It's Only Rock 'n Roll," ending with a frenzied "Jumpin" Jack Flash."

During "Star Star" Mick gestures toward our table, shouting "star fuckers!" Then, as "Jumpin' Jack Flash" ends, I sense the presence of someone behind me. Peter Rudge is motioning to Mick and pointing to our table. Then Rudge grabs Lisa Robinson's hair and Jagger flings a pitcher of ice water at us. Revenge at last.

The Stones, accompanied by Margaret Trudeau, leave for a private party.

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