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Rolling Stones Back Off from 'Mini-Tour'

Unofficial six-date stint nixed, likely in line with recent drug discovery

Keith Richards with the Rolling Stones performing while playing Fender Telecaster guitar May 26th, 1976 in Earls Court, England.
Graham Wiltshire/Redferns/Getty
July 15, 1976

SAN FRANCISCO — The Rolling Stones have canceled a planned "mini-tour" of six U.S. cities. It was to have begun immediately following their European tour.

It's not exactly a cancellation, publicists for the band and its record label say, since the group had never agreed to the engagements and no contracts had been signed. But Stones tour manager Peter Rudge, until recently also tour manager for the Who, had held reservations for stadiums and auditoriums in Oakland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. Detroit was also in the itinerary.

Speculation as to why the Stones called off their U.S. stops included problems associated with Keith Richards's auto accident and detainment May 19th northwest of London. Police found what was first called a "drug substance" in the car and released Keith on $75 bail. Since then, the London Daily Mirror has reported the Stones as the unknowing couriers of a drug syndicate. Under headlines reading "Drug Smuggling Shock for the Stones" and "Cocaine Hidden in Pop Star's Bentley," news stories told of police suspicion that cocaine and cannabis had been hidden in clothing, jewelry and equipment carried by the "unsuspecting" Stones and their entourage during their 9-country, 36-day tour.

The Rolling Stones, 1963-1969: Behind-the-Scenes Snapshots

Police scientists were reported to have found, besides the "substance" in the Bentley, cocaine hidden in a silver horn on a bracelet and inside a shell on a string of worry beads. The drugs, Richards reportedly told inspectors, "are a mystery to him."

Police were said to be looking for the owners. "Police and customs men," said the Mirror," "know drug gangs sometimes use pop groups' amplifiers and instruments to smuggle cannabis." Richard was expected to answer more police questions after the Stones' tour ended June 23rd.

Richards, meanwhile, was hit with a personal tragedy, the death of the child born (prematurely) to him and Anita Pallenberg two months ago. The infant, a Stones aide said, had been ill since birth.

Aside from Richards's personal crises, there was talk that the Stones decided against the U.S. dates because of dissatisfaction with the staging and sound of their London concert (which was panned by the pop press there), and a feeling among some members of the band that the tour's extension into the States for nine concerts was financially not worth the time and effort.

The Rolling Stones Live, 1964-2007

None of the Stones could be reached for comment, and the Stones' publicists themselves were unable to reach either the group or Peter Rudge in Paris. "It's so odd, this tour," said one publicist. "We never hear anything about what's going on over there." Various people close to the band gave "exhaustion" from the European tour as the reason for their backing out of the summer concerts. The Stones are planning a U.S. tour this fall.

This story is from the July 15th, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.


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