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Rolling Stones Gather Momentum

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The day after the JFK show, Jagger sat in his New York hotel suite, where he was registered as "Sam Spade," and talked about the first week. "I have the flu," he said. "I feel terrible. I'll be all right tomorrow. Other than that, I feel great. The tour's going well, everyone's playing well, the audiences have been excellent. I'm very happy with the tour. Once I get rid of this cold, it'll get better."

I reminded him that some of the fans in Philly had not been too happy when there was no encore.

"We never do encores," he said with a touch of scorn. "Just because every American band runs back and forth offstage and does five encores — the only time we did was at the Garden."

But, I said, the Stones did an encore in Passaic.

"Did we? Wal, it was already written down. We never play encores. We play the show and go home. I hate planned encores. We just play to the end and that's it."

What about the blocking of the set? The older songs first, like "Little Queenie" and "Honky Tonk Women," and then six songs from the new album ("When the Whip Comes Down," "Miss You," "Imagination," "Respectable," "Beast of Burden" and "Far Away Eyes") and then more older songs. At the JFK show, the newer songs really slowed the audience down, the momentum was lost.

"Wal, yesterday was the first big outdoor gig. At the smaller gigs, the new songs fly right through. But you have to do new songs, don't you? I mean if you just play old numbers, you don't get anywhere. You can't stand still. The new songs are going over okay, especially 'Whip' and 'Respectable.' You can't expect us to play old songs forever. We won't become a dinosaur. We won't compromise."

What about the tour planning? Obviously, this one was thrown together pretty quickly, dates being dropped and added, traveling by commercial air.

He laughed at that. "Yeah, obviously it was put together quickly. We added Mac [organist Ian McLagan, formerly of the Small Faces] three days before Florida. The smaller dates were added quickly, because we just wanted to get away from playing only the big places. We will do several New York City dates but I don't know yet which ones we'll do. I may leave town for a while, I don't know. I don't have a schedule in front of me."

What about security on the small dates? The fans almost nabbed the Stones when they arrived at Passaic. Wouldn't New York City be worse than that?

"I'm not worried. It's no different from the '65 tour, not as bad as that one, actually. No worries, no problems."

What about adding "Satisfaction" to the lineup? I was surprised to hear that at JFK. It's been a long time since the Stones did that.

"Wal, what can I say? We did 'Satisfaction' at Knebworth, you know. We can do it. It seemed to be nice to do, so we threw it in. No special reason. The crowd liked it. Anything else?"

Yes, is it true that Atlantic is trying to get you to delete or change the song "Some Girls"?

"Yeah, Atlantic tried to get us to drop it, but I refused. Said no. I've always been opposed to censorship of any kind, especially by conglomerates. I've always said, if you can't take a joke, it's too fucking bad."

This is a story from the July 27, 1978 issue of Rolling Stone.

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

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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