New York — On a Saturday night just two weeks before the fact, the Rolling Stones tour almost fell through. Mick Jagger suffered severe cuts on his right hand on May 17th after pushing it through a glass window at a restaurant in Montauk, Long Island. Jagger, rehearsing with the band at director Paul Morrissey's house in Montauk, was leaving Gosman's restaurant with Atlantic Records chairman Ahmet Ertegun when the accident occurred, and he was rushed to Southampton Hospital, where he took 20 stitches. But by Monday, he was declared in good condition and the tour, suddenly in jeopardy after weeks of precision planning, was on.
The tour machinery cranked up with a press conference May 1st (Rolling Stone 188). That same day, at noon Eastern time, hand-carried announcements containing the tour itinerary and locations of local ticket outlets were delivered to hundreds of radio stations across the country. Even classical and country music programs broadcast the schedule information, which had been kept a carefully guarded secret to avoid overnight lines at ticket offices.
It made no difference. Ticket agencies stayed open long past their usual closing times to accommodate some of the estimated 1.5 million people who will see the Stones during their three-month, 58-concert tour, their longest in a decade. The tour, beginning June 1st in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and scheduled to end August 31st in Caracas, Venezuela, is the group's first American visit since 1972 and the eighth in Stones history. Although it is rumored that the Stones will expand the itinerary to include Hawaii, Asia and Australia, publicist Paul Wasserman would admit only that "there has been talk of that, but nothing is definite yet."
The Stones' performing lineup includes Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Billy Preston and temporary (as of now) guitarist Ron Wood. Most of the opening acts, which will vary from city to city, have not yet been "locked in." The Eagles and Rufus are set for Kansas City and Rufus may replace Little Feat as the opening act in Toronto. "Little Feat refused the offer," said Toronto promoter David Wolinsky. "Perhaps they thought they would just be blown off by the Stones."
The six shows at New York's Madison Square Garden and the five at the Forum, just outside L.A., will feature the Stones playing an extended set without any opening act. The shows, which will cost $12.50 per ticket, are being handled by the Stones through their own Sunday Promotions. All other shows have been assigned to local promoters.
The Stones will perform on a stage conceived by Jagger, Watts and scenic designer Robin Wagner, which consists of two superimposed triangles with the points rounded off like Moorish arches. Jagger and Watts also thought up the tour logo, a hybrid eagle and jet bomber, adapting an idea from a Mexican comic drawn by a German artist named Christian Piper.
Ninety-five percent of the tickets put on sale were sold within eight hours. The fastest recorded sales were for the two dates at San Francisco's Cow Palace; all 28,800 tickets were sold in one hour and 48 minutes. In Washington D.C., promoters Larry Magid and Jack Boyle happily claimed that they "probably had the smoothest ticket sales in the country. Tickets were sold only at the hall. There may have been scalping somewhere but there was none that we could witness. It was as peaceful as can be."
Stones tour manager Peter Rudge worked hard to discourage profiteering; only security-conscious ticket outlets with a history of nonscalping were used. Tickets were limited to four per person for the indoor shows and ten per for outdoor dates and prices averaged eight and ten dollars respectively. These precautions raised some objections in Boston, where disgruntled agencies ignored by the Stones tried to get a court injunction against those who'd been favored with tickets, claiming that the authorized outlets were not "legitimate." All tickets were sold before the courts could hand down a decision.
A stranger situation arose in San Jose, where a ticket agency reportedly bought $8.50 tickets to the Cow Palace shows for $15 and resold them for $20. "There are a lot of fakes," said Betty Danielsen, an employee of the San Jose Box Office, "and by coming to us they make sure they have real tickets. We're just trying to protect the kids." Danielsen claimed that the agency had Bill Graham's approval for their action but Graham, the shows' promoter, did not agree. "I checked with our lawyers," he said, "and it's not illegal. The end result is that they can do this." Graham voiced another complaint, this one about the overall method used to sell tickets. "The people it was unfair to were the people who were normal human beings, who had to work or were in school. I've had hundreds of letters from regular rock kids and they are furious with me."
Despite these problems, massive planning was evident in the coordination of ticket sales, especially in those cities without concerts. The Kansas City concert, the only one servicing the Great Plains, had tickets on sale as far away as Oklahoma City, Des Moines, St. Louis and Omaha.
Several Stones albums are being issued to capitalize on the tour hysteria. London Records, outbidding Capitol and Atlantic for the rights to material owned by Allen Klein's ABKCO Industries, will distribute Metamorphosis, which contains unreleased songs recorded around the time of Beggars Banquet. ABKCO will put out the four albums it recently gained through an out of court agreement with the Stones. And Rolling Stones Records (distributed by Atlantic) will offer Made in the Shade, an anthology that includes "Brown Sugar," "Angie," "Tumbling Dice," "Happy," "Dance Little Sister," "Wild Horses," "Bitch," "It's Only Rock 'n Roll," "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" and "Rip This Joint." They will also issue an album of songs that the Stones recorded in Germany earlier this year.
Several newspaper reports have speculated that this may be the Stones' last tour but a source close to the band claimed, "I've never heard anyone involved say that." Peter Rudge noted that the Stones have taken this tour seriously, rehearsing ten to 12 hours a day and concentrating on putting their stage act together.
The Stones neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, but Jagger, in a LaGuardia Airport interview with the New York Times, offered a glimpse into his feelings about the future. Asked if he'd still be performing at 45, Jagger said: "Well, Chuck Berry does and Dylan could, definitely. It's whether I'd want to. I don't think you can go on acting like a 21-year-old. I'd rather be dead than sing 'Satisfaction' when I'm 45."
This is a story from the June 19, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone.