NEW YORK — The Rolling Stones played four final sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden to wind up an exhaustive eight-week tour of US hockey arenas, airports, hotels, and one New England police station.
Then they packed up their gear and went looking for a hurricane so they could unwind.
The tour began back in early June at Vancouver, B.C. The Garden shows were the 51st, 52nd, 53rd and 54th of the tour. Behind them the Stones left a trail of ringing eardrums and faded headlines: Stones Stir Peaceful Seattle; 2nd Honeymoon for Stones, S.F. Fans; Stones Reach Peak at Long Beach Arena; Police Disperse 200 at Tucson Concert.
The Manhattan dates closed the eighth and final week of the tour, and the explosive release of energy by everyone at the Garden was to be expected. But when the Stones and the tour party of 30 look back – if they are still able – it is unlikely they will overlook the week before they reached New York – the week when the whole tour was nearly blown from underneath them by a dynamite blast. The bombing was only one episode in a string of ugly events that came down on the tour in rapid succession.
Week seven of the tour began in Toronto. The show was at the Maple Leaf Gardens – another hockey arena. For the Toronto Maple Leafs the floor of the place is iced over, so no matter how hot and frenzied the crowd becomes over a breakway slap shot, there is always that bit of cool in the air. For the Stones there was no ice, of course. Tour manager Peter Rudge took a thermometer out on stage and sagged uncomfortably as the mercury rose to . . . 145 degrees. The place was, he said, "unreasonably warm."
To compound the urge to get the hell out of the Maple Leaf Gardens, what seemed to Rudge like a battalion of police was backstage gobbling down all the free food within grabbing distance.
On to Montreal. Most of the troupe was asleep at 3 AM, Monday, July 17th. The two equipment vans had arrived from Toronto and were parked on a ramp at the Montreal Forum. The dynamite blast that exploded under the ramp blew out a slew of windows in a nearby apartment and the cones of 30 speakers inside one of the trucks.
"Whoever it was was the world's dumbest bomber," said press agent Gary Stromberg. "First he put the bomb under the ramp instead of the truck, and the other truck was the one with most of the stuff inside."
The next morning Mick Jagger wanted to know: "Why didn't that cat leave a note." The incident left everyone wondering who and why. Montreal radio stations and newspapers received numerous calls from would-be bombers claiming credit – more than 50 in all.
"There have been threats all along the tour, but nothing ever happened," said veteran tour roadie Jo Bergman. "It was totally surprising. We don't know who did it. Was it the Free the French people? Were they angry at the Forum? Was it us?"
Air Canada bumped luggage from a flight out of Los Angeles to accommodate the replacement cones, which were installed in time for the show to go on only 45 minutes late – after a bomb squad had searched the place. Even then there was more Montreal hospitality to contend with. While 3000 ticketless young people outside pelted the Forum and police with rocks, wine and beer bottles and bricks, Jagger was hit by a flying bottle inside.
That killed plans for another joint encore by the Stones and the Stevie Wonder band – first tried in Detroit ("Satisfaction"). Now the idea was to get the hell out of Montreal and Canada for Boston.
The Canadian exit did not go smoothly either. The pilot of the Stones' Electra II prop-jet braked to a halt on the runway when he noticed something amiss with the air speed indicator. By the time the thing was fixed, the getaway was an hour and a half late.
Boston's Logan Airport was socked in by fog, so the chartered flight was directed to a place called Theodore Francis Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, near Providence. When the Stones landed in Warwick a few minutes before 8 PM, there was already 15,500 people at the Boston Garden, about 45 miles away, waiting for the show to start. While Stevie Wonder started the show, the Stones entourage was taken to the airport fire engine shed.
Word of the Stones' presence in Warwick spread, quickly. About 25 kids hung around outside the shed in hot, sticky weather while customs agents went through the Stones' bags. Also present were Dante Ionata, a reporter for the Providence Journal and Bulletin, and Andy Dickerman, a 30-year-old staff photographer for the papers.
Dickerman apparently started shooting pictures without introducing himself. Stromberg, who handles press relations for the Stones, reportedly asked Dickerman to stop.
"You can't tell me not to take pictures," Dickerman replied.
Enter Stanley A. Moore, 40, of the Stones' security force. He and Stromberg escort Dickerman away from the scene. Dickerman calls the police. Sirens blaring, Sgt. Frank Ricci and three other cops race up. Ricci tries to negotiate a compromise. There is another ruckus, and the police start making arrests.
Keith Richards, simple assault; Stanley Moore, simple assault; Mick Jagger, obstruction of a police officer; Marshall Chess, obstruction of a police officer, and Robert Frank (the filmmaker), obstruction of a police officer.
At police headquarters, the five were arraigned by a justice of the peace. All but Frank were released on $50 bail. Frank, who filmed the whole affair right up to the arraignment, paid $100 bail. All pleaded innocent.
(The five were represented by Warwick attorney Joseph Gallucci, who said his clients agreed to return August 23rd for trial. Before the Stones were whisked to Boston, Gallucci obtained their autographs for his 14-year-old daughter.)
The Providence Journal Company announced the next day it would file a civil suit against Moore and Richards on behalf of Dickerman, who said he was hit by someone wielding a leather belt.
The Stones' quick arraignment and release was arranged by Boston Mayor Kevin White, who took the stage at the Boston Garden and told the crowd the Stones were on the way. He arranged for late transit service to handle the throng and before leaving the stage added, "Now I've got a favor to ask of you in return. Part of my city is in flames. I'm going to have take part of the police details out of here." He asked that everyone behave.
With the crowd perched on the backs of the garden chairs, the Stones hit the stage at 12:45 AM and plowed into "Brown Sugar" to open up. The show developed loosely – and at times bordering on sloppiness. Charlie Watts, in particular, seemed exhausted. Mick, while displaying all his moves – the struts, the curtsies, the kisses, the confetti and the ciao-ciao waves – was not in his best voice. The performance ended at about 2 AM with "Street Fightin' Man."
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BOSTON — Violence erupted for the third consecutive night in Boston's south end Tuesday as roving gangs of youths threw fire bombs that ignited a seven-story apartment building and several businesses, police said.
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Before the tour took off from Boston for Philadelphia, two other members of the entourage were arrested. Jim Cullie, a driver, and Rita Redmond were charged with possession of narcotics. A spokesman for the tour said the two stayed at a "friend of a friend's house" which apparently had been under police surveilance and was due for a bust. The spokesman said the two were innocent.
By the time the tour reached Philadelphia, the incidents at Montreal and Boston began to fade in the tour members' mind. There was New York – and, oh yeah, the Pittsburgh concert – to prepare for.
"We're running downhill now," said manager Peter Rudge. "And," he added, "we're beginning to feel it." Then his mind lurched off into a maze of statistics. "You know," he said, "this will be our 49th show, and then we've got five to go . . . "
This story is from the August 17th, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone.