Stones Tour Pays Off

Page 2 of 3

And then, of course, there is the Internal Revenue Service. Even after the inevitable tax bite, though — something that the Stones must by now be expert at minimizing — the founding members of the group must have walked away from the tour as multimillionaires once again. In the case of Jagger and Richards, the final tally would be even higher. (As for Ron Wood, the group's happy-go-lucky — emphasis on lucky — slide guitarist, it's doubtful that after only six years onboard he would merit a full stake in rock's longest-running money-making machine.)

Clearly, the Stones tour was as much about money as about art — which is not to denigrate either aspect of such an astonishing achievement in their twentieth year. But artistic acclaim is nothing new for the Stones; what was new in 1981 was Mick Jagger's obvious total control. After burning through some of the canniest management talent in the music business — Marshall Chess, Earl McGrath and Peter Rudge — Jagger has come out totally on top. No tour detail, however minute, escaped his appraising eye, from the number of T-shirts hawked outside the halls to the granting of press tickets and backstage passes at each stop on the tour. Even Bill Graham, the volatile take-charge promoter, apparently worked strictly for Mick, and one detected the singer's budget consciousness in the generally spartan state of the tour's backstage buffets (cold cuts, not caviar), and in the refusal that was politely conveyed to one promoter who inquired whether the band wanted its dressing rooms to be stocked with champagne.

If there were any considerations that Jagger — once a promising student at the London School of Economics — couldn't handle, he turned to his personal financial adviser, Prince Rupert Loewenstein. Jagger supposedly met Loewenstein at a party in London five years ago, when the Englishman was still a private investment banker with the firm of Leopold Joseph and Sons. Today, it's reported that Loewenstein handles just one account — the Rolling Stones — for a reported ten percent commission. Through Promotone B.V., the Holland-based holding company set up for the group, he has reportedly channeled their ever-accumulating capital into Japanese fish factories and other diverse enterprises. Taxwise, he has apparently made clear to them the wisdom of maintaining primary domiciles in the South of France or the U.S. (or, in Richards' case, Jamaica).

What all of this high-level financial positioning means is respectability with a vengeance. After twenty years as the bad boys of rock, the Stones are no longer boys and are hardly "bad" by the punk standards they themselves once set. It is a tribute to Jagger's genius for manipulation that the media so eagerly embraced the band's new, nonthreatening image. It did seem odd, at first. Gone were the fabled sex-and-drug orgies of yore; instead, there were the Stones celebrating Bill Wyman's birthday in Orlando, Florida, by renting out a boat at Disney World for the night. In San Francisco, with Mayor Dianne Feinstein beaming by his side, Jagger genially solicited donations for the repair of the city's deteriorating cable-car system. And Herb Caen, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist, spotted former hotel wreckers Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts dining out at the exclusive Ernie's Restaurant, eating "varied pâtés and soufflés," talking to the maitre d' in French and paying their $866 tab with a flick of Mick's American Express card. When the tour hit Houston, Mick passed up a visit to Gilley's, the renowned suburban honky-tonk; but with Texas-bred girlfriend Jerry Hall in tow, he made a beeline for a party for Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.

But the media fell right into line. A full-page color photo in Life showed Jagger jogging down a country road with an intent, dedicated-professional look on his tanned face. He even agreed to sit for a TV session with gossip columnist Rona Barrett. And in the Los Angeles Times, a relaxed, healthy Keith Richards said he'd think about doing an antidrug commercial "if I could figure out the right way to do it." In the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Ken Tucker devoted two pages to explaining the band's old bad-boy image. "I just thought it would be worthwhile to remind people that the Stones used to be controversial," he said.

There were some minor demurrals: Time published a two-page spread on why not to see the Stones; an L.A. television reporter petulantly complained that the press was more restricted at the band's Memorial Coliseum show than at any other time he could remember (he then proceeded to announce the hotel at which the Stones were staying); and the Chicago Tribune told its readers how to locate the Stones, listing their favorite hangouts and even Mick Jagger's scheduled dentist appointment. By and large, though, the message from the media was clear: you can come home now, boys, all is forgiven.

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

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »