The Rolling Stones Fall 1969 Tour

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The next song was another from the new album Let It Bleed, to be released about the time the Stones complete their tour. This was the slow instrumental break during which Jagger took off his wide, jeweled belt and dropped to his knees. From this position he kept time with Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman (hunched over his bass, his back turned to the audience much of the show), swinging his arm back and then slamming the belt against the stage as if he were doing a cameo bit in Marat/Sade.

You heard about the Boston
Honey, it's not one of those
Talkin' 'bout the midnight
Someone you never seen befo'
I'm called the hit and run raper,
in anger...

In the next, another new one, "Gimme Some Shelter," Jagger bumped his crotch at Mick Taylor's guitar neck during Taylor's solo.

There was a moment of silence after the screams and applause, as Jagger stood at the edge of the stage. He raised his hand to his forehead, Indian fashion, saying, "I can't see anyone. Let's see how beautiful you are. You can see us, but we can't see you. Let's see how beautiful you are."

The house lights came on.

The aisles in the Forum were filling now. They had filled before but the ushers – wearing short, shiny, sherbet-colored togas that made them look like a karate team in a Las Vegas lounge act – had pushed the kids back to their seats each time. Now there seemed to be more than ever edging forward.

"This next song is from when you were little children," Jagger said, introducing their second Chuck Berry song. "This is from before you let your hair grow long."

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"Queenie" was one of those Fifties teenage songs, the songs that always got a ninety-five on Juke Box Jury because it had a beat and you could dance to it, and the lyrics were just barely risqué. With Richards' familiar guitar chording and Jagger's natural, gutty voice, it became a small classic.

Bang. Right into "Satisfaction."

The place exploded. It was as if someone had cried fire or abandon ship; they jumped walls, leaped over chairs, shoved or belted anyone who had the misfortune to get in the way, and dropped ten feet from the balconies.

"Honky Tonk Woman" did it. Now it was absolute pandemonium. The bumpy plateau of heads and hands and girls sitting on boyfriends' shoulders stretched more than a hundred yards to the far end of the Forum floor.

Jagger seemed reasonably satisfied and ended the concert with "Street Fighting Man."

What can a poor boy do

But play in a rock and roll band?

Jagger exited the stage throwing kisses and batting his eyes and waving fluttering hands. It was as if he were doing a Tiny Tim impression. Kiss kiss flutter flutter. Thank you thank you thank you. Kiss kiss.

Thus the Rolling Stones "offically" began their first American tour in more than three years.

Actually the tour had begun the day before, on Friday, November 7th, a full day ahead of the publicized date, when the Stones flew to Colorado to perform a "break-in" concert at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, about sixty miles from Denver. This performance had been advertised by its Denver promoter for at least three weeks, but outside Colorado no one seemed to know of it; the Stones had asked that details of the concert go untold, in case something went wrong.

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The Stones played, essentially, the same set they would play the next four days of the tour. Only the audience response differed. In Colorado, Jagger said a day later, "They just sat there. They were, I think" – leaning forward, whispering confidentially – "too stoned to move."

Following the concert, the Stones went to the Holiday Inn nearby for a snack, then flew back to Los Angeles, arriving at four-twenty Saturday morning. Everybody was dead and the tour hadn't even officially started yet.

By noon Saturday controlled chaos was forming as dozens of people involved with the tour began to gather in the mountain-top Los Angeles home serving as the Stones' West Coast headquarters. Disheveled girls stumbled around, hair in their faces, sleepy grins, anxious for some eggs or cereal. The technical crew arrived and began talking about setting up the $19,000 sound system on the huge front lawn for a test.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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