The Rolling Stones Fall 1969 Tour

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Graham walked to center-stage. Ike and Tina had just finished their set and already the aisles were jammed. "A couple of days ago up north we had three very serious physical incidents when people came up to the stage," Graham said. "We can't tell you what to do, but please – think before you do it." It was as if Graham were drawing a line and daring the Stones to cross it.

The Stones crossed it. Jagger came out in a flowing white shirt, a red scarf wrapped around his neck and flowing down behind like religious vestments. He pranced and smiled Burt Lancaster smiled and waved and bowed and shouted, "All right! All right!"

Jagger gave the signal to turn on the house lights a song earlier in San Diego, before beginning "Gimme Some Shelter."

It is odd that, while crowd inhibitions normally diminish in the dark, at rock concerts it's when the lights go on that the mob moves. Jagger knows this and he uses it.

The audience was pushed against the stage during "Queenie" and "Satisfaction." It was a bumping and weaving mass that stuck thousands of hands into the air to applaud every song. Jagger seemed pleased.

Graham wouldn't reveal his grosses for the three shows, but the producer of the Phoenix show had some estimates to make. The way he heard it Graham grossed about $75,000 for each of the Oakland shows, $71,300 in San Diego – with the Stones again claiming sixty-five per cent. This would have given Graham a reasonable profit, but there also were stories going around about how unsatisfied Graham was with the Stones. He was reported unhappy with the guarantee and unhappy with some of the special clauses included in the contract. "No fucking comment," Graham said. "No fucking comment about anything."

Tuesday the Stones flew to Phoenix, which was only sixty-five per cent sold out, which meant the producers lost money. The Stones still walked away with $40,000, their guarantee against the percentage.

"Even if we did lose money, I have to say it was a good contract," said Bill Siddons, the Doors' manager and a consultant to the Phoenix producers. "The Stones had some great clauses in there – like they won't play to a segregated audience and if the producer tries to put that over, the Stones can walk out with the guarantee ... and the producer must hire at least fifty unarmed guards – y'dig, unarmed, no guns and no billies. I'm going to add them to my Doors contracts."

Siddons and his friends grossed $55,100, more than $30,000 short of the potential. He said the producers lost about $5,000. Siddons also said they had let about a thousand kids in free at the last minute, because they were trying to tear the coliseum apart.

The Stones were on the road again. And though they faced a few empty seats in some cities, demand was so great in New York that their two scheduled concerts at Madison Square Garden (a total of 32,000 seats) sold out the day tickets went on sale. A third show at the Garden is being added – probably for the afternoon of November 28th – and Keith Richards now says there definitely will be a free concert when the tour is over (last date is November 30th, West Palm Beach), though no specific wheres or whens are being made public.

In many ways the tour was exactly like the last one in 1966. The logistical confusion, the last–minute chaos, the greed, the ego displays, the cast of characters . . . this and more remained unchanged. Only the audience reaction seemed different. In 1966 it was wall-to-wall whoops of sexual frenzy, every concert the reason for rioting. In 1969 the audience was, as Jagger himself put it. "intellectualizing." Sitting on their hands, in other words.

In the three years the monster needed more prodding to stir it to its feet. Jagger got them (using his words again) "at it," but it was no "walk-over." Perhaps he was learning that in the time he had been absent from America, rock and roll had moved from the dance hall to the concert stage.

Bill Graham confided that if he had to do it all over again, he probably wouldn't, but Graham also said, "What I hope the Stones do is turn the whole country on, do what the Mets did for New York, wake 'em up. And I think the Stones can do it. Mick Jagger is the greatest fucking performer in the whole fucking world."

This story is from the December 13, 1969 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

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