The Rolling Stones Go South

Page 3 of 4


There is a girl standing by the side of the road. It is pitch black and she stands waiting for a ride. Cars woosh by on their way somewhere else. Finally a Mack Truck pulls up. "Where you headed, girlie?"

"To the next gig, sir."

Cynthia Sagittarius, a freckled-faced 21-year-old has seen all but four concerts on this tour. She had tickets to none. She hitchhiked from New York to Vancouver, British Columbia and waited for someone with an extra ticket. She then hitched to Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., Long Beach, San Diego, Albuquerque, to each one of the 16 cities the tour has stopped in so far.

"It's really not hard," Cynthia says, standing with bedroll and knapsack under arm in Minneapolis. "I get to sleep in the cars . . . and when I get there, there are always nice people outside the hall with extra tickets to take me in. I hitched through the South last year so Mobile and Tuscaloosa won't be a problem . . . . If you don't worry about something, it's not a hassle."

What about money?

"Krishna provides."

Word about Cynthia soon gets around. A little note appears about her in the newsletter and superstardom is about to reach out for her. Gary Stromberg tries to lay some cash on her in Chicago. "Take it," he says. "What are you eating?" She shakes her head. "For vitamins," Gary says desperately.

"I can't," Cynthia tells Gary. "It's a rule. I don't take money from friends or people I know."

Willie the baggage man makes her sandwiches. Thanks, she says, but no. She doesn't eat meat. Jo Bergman arranges for her to ride from city to city in the mobile home that the Stones use to get to the gigs. Gee, she says, she'd rather hitch.

The Stones entourage is instructed to let her in to see the show anytime they spot her; but she never asks. She is just there . . . waiting. "I'd like to meet her," Charlie Watts says, "Remarkable thing she's doin', innit?"

"Gee," Cynthia says, "I really wouldn't want to meet them. I just like to see them play."

Mick Taylor sits quietly as the party revolves around him. "Quietly" always appears with his name when he is written about. He is introduced mainly by Jagger as "Oh-so-young-and-fragile Mick Taylor on guitar."

"Didja go to any of those Hollywood parties?" he asks, "those people with that LA pallor . . . almost like Satyricon, not quite the decadence and perversity though . . . I reckon you'll see it soon, in Los Angeles, at least . . .

"This country, though, there's still so much land, unlike England. We had a day off up in the mountains outside of Denver, with the sun setting through the trees' and all . . . God . . . breathtakin', really."

Across the room, Bill Wyman is concentrating on his next move on the backgammon board. He and Hugh Hefner have been locked into it for hours now. Bill is the most settled of the Stones, and his wife and son have been traveling with him. "Bill and Hef get on well, don't they?" one partygoer asks, as they begin yet another game. "He's the only one of the Stones he can really relate to. Must be their similar interests, or something . . . "

It all seems unlikely in Kansas City, where things aren't up to date, and kids prowl around the outside of the hall looking to sneak, rather than break in.

Mr. Capote arrives backstage in Kansas City. He is very small and very dignified like a United States Senator. With him is the Princess Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline's sister. The hall in Kansas City is like a movie theater, and it smells of melted butter. Mr. Capote and the Princess stand under the Tychobrahe speakers to watch the show.

Despite three days of partying at the Playboy Mansion, the band is still on its feet. "Tomorrow we rehearse," Keith says after they come off.

The plane leaves that night for Dallas and the difficulties begin. It is 87 degrees at 1:00 in the morning.

Terry Southern wanders into the Tarrant County Convention Center dressing room. He is a rumple-bearded man with long hair, his clothes the worse for his long flight. "Hello, big bopper," he says to Keith Richards whom he knows since the days of Barbarella in Rome and Brian Jones in London. Also present is Richard Elman, a novelist reporting for Esquire. And Truman Capote, who is on assignment from Rolling Stone, with the Princess. The green tile dressing room feels like Manhattan on Friday night.

The Princess, in a black scoop top with an Access guest badge pasted to the back, chain link bag with shoes to match, is looking very summery. "Peter," she says, in her whiskey and cigarette smoke voice, "Oh, Peter . . . come look, we've found a good comer." From around the tile enclosure comes a voice:

"They give you 25 years for this in Texas."

The Princess takes three steps into the throng of people clutching drinks and greasy hors d'oeuvres and makes contact with Mick Jagger. She has Mick by one bare arm and she whispers, "What about Tony?" in his ear.

"Who's Tony?" Chris O'Dell asks, puzzled.

"Slim Pickens had nevah been out of the sticks until Stanley brought him over to England for 'Strangelove,'" Terry Southern tells his fellow ex-Texan, Bobby Keys. "A good ole boy. He arrives with his pants tucked into his boots, cowboy hat, the whole thing. 'Snort-snort, ah nevah says no to a drank, Terry' . . . 'Are you settled okay?' I ask him. 'What you know me. Gimme loose fittin' shoes, a taght pussy, and a warm place to shit and I'm fahn . . . '"

Capote is at the buffet table looking for something to drink. Apple juice won't do, he decides. The little black bag he carries with him is at his side. "The sound," he says, "it's too loud. I've been told it causes ear damage. Is that true?"

"You evah been to Crystal City, Texas, the spinach capitol of the world?" Terry asks Bobby. "They got a statue right in the middle of the town square . . . Pop-eye."

Four AM again. Keith is propped up against a wall, trying to take some rest as Terry Southern bangs away trying to sell him some kind of movie deal. "The whole thing depends on you," he says. "See, what we do is open up on the two of you, then we cut right away . . . ."

* * *

Stevie Wonder and his band fail to appear for either show in Houston. They travel by commercial airliner and stay in different hotels than the Stones. For a gig in Tuscaloosa, some 300 miles from Mobile, Stevie's band takes a seven AM flight the morning after a show, and a party. They arrive in Atlanta at 8:58, then sit around until 12:10 when they catch a flight that brings them into Tuscaloosa at 12:42. A three-hour wait for a 30-minute flight. On the same night, the Stones fly back to New Orleans, spend the night there, then go on to Tuscaloosalate the next day and to Nashville right after the concert.


The hair in Mobile is shorter than in any other tour city. There are too many policemen outside the hall. Four of them refused to work inside when told they would not be allowed to carry their ivory-handled Magnum .38s which hang obscenely from their belts. They're in riot gear right from the start. Brother officers crack their long black billies one against another, or whip them into lamp posts, just to keep loose.

The Stones are standing in a line inside the dressing room, shuffling and being polite as Assistant Mayor and Chief of Police Robert ("Call Me Bob") Doyle ("It's A Good Irish Name") presents them with gold keys to the city.

"Some of mah conservuhtive friends," the Assistant Mayor says, "said to me, 'What are you doin' Bob? Have you gone crazy?' But Ah say we got 11,000 people here tonite and we gotta keep 'em happy too." Bulbs of the local newspaper photographers flash quickly. "With that and a dahm," the Assistant Mayor tells Bill Wyman, "you can get a cup of coffee."

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