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The Rolling Stones Impose High Ticket Prices for U.S. Tour

"Is that a lot?" says Mick Jagger

November 15, 1969 2:25 PM ET
Mick Jagger Rolling Stones Live
Mick Jagger performing on stage circa 1969.
RB/Redferns

LOS ANGELES—The Rolling Stones have returned to the United States for their first tour in more than three years.

It begins wth two evening shows at the Forum in Los Angeles November 8th, with tickets priced from $5.50 to $8.50. (This compares to a $7.50 top price for a Blind Faith concert in the same arena, a $6.50 top for the Doors. And in both those concerts, tickets started at $3.50.) In arranging this show, a previously-set hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers was rescheduled – at the request of the man who owns both the Forum and the Kings.

Acts appearing at the concerts here will include Terry Reid, who will appear on all the dates, and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Negotiations were continuing to have Ike and Tina, B. B. King and Chuck Berry join the Stones in several other cities.

Promoters of the L.A. concerts said the gross for the evening would exceed $275,000 if the Stones filled the 18,000 seats in the Forum both shows. Similar grosses, on a per show basis, were expected throughout the tour, with the Stones getting guarantees of $25,000 a concert and up, against take home percentages running close to $60,000.

Although figures such as these are not unusual for tours by groups of this magnitude, they did bring strong criticism from, among others, Ralph Gleason in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Can the Rolling Stones actually need all that money?" Gleason asked. "If they really dig the black musicians as much as every note they play and every syllable they utter indicates, is it possible to take out a show with, say, Ike and Tina and some of the older men like Howlin' Wolf and let them share in the loot? How much can the Stones take back to Merrie England after taxes, anyway? How much must the British manager and the American manager and the agency rake off the top?

"Paying five, six and seven dollars for a Stones concert at the Oakland Coliseum for, say, an hour of the Stones seen a quarter of a mile away because the artists demand such outrageous fees that they can only be obtained under these circumstances, says a very bad thing to me about the artists' attitude towards the public. It says they despise their own audience."

When Mick Jagger was confronted by this criticism at a press conference at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, he left the door slightly open to giving a free concert sometime during the 13-city, 18-concert tour, but his tone didn't seem too promising.

"There has been talk of that," he said. "I should think toward the end. We'll have to see how things go. I don't want to plan that right now, 'cause we're gonna be here some while. We've got time for all that. I don't want to say that's what we want to do or not do. I'm leaving it rather blurry. I'm not committing meself."

And about the ticket cost, he strongly indicated that if some people thought prices were high, they might have been a lot worse.

"We were offered a lot of money to do some very good dates – money in front in Europe, before we left, really a lot of bread. We didn't accept because we thought they'd be too expensive on the basis of the money we'd get. We didn't say that unless we walk out of America with X dollars, we ain't gonna come. We're really not into that sort of economic scene. Either you're gonna sing and all that crap, or you're gonna be a fucking economist. I really don't know whether this is more expensive than recent tours by local bands. I don't know how much people can afford. I've no idea. Is that a lot? You'll have to tell me."

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