"I'm not even thinkin' about this tour," Keith says, concentrating on coloring circles on a piece of paper with a yellow crayon he's found. "I'm just gonna show up and be on it. I wish we'd work some places we haven't been though, like Kansas City. We've only been to Memphis once . . . y'get hung up in the same old circuit of cities all the time . . . we've got a short list of people we'd like to take with us, the Staple Singers, Joe Tex . . . an old bluesman would be nice but they're pretty fragile . . .
"By the time we get 'round to doin' it, it'll be almost as long a gap as between the last and the one before it. Funny though how things have changed, no one's talkin' about free concerts anymore and yet right now grass is legal in Michigan. It's like maybe when you stop pushin', you get what you want . . . there's a message there somewhere, folks . . ."
Will it be the last tour?
Keith looks up from his coloring. "I doubt it," he says. "We need the money." Keith's worked only once since he's been in L.A., an attempted jam with Chuck Berry. Mr. B. kept casting nervous glances at Mick, who was attracting all the attention at one side of the stage, then asked Keith to "turn down." Finally he asked him and the piano player, Mac Rebennack, Dr. John, to leave. Now, Keith puts some of the dubs from their new album on the record player. "I wanted to release 'Sweet Virginia' as kind of an easy listening single," he says. The refrain in that song is "Scrape the shit right off your shoes."
Keith says the Stones might work a festival in the English countryside this summer. They've learned it's legal for them to work there: "Either that or Lebanon." There's a short silence. A festival in Lebanon? "Yeah," Keith says, matter-of-fact. "Might be a gas, actually."
The phone rings and Keith picks it up. "They've got the new mixes at Marshall's house," he says. "Let's go."
* * *
Things are slightly crazy in Marshall Chess' little pool house overlooking the lights of Hollywood. Chris O'Dell, the Stones do-everything lady in L.A., is on the phone looking for a piano player. Mick might want to cut a promotional jingle for radio about the album. "Billy Preston isn't home," she explains earnestly. "Stevie Wonder's available but I haven't asked Mick about him . . . I called Carole King and she said well, she wasn't working much any more, what with the baby and all."
Jimmy Miller comes through the door with his hands full of album sleeves. "Take that shit off," he says, "and play something good. We've re-done five songs."
All the mixes of "Tumbling Dice" are played, loud and numbing. Marshall's on the phone making arrangements so he can hand-carry the masters onto the plane and deliver them to Atlantic Records in person on Monday morning.
With the sun fading behind the hills and the light failing, Mick and Keith sit slumped on the couch. In the gathering gloom, all you can see is their wan white faces and feathered hair. They look like brothers.
The last chords of "Tumbling Dice" fade away. "They're both good, y'know Jimmy," Mick says, closing his eyes. "Maybe the old one . . .," Keith mumbles. Jimmy looks around. He says, "I think the new one is more commercial." The two are almost identical; even Mick can't tell the difference. They discuss it around the room. The old one, the new one. Which one will sound better mono? The old one. "Ok," Jimmy concedes, "the old one. We'll go back now and play with it." "Yeah," Andy Johns agrees, "just a fraction more top on it. It's still a bit dull."
Across the room, Marshall Chess is talking to himself. Jimmy and Andy collect the mixes. Mick Jagger grabs a piece of paper and draws the album title the way he wants it. "Fanatics," Marshall says to himself, softly. He sputters a laugh, "Fanatics."
The new Rolling Stones album is ready to be delivered.
This is a story from the April 27, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone.
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