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The Rolling Stones' Interlude in Paradise: Honolulu on $1700 a Day

A brief sojourn in Hawaii; a chat with Mr. Jagger a few hours before he sets sail

March 1, 1973
The Rolling Stones' Interlude in Paradise: Honolulu on $1700 a Day

The Rolling Stones are in Hawaii. Aloha means hello and goodbye.

Mick Jagger hoists his first glass of 1957 Chateau Margaux to a table of 20. "To the shortest American tour in history," he says.

* * *

The Rolling Stones, the heart of their Pacific tour cut out when Mick Jagger was refused a Japanese visa because of a 1966 marijuana conviction, are in Hawaii, where on January 1st, by previous vote of the electorate, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana was no longer a felony but, rather, a petty misdemeanor with maximum punishment set at 30 days and/or $500. "More likely a $25 fine, like a traffic ticket," according to one resident.

The Stones, who don't talk so much about free concerts any more since that one in 1969 in California, are in Honolulu, where on January 1st each year – since 1969 – upwards of 75,000 persons have gathered for music festivals atop Diamond Head Crater, on land owned by the state and used by the National Guard. And perhaps because they're Hawaiians, islanders, their Sunshine Festivals have been largely innocent parties, just the way their director, Ken Rosene, conceived them: "to get a lot of people together to have a good day." In Hawaii you can talk like that, and keep a straight, have-a-happy-day face.

The Rolling Stones, 1963-1969: Behind-the-Scenes Snapshots

The Stones, no longer playboys after dark, stick close to their Hilton in Waikiki, the power side of town. Waikiki is the contempo melting pot, stalking and stomping grounds for prostitutes, gamblers and fighters, not to mention surfers, sunbums, and, ignoring it all, the tourists. The night before Sunshine '73, while Copperhead is doing a sound check 760 feet up at the crater and entertaining the volunteers setting up, a man is killed in Waikiki. It was simple: A local, a beefy Samoan, working as a doorman at a club on the main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, got a little backtalk and hit the guy just a little too hard. Somewhere else in Waikiki, a local put out a doorman's eye with a whiskey glass. A melting pot, all right, equal parts paradise, Manhattan, Miami Beach and Las Vegas.

"You don't talk back to local cops here," Ken Rosene is advising between Stones concerts. "They come back twice as strong."

But Bill Graham will try anyone once. So while the kids, these mellow little suntanned specimens, float around smiling in their colorful lack of clothes, it is co-promoter Graham, from San Francisco, who gets the heat hot, trying to pull rank on a Honolulu cop and nearly ending up at the bottom of a beige-shirted pile of beef.

So Graham hoists his glass of '57 Chateau Margaux at the 1 AM dinner, and Mr. Ready-Quip reflects the utter tiredness around the table, as he manages the basic toast: "To Hawaii."

* * *

Thank you for your wines, Ah-no Lew-loo,
Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruit...

– Mick Jagger, "Sweet Virginia," first show, January 21st, Honolulu International Center.

* * *

By the time dinner breaks up, at 4 AM, the Stones will have rung up a bill of $1700 for 20, mostly because Mick cleaned out all the '57 Chateau Margaux left in the cellar here at Nick's Fish Market, something like 16 bottles at $85 the bottle, plus other spirits and plenty of continental seafood. And yet it was kind of a high pointless night, everybody silent and nibbling, Charlie Watts and Mick Taylor smoking and drinking and chatting, ignoring the silver platters of hors d'oeuvres spread out in front of them; Keith Richards and Mick Jagger sitting together nearby, almost formal in their quiet. Keith looked wasted; he still had some of his nasty, pasty, deadeye make-up on. Mick's was washed off, and he looked older, more fragile than he does onstage. When he smiles, he puts his whole face into the effort, teeth bursting up front over the famous labial-lookalike lips, sometimes a hand moving up to cover the throaty laughter while the eyes close or glisten, childlike. But here, at 1:30 AM, he is yawning, the hand keeps moving up . . .

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