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

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Newman Jones, a lanky kid who runs a guitar repair shop in Arkansas, talks about how he got onto the Rolling Stones' touring payroll. "It's hard to say why they call on any body," he says. "I was traveling through Europe last fall carrying this old guitar – one of the first Richenbacker electrics – that I thought Keith might like. I went to his house in France, looked around, and he bought the guitar from me. Then they came to L.A. Well, in France someone stole his guitars, so he needed some work done on some new ones he'd bought. I came in from Tennessee, and now I'm on tour to do repairs, and I'm the guy that hands Keith his guitars onstage. He uses five different guitars during a set, and they all tune differently." One of them is a beauty that Newman built: "Like a car with all the options," he says, with a maple neck, cherrywood back, rosewood top, and just five strings, for open tuning, for the hard rockers like "Street Fighting Man" and "Jumping Jack Flash."

Up in Peter Rudge's suite, the tour manager continues to nurse the Stones' wounds. They are not all over Honolulu and the outer islands, he says, because they are still so depressed about the Japanese cancellation. They are pissed, in fact. He is busy working out a modified budget for the rest of the tour, offering two-week vacations to STP staffers in exchange for a cut in salaries. "Japanese television is here to interview Mick," he says. "They wanted to film the concert. Absolutely not. We still intend to go back to Japan. Next? Probably Europe next summer. Celebrate the Common Market, you know."

* * *

For the first show Monday night, Mick Jagger wears a vintage Land of Aloha shirt, a bluish silkie complete with hula dancers, surfers and sunshine, gathered at the waist, over his velvet jumpsuit. The shirt begins to look ludicrous soon enough, as Jagger suddenly begins a dramatic, nearly a cappella introduction to "You Can't Always Get What You Want," searing and reminding of Turner in Performance. Which is to remind us that, after all, Jagger is an actor. Mick, this time with yellow make-up above the eyelids, looks like an aged Fellini vamp. The set seems slow; the audience holds back. A young girl, having stood for the first number, is soon slumped back in her seat. "I think he looks tired and old," she says to a friend.

The limos are ready to whisk the Stones back to the hotel between shows; Keith, moving quickly down the stage-steps, pauses at the door, recognizes the patient reporter. "We'll see you at the hotel, right?"

At the hotel, I'm told by someone in Keith's room that he is busy... something about a TV interview. At the suite where the Japanese crew is set up and waiting, all is hushed. At 9, on time, Jagger arrives, all washed up and dressed in white football jersey, number 86, and chartreuse bellbottoms. For the next 15 minutes, he is terribly civil, smiling in anticipation of each question, telling his Japanese audience how their government's refusal of a visa for him made him "unhappy, very dishonored," how he would still like to visit Japan, even if just as a tourist, "to go to the country as well as the town." Asked about chopsticks, Mick formed his biggest smile, flashed the diamond set into one of his front teeth, leaned forward, and told how an "old Chinese gentleman" taught him to handle the sticks, how Mick still hadn't learned to eat without letting the sticks touch his lips. The Japanese interviewer smiled automatically and moved on to the next question.

In the elevator, Mick laughed it up with Marshall Chess, president of Rolling Stones Records, imitating a Japanese accent. "That chope-stock bit," he said, giggling, hand to the face, "that's bullshit. I made it up." He said we could talk at the party after the second show.

Mick Jagger Through the Years

The second show Monday night is the upper, the breakthrough the Stones needed. All the charter-flown audiences are here raving it up. Honolulu meets San Francisco by way of Jerry Palmer, who looks to be the gay community's queen bee, standing tall in black turtle-necked leotards, boosted by four-inch heels on white sequined slipper shoes. His nails are dipped in silver, his face and mouth in lava red. His glittering hair is shaped to give him the look of a Roman, with maybe a stardusted artichoke squashed on his head. And that dance she is doing, aimed at Mick, is not the Hula.

Chip Monck has the overhanging 10-by-40 Mylar mirror tilting back and forth, so that from backstage, where the seven Super-trouper spotlights are fixed like anti-aircraft machinery, you see the people in repetitive waves, all seemingly flying backward, now forward, as they stand on their chairs. The house lights are up and the kids are allowed, as they have been the previous two shows, to move towards the stage. On "Street Fighting Man," Keith pounds and sashays away on his five stringer, completes his break and rolls his eyes toward Mick, proud. Rose petals and orchids fly out to the audience, and the band members march down the stairs, into the sleek limos, one blue, one white, one black, sweeping out behind the flashing blue lights of the Honolulu police escorts. The Rolling Stones' 1973 American tour is over.

Back at the hotel, the word spreads: There is no party. Instead, Nicky Hopkins will leave his wife Lynda and come down for a drink.

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