LOS ANGELES – Danny has no shirt, no shoes, no wallet, no keys. The shirt went when he took it off and stuck it in his back pocket, the shoes, wallet and keys disappeared some time later. But it's all right. In fact, it's a gas. For Danny's just seen the Rolling Stones work and as he stands shoeless and bare-chested in the carpeted hallway of a Beverly Hills hotel, he's mumbling.
"They were so good, man, so good. The way they looked . . . like refugees from A Clockwork Orange . . . that makeup . . . Tell me, man, are they doing a lot of coke?"
After standing in line for 14 hours outside a store in the Century City shopping plaza and not getting any tickets, after going straight to the bank and withdrawing his life savings only to find that the tickets were going at $75 each, after spending a day on the phone getting hold of everyone he knew, he finally made someone an offer he couldn't refuse – two tickets to Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin at the Forum and the Grateful Dead at the Hollywood Bowl and 12 new albums – and all Danny had to do then was wait in line outside the Palladium for eight hours and he got to see them, the Rolling Stones.
You might say that Danny, a 17-year-old high school senior, is a Rolling Stones fanatic. A fan. Can you remember that word? From back in the Forties when girls swooned for Frank Sinatra, from the Fifties when they moaned for Elvis, from the Sixties when they threw jelly beans at the Beatles and fainted at airports?
Because it's happening again. As the Rolling Stones begin an eight-week cross-country tour, you can get just about anything you need with a spare ticket. In L.A., seven grams of hash and a $20 lid is considered a reasonable asking price. The Forum received 50,000 letters when they announced they were adding a second show. In Norfolk, Virginia, 14,000 Stones tickets were sold in four hours. Every hall in every one of the 30 tour cities is a complete sellout. Exile on Main Street is the Number One album in the country. Radio stations are playing Stones music non-stop and record stores have re-ordered grosses of all their old albums.
The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. With Presidential primaries going on, and nominating campaigns coming up, and the Vietnam War still raging, America is again bananas over an English rock & roll band. Blame it on the Rolling Stones.
* * *
BEFORE THE FACT
"Mao? . . . Mao! You are yes . . . the Mao Tse-Tung of rock. Sure you are Bill," Peter Rudge is saying to Bill Graham over the phone. Three days and counting, before the chartered airplane takes off for Vancouver and the first gig, and on the third floor of the Beverly Rodeo Hotel, all the doors are flung open, the beds covered with manifests and custom regulations, the halls filled with people with bloodshot eyes. "The people's promoter you are, Bill, yes . . . but now you're a film star too, like Jackie Gleason or Bob Eubanks. Yes you are. Only you're different . . . you made a million dollars before you won your Oscar . . ." Snap, snap, go Peter Rudge's fingers. Puff, puff on his cigarette. Through his nostrils plumes of smoke, as he goes into his rapid-fire David Frost delivery. "Just checkin' is all . . . our name is Sunday Promotions, ever hear of it? I know you're busy and all linin' up your concessions but the thing is, Bill, you've got to find out why they're charging seven dollars at Long Beach. Naughty, very naughty, Bill. Where does that extra half dollar go?"
Peter Rudge is the man responsible for everything on this Stones tour. Nothing moves without his final OK. Nothing gets bought without his seeing the purchase order. No one gets a pass to the hall that he has not personally countersigned. It is an awesome responsibility for one man. For even though Peter Rudge has run five tours for the Who, he has never seen one like this.
"This one?" he laughs. "This one is a military campaign. Truly. It's more than rock and roll. It's an event. Why, I don't know. People know the Beatles are gone and that Dylan will never tour again, so the Stones are the only one of that triumvirate they'll ever get a chance to see. It puts things on a grander scale. It's made me an answering service . . . when I've finished here, the only thing I'll be good for is managing political campaigns."
No one at the hotel has slept much in a week and things are getting, ah, a bit, strange. Chris O'Dell, the Stones L.A. person, the original Pisces lady from Apple, called a friend at six this morning to ask if he thought she was getting weird. "What are those funny black things?" she asks pointing to Alan Dunn's Eggs Benedict. "Benedicts," Alan says. Four-thirty in the afternoon and he's eating breakfast. "Haven't been able to get on the phone till now," he says. "Got any brown sauce for the eggs?" His official tour title is Transportation/Logistics which means he does everything Jo Bergman and Peter don't.
The main problem of the moment is getting the Stones plane to Vancouver ready in time to leave the day before. "Nothing serious," Peter says, "We're just walkin' there is all." Phone calls, negotiations, closed door meeting. Alan Dunn appears on the roof of the hotel next door, hooks one leg over the railing, lets go with the other hand and shouts, "I've got it. We'll take the Playboy plane to Seattle, fly Western to some logging port, then enter Canada by boat and there'll be no Customs."
"We own it don't we?" Rudge says, meaning Canada. "He says we do." He points to Alan. "If it's ours, there's no Customs."
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