The Stones Tour: Rock and Roll On the Road Again

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"Dear Mr. Graham," began the letter in Bill Graham's San Francisco office, "To stand in line for ten hours is one fucking bummer. To stand in line because some computer can't get it's shit together is a little better than being front row center at Altamont. The entire day left me with sticky fingers and a bad taste in my mouth. Jim Reed."

"Dear Bill," began the letter received after Mr. Graham announced that all those shut out of tickets for the first show at the L.A. Forum would have a chance at buying for the second; "You've restored my faith in rock 'n' roll. Thanks for the letter. The tickets I'd like are . . ." It was signed Jim Reed.

"It's cock rock," said the pamphlet they were handing out in the street in Seattle. "Isn't it a drag to be told that the only real men are those who want to be like John Wayne or Mick Jagger? Wouldn't you rather just be yourself? Rock music should be everyone's music. Rock culture should be everyone's culture. There will be no free men until there are free women."

"Don't waste your life on dope and music," the burly soldier for God outside of the Palladium in L.A. shouted through a megaphone, "It's people like you going to see rock and roll concerts that's got the world so screwed up. More Bible, less Rolling Stones."

"I'll have ten bikes, 40 men on foot, men in cars, two helicopters if I need 'em and five thousand men to back me up," the L.A.P.D. sergeant told Peter Rudge. Under a starburst chandelier over an orange knit carpet around a polished wooden table sat the promoters and employees of the Hollywood Palladium. "Anything comes down that street without a ticket goes right back up it," the Sergeant said, "They come on motorcycles, give 'em tickets. The city can use the money."

Downstairs a Yorty for President party was going on. The people there would have been disturbed by the hair upstairs but not by the sentiments expressed.

"All our vents are wired," one of the Palladium people said proudly. "They'll be cops watching from across the street. 'No Stopping' signs on the streets, no garbage cans around, nothing that can be lifted or thrown within the vicinity of the hall. And the L.A. police will be there when we need them. They're crack."

"Yes," Peter Rudge sighed, "but they're not what rock & roll's about, are they?"

"I remember," Bill Graham said one mellow tour night, "When a kid would run up the stairs of the old Fillmore, give in his ticket, grab an apple and rush out on the floor and be swallowed in a circle of dancing, happy people he'd never seen before. Those days are over . . . the days when it was a life experience for everyone. When I'd get up at seven and be happy to start work." He sighed, "Now I don't know what's going on. It's changed, though. That much I'm sure of."

* * *


The Rolling Stones 1972 tour of America and parts of Canada began with Marshall Chess hanging off a pay phone in an air terminal full of charming old biddies waiting for charter flights to Malaga and Oakland A's baseball fans in flowered shirts.

Marshall Chess is saying, "Yes, the Prime Minister, yes . . . Tell Mr. Trudeau that if we are not permitted to land at Vancouver there will be a delay that will make 17,000 people feel . . . aroused."

After a bus ride through foggy smogged-out L.A. on a Saturday morning with the bank temperature clicking at 67 degrees and Peter Rudge, the man responsible, saying "We're about to hit the beaches, we're about to hit the beaches," the Rolling Stones tour party has arrived to find their charter airplane will not be allowed to land in Vancouver. Will not. Robert Frank, photographer and filmmaker, the man who shot the Exile on Main Street cover and filmed the very long, weird business meeting between Alan Klein and Mick Jagger in New York is getting all the confusion on film, all the officials passing the buck and shrugging their shoulders, mumbling about hijacking. (Frank, a total professional, immediately established his credentials on the bus ride to the airport as he takes hold of a passing joint, puts it to the lens and films it, then passes it on without missing a beat.)

Wandering through the terminal, trying for a beer at the flyspecked lunch counter are Bob Gibson, Hollywood press agent extraordinaire, a tour doctor, a tour make-up man, two tour accountants, the tour roadies, Alan Dunn, Jo Bergman, Pete Rudge . . . "So you see sir, we need your help in this matter as quickly as possible," Chess tells the Prime Minister's press secretary up in Ottawa. Full co-operation will be forthcoming, he is told.

But the plane has to leave immediately and takes off without permission to land in Canada. It touches down instead at a small, suburban airport in Washington state. The local folks are lined up and gawking. A fleet of six shiny Cadillacs await outside the port wing of a big charter plane with a funny red stuck-out tongue on the side. A door opens and out come the visiting dignitaries . . . Keith Richards first in a silver and black striped suit that glows in the dark, a two foot long yellow scarf covered with Tibetan prayers that used to hang as a window shade somewhere looped around his neck, Mick Jagger in a faded blue work shirt open to his waist and clinging white trousers. No sooner do they hit the concrete than they're off, running down the runway to dig the green mountains, the trees, two kids pointing and giggling. Mick runs back and sticks his head into the turbo jet, then plays with the propeller. The locals stand with their minds blown, and mouths open. Cadillacs zoom out towards Canada.

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