The Stones Tour: Rock and Roll On the Road Again

Page 7 of 8

A discussion then began on the various devices Mick might use on stage. Balls of confetti that you can light and float over the audience. Guns that shoot string foam from between one's legs.

"A rope, Chawlie," Mick said, "We could swing on stage over the amps."

"You could," Charlie said.

"I would," Mick answered.

"I know," Charlie smiled. He hadn't slept well the past few nights. Hotel rooms make him jumpy. "You close the door and there you are alone. Then what?"

Champagne and orange juice is making the rounds and there's a table of yogurt and raw vegetables in the galley. Half of the plane's seats have been ripped out so there's room to sprawl on the floor, walk around, and laugh. "Jack Nitzsche," Charlie says, "He's the funniest man I know, Jack is. Played tambourine on 'Satisfaction,' y'know. Ee'll ask you somethin' then say 'Well, if that's your opinion of it. If that's how you really feel' . . . Won't see 'em for months an 'Gimme a beer' '11 be the first thing he'll say. You've got to meet him, honestly."

The plane comes in through the San Francisco sunset and lands at a private air terminal and the Stones are whisked into town by those omnipresent black limousines. There follows a long discussion about whether to stay in the hotel rooms they've been given in a low dormitory-like building that also houses the Japanese consulate.

For the next four days, the Stones see San Francisco as they always see a town, going out suddenly on chauffeured raids to places only they can get into. Bill Graham throws a party for them at the Trident on the night when it's usually closed. Frank Werber, its owner and former manager of the Kingston Trio, gets permission to stay out that night until midnight before having to report back to jail to serve time on his sentence for possession of marijuana. Two nights later, there's a plan afoot to catch the Isley Brothers at a club across the bay. The Stones entourage files out through the lobby. Limo hopping in the fine San Francisco mist. Eye games. Is it OK to get into this one? Who's that person? What's your function here? Who's a closer friend of which Stone? As always, the games go on around the Stones. They really have little to do with any of it.

When along comes a man talking loudly, telling Bobby Keys, "If you knew as much about mouthpieces as you think you do, you'd blow some that wind into your horn . . ."

Like a chill wind cutting through the parking lot. People wheel around. Who is this man who dares to talk that way to a member of the band? Groupies shiver in the night. He gets into a car and is gone and the limousines roll away one by one into the night, leaving those not quick enough behind.

But Bill Graham's throwing another party, this one in a French restaurant downtown and it promises to be a quiet evening, what with the boys off and gone to dig the Isleys. The French restaurant is all gold and burgundy silks gathered at the ceiling and mirrors on the wall. Ah, chilled white wine. Ah, escargots. Gilt and continental service. Ah, four black limousines that pull to a stop outside the door and deposit Mick, Keith, and the entire gang. "The Isley's weren't on," Keith explains, sinking slowly into a chair at the head of one of the tables, "so 'ere we are."

Bill Graham is at another table, beaming like a proud uncle. Across from him Tommy Thompson of Life magazine is talking to Mick. Tommy is a tall, prosperous-looking man who wears loafers with chains on them. "I talked to every kid who came out of the concert," he says, "and they all said they could see you and there were no hassles, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?" Mick looks red-eyed and weary. "I remember balling her on a sink in your bathroom," someone tells Bobby Keys. A guy at the end of Keith's table is about to nod into the framboise and fresh cream.

"Are you living in the South of France?" Tommy Thompson asks Mick. "I bet the Chancellor of Exchequer is happy about that."

"Demiiiiiiii-taaaaaaaaaasse," moans the guy next to Tommy into his coffee making more sense than anyone else in the room. It's the stranger, from the parking lot, undaunted by the fancy service and the polite conversation.

"Bill," the stranger's voice booms out. "Bill, don't release the film, huh? Don't let it out. I beg ya."

"In years to come, Jack," Bill Graham tells him, "When you think of this moment . . . be very careful."

He gets up to leave and says, "Billll, don't let that film out, huh, willlya?" "Whew," Tommy Thompson says after he's gone. "I thought you handled that well," he congratulates Graham, "What's his name?"

"Nietzsche," Bill Graham says slowly. And from just outside the door, you can hear Jack's final comment on the evening. "A double stinger, please," he says politely.

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