Stones Bring Heat to Benefit

Free concert aids Natural Resources Defense Council

"I'm here because the Stones aren't term-limited, and they're as old as I am," Bill Clinton told 18,000 people packed into the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 6th. He was actually there to introduce the Rolling Stones at their first free show in thirty-three years, since the 1969 disaster at California's Altamont Speedway, where security was handled by Hell's Angels and a teenager was stabbed to death. And despite the sterile arena environment and a parking lot full of SUVs, the event provided a great platform for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that is targeting the issue of global warming.

The crowd -- which included California Gov. Gray Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz and Mira Sorvino -- saw a powerhouse two-hour-plus set that included "Street Fighting Man," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Start Me Up" and "Midnight Rambler." (An electrical problem during "Wild Horses" stopped the show temporarily.) The band didn't address global warming directly, except at one point when Keith Richards mumbled into the mike, "The Eskimos are feeling the pinch." But kiosks and informational posters were displayed around the venue to provide information on the NRDC and on the consequences and prevention of global warming.

NRDC Climate Center director David Hawkins said that the Stones were partially reimbursed for their expenses and that their association will help the NRDC's lobbying campaign immeasurably.

"I know some of you have paid $5,000 a seat to be here," Mick Jagger told the audience, referring to some of the event's big-money donors. "Some of you have paid nothing. But you know we're all doing the same thing: putting the spotlight on a very good cause."