rolling stones boston 1972 coverFlashback


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The Rolling Stones live in Boston 1972
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July 18, 1972: Garden, Boston, MA, USA
Brown Sugar/Bitch/Rocks Off/Gimme Shelter/Happy/Tumbling Dice/Love In Vain/Sweet Virginia/ You Can’t Always Get What You Want/All Down The Line/Midnight Rambler/Band introduction/Bye Bye Johnny/Rip This Joint/Jumping Jack Flash/Street Fighting Man/Honky Tonk Women

The Rolling Stones began their 1972 S.T.P. (Stones Touring Party) American tour in support of the release of Exile on Main Street, which was in and of itself a push into new musical and commercial territory for the band. What happened next basically changed the rules of the game for The Stones and the music business, and it set the stage for a decade of massive, risk-taking tours that transformed from being straightforward promotional events into events that dominated pop culture. In terms of scale, attempted musicality, logistics, legal complications, drugs, women, humor, hangers-on, and general debauchery, this was unprecedented in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and all subsequent tours would be modelled after the 1972 tour. boston

After spending months in France at the now-famous Villa Nellcote recording Exile on Main Street, Keith Richards (who had been expelled from France due to drug charges) traveled to L. A., and it was there that the album was finished, remixed, and prepared for its May 1972 release. Eventually at this point it was time for a tour. The Stones, who were the biggest band in rock at the time and needed money, set out to organize a tour unlike any other, because they had not performed in America since the Altamont disaster in 1969 (which resulted in increased security, including private planes, limos, and higher stages to limit public access to the band) Legends are made of what transpired in June and July of 1972. There is a case that this is where the overused phrase “party like a rock star” originated.

A few of the legendary stories from the tour include the private plane with the recognizable tongue logo, the glitzy celebrity hangers-on, the traveling press corps, the enormous amount of drugs, and a widely publicized four-day orgy at the Chicago Playboy mansion. The press of the time covered the tour as if it was a presidential election. The innocence of the 1960s, which held the notion that rock could somehow change the world, had long since vanished. The Stones did it proud. They had grown into a fully developed, enormous business with all the requisite financial transactions, merchandise, and army of attorneys, handlers, and spiritual advisers. This tour was not intended to change the world; rather, it was about obtaining wealth, fame, not caring about people, being a celebrity, and exceeding all boundaries. boston

A combination of high and low society was brought together by The Stones on their STP Tour, which was almost unimaginable in rock music just ten years prior. Like members of the international jet set, including the very Mick Jagger and his wife Bianca. While there were other famous and glamorous frontmen, Mick was by this point on a different level, and his ego and paranoia grew along with it. Truman Capote, Terry Southern, and Robert Greenfield all covered the tour for different media. Capote was by this point a total drunk and drug addict. Even the Kennedys, who always seem to appear at key moments in culture, went on the tour. After-parties were frequently attended by Lee Radziwill and her husband, the artist Peter Beard.

After concentrating on New York society ladies, Capote must have felt he had been sent to Mars with this assignment. He must have left the tour in New Orleans (along with his own entourage) only to make a surprise appearance at the final performances at Madison Square Garden. Southern, and particularly Robert Greenfield, provided a more thorough account of the tour and produced some excellent writing. Crowd riots and arrests were commonplace at every stop on the 1972 tour. Keith’s drug use getting darker and him carrying a gun for the majority of the tour, the verbal sparring between rival divas Bianca Jagger and Anita Pallenberg, and Mick and Keith getting arrested in Rhode Island for fighting with photographer Andie Dickerman. Most interesting, once they all found their rhythm, The Stones (and company) were probably never musically better. They were focused on stage despite the swirl around them.

The Stones, led by Keith, really pushed themselves musically during the Exile recording sessions, bringing in a lot of support players. The best example of a supporting musician who would join the inner circle and play a significant role in shaping The Stones’ sound in the 1970s was horn player Bobby Keys. The best description of the tour was provided by Robert Greenfield: “The musicians completely locked into one another and on time, like a championship team in its finest most fluid moments. But only the people, who listen, like Ian Stewart, and the Stones themselves and their supporting musicians, are aware of the magic that’s going down. Everyone else is either worrying about logistics or trying to get off.” Rolling Stones S.T.P. tour anybody? boston

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