The Rolling Stones live in New York City, July 26 1972
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July 26, 1972: Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY, USA. Bob Dylan attends the show and the Stones party afterwards.
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/Happy Birthday Mick/Uptight-Satisfaction
From The Fat Angel Sings:
On JULY 26, 1972, Mick Jagger celebrated his 29th birthday on stage at Madison Square Garden as The Rolling Stones brought down the curtain on what was arguably the most chaotic tour of their career.
Promoting their Exile On Main St album, musically speaking The Stones were in ferocious form, as this rough-edged soundboard recording of Jumping Jack Flash taken from the soundboard at their NY show proves.
Over 500,000 people mailed in postcards for the mere chance to buy a pass to one of the four shows at Madison Square Garden. Purchases were limited to two per customer at a sticker price of $6.50, but the market was soon flooded with scalped passes that were being hawked at $50 or more.
After months of anticipation, the S.T.P. tour—which, depending on who you asked, either stood for the synthetic hallucinogenic of the same name or simply the Stones Tour Party—kicked off in Vancouver on June 3rd, 1972. The band and its managers picked this far-flung locale to start their summer swing so that they could knock off the rust before taking their show to more media-saturated markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The gig went well. The stop in Seattle went better, and by the time they made it to the Winterland Ballroom in the “City by the Bay,” they were cooking.
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“New York is New York is New York,” famed concert promoter Bill Graham explained to author Robert Greenfield, who tagged along for most of the tour and penned the book A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones. “’Til you do it there, it hasn’t happened. They could have sold the Garden out for a year. They are the biggest draw in the history of mankind. Only one other guy ever came close—Gandhi.”
New York was ready for the Stones, and the Stones were more than ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple. The band’s four shows spread over three nights at Madison Square Garden were the unquestioned highlights of the tour, with the final night pegged as the can’t-miss gig. Everyone wanted in on the action.
The scene backstage before the last show is a madhouse. Television host Dick Cavett is on hand to interview Mick Jagger and the rest of the band for an hour-long special. This famous face and that famous face drift in and out of view hoping to get a coveted moment of personal time with someone in the band before they make their way out in front of the masses. Few are successful. Makeup is applied, last-minute documents are signed and the tequila sunrises flow like water.
Before the Stones can take the stage at MSG, the audience is treated to a searing set of music from the opening act, Stevie Wonder, who is just then promoting his latest album, Music of My Mind while on the verge of putting out an even greater work, Talking Book. It was a huge coup for the headliners to get the Motown piano virtuoso at this precise moment. His single “Superstition” is one of the biggest songs of 1972, well on its way to claiming the top spot on the charts a few months down the road.
Stevie Wonder is the perfect foil for the Rolling Stones. He isn’t going to compete with them on their terms like another white blues-based rock band like Humble Pie or the Allman Brothers might. He’s a different thing entirely. His stage show, while rapturous, is centered on his superb musicianship, his incredible songwriting and his own joyful persona.
A little under an hour after Wonder leaves, the Stones make their grand entrance and launch into “Brown Sugar.” Jagger appears dazzling in his sleeveless white jumpsuit, dotted with big sparkling sequins, and a long red sash tethered at the waist. A single, large aquamarine jewel is glued to the center of his forehead. His main foil and “Glimmer Twin” Keith Richards, ever the rock ’n’ roll pirate, is decked out in black leather pants and a flowing, white blouse, which is left unbuttoned to reveal his gleaming white, sweat-glazed chest.
Jagger eats up most of the attention, hopping across the stage, preening like a prized turkey. His arms flail all around, pointing in multiple directions one moment and enticing the crowd to clap along in the next. “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in the market down in New Orleans.” The subject matter is chilling, but the thousands singing along sound positively ebullient shouting back each word at their puffy-lipped Messiah.
The pace picks up even more on the next song, “Bitch,” which is played at a far faster clip than the recorded version. By the time they get to “Gimme Shelter” they’re locked in. The shot of adrenaline that comes from getting smacked in the face by 18,000 people simultaneously has worn off, and the Stones settle into their regular groove.
“They had a unique lighting system that they invented,” photographer Bob Gruen told me. The rig was designed by Woodstock MC Chip Monck, who installed a 40-foot by 8-foot array of mirrors near the top of the front of the stage. It was set at a 45-degree angle and had lights shined into it and reflected back onto the band.
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Gruen explained, “Up until then in arenas, you had a large spotlight called a Super Trooper, this big carbon arc light up around the rafters in the arena shining down on the stage. They had eight Super Troopers at the back of the stage shining into this Mylar mirror, shining back onto the band. It was the brightest show I’ve ever seen.”
The Stones hit their marks with precision. Keith sounds appropriately cheery during his turn on the microphone for “Happy.” Charlie Watts keeps the party chugging along, crashing cymbals and kicking the hell out of his bass drum on “Bye Bye Johnny.” Mick Taylor sounds like a man possessed during his regular extended solo on “Midnight Rambler,” proving that he is the best pure musician in the band.
Still, it’s Jagger that the fans have come to see, and he doesn’t disappoint. The singer remains the ultimate icon of style and panache. Even with all the obvious effort and energy he expends on stage, he does so in a way that screams cool. When they reach the final song of the main set, “Street Fighting Man,” he’s flinging blood red rose petals over the heads of those screaming their vocal cords to shreds in the front row.
The night isn’t quite over yet. A few moments pass and the band reemerges for a rare encore with Stevie Wonder in tow to perform the latter’s hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” As that song comes to an end, Richards kicks into the instantly recognizable riff to “Satisfaction,” and he and the rest of the band take flight.
The performance is breathtaking. Bobby Keys’s sax mingles with Wonder’s backing band, transforming the straight-ahead rocker into a full, swinging soul sensation. Jagger is giving everything he’s got left in the tank, pushing his voice harder and harder, straining to be heard above the cacophony.
As the last notes of their biggest hit ping across the cavernous walls of the basketball arena, a giant, burning cake is brought onto the stage to commemorate Jagger’s 29th birthday. The crowd is enticed to sing “Happy Birthday.” Somewhere, someone picks up a pie and a full-on food fight takes place in front of thousands of fans. Only Watts seems to be off-limits from the chaos. Once the supply of pies runs out, Mick jumps forward to give the crowd a salute and then he and the rest of the band depart for the last time.
A few hours later, the Stones and their crew, along with a host of the well-to-do, find themselves at the St. Regis Hotel to take part in a final party hosted by Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegun. In jarring contrast to the friendly atmosphere inside the Garden, the mood here is almost somber. Everyone in the band are all physically and emotionally spent. The party wraps sometime around dawn and they all scatter to the wind.
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From The New York Times:
“Please allow me to introduce myself; I’m a man of wealth and taste,” Mick Jagger wrote in “Sympathy for the Devil,” the song sung at Altamont but conspicuously absent from the latest live performances of the Rolling Stones.
In the early hours of yester day morning, there was real wealth and weird taste in abun dance as 500 party‐goers joined the Stones at the St. Regis Roof after their Madison Square Gar den performance. They were there to celebrate the end of the rock group’s cross‐country tour and Mr. Jagger’s 29th birthday, high above and far from the crowd that had paid mere than $3‐million to hear them play.
For the paying fans, the party was over after Mick was pre sented with an immense birth day cake at the Garden and the band threw custard pies at him. But for the hundreds of social celebrities, rock‐industry offi cials and a handful of actual musicians, it had only just begun. By the time the last revelers stumbled out of the hotel at 6 A.M., it was evident that a new era of Rock Chic had begun.
The St. Regis affair was cre ated by Ahmed Ertegun, presi dent of Atlantic Records (which distributes the Stones albums), who is as well known for his social connections as he is for his business acumen.
It was a Felliniesque finale to the Stones tour. The guest list read like a who’s who of guest lists. Zsa Zsa Gabor was there in a tie‐dyed evening gown. So was Huntington Hart ford, George Plimpton, Diana Vreeland, Oscar de la Renta, Clyde Newhouse, Tennessee Williams, Woody Allen, Andrea Portago, Mr. and Mrs. Winston Guest and Mrs. Jacob K. Davits.
Count Basie and his band, alternating with the Muddy, Waters Blues Band, took turns entertaining dancers, with the embled of the Rolling Stones, a mammoth red tongue, emblazoned on the curtains behind them. Many sipped champagne. Some smoked marijuana. Others snorted cocaine.
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Bill Graham, who closed the Fillmore because rock was get ting too expensive, danced a sedate foxtrot. Andy Warhol took Polaroid photos. And Bob Dylan, who in younger days might have written derisive lyrics about such an event rather than participate in it, con versed earnestly with another popular conversationalist, Dick Cavett.
Mr. Dylan, in aviator glasses, a white fedora and checked shirt, was asked on his way to the bar what he thought of the crowd. “It’s encompassing,” he said, smiling broadly. Was this the end of rock ‘n’ roll or the start of something new? “It’s the beginning of cosmic consciousness,” he replied, the grin getting wider.
Just before 2 A.M. Mick Jag ger and his wife, Bianca, ar rived, looking almost ordinary compared with the multisex glamour that surrounded them. An hour later, the second cake made its entrance.
As Count Basie played in the background, the lid of the 5‐foot cake opened, and out popped Gerry Miller of Andy Warhol’s “factory,” nude except for two minuscule black pasties and a garter on her right leg. She pro ceeded to do a dance complete with gestures usually reserved for Eighth Avenue pornographic cinemas. Mr. Jagger, at whom the gestures were directed, clapped enthusiastically. Keith Richards, the Stones lead guitar ist, stared stonily at his drink.
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That was only the first of Mr. Ertegun’s surprises, how ever. Next, from behind they red‐tongue drapes, came four old‐time Harlem tap dancers, who shuffled through a long number to the dismay of some guests and tthe delight of Mr. Jagger.
“It’s exploitative,” said Mar joe, the hip former evangelist. “I felt like we should have thrown pennies.”
As the evening wore on, Mr. Jagger joined in one jam with Muddy Waters and Stevie Wonder. Then he and Bianca collected their birthday gifts (a cocaine snuff box, a photo of a nude woman and a silver cross, among other things) and departed.
Mr. Jagger thought the party was “lovely.” Rex Reed likened it to a Doris Day movie. And Clyde Newhouse, the art dealer, pronounced it “smashing, even though I didn’t get a pie thrown at me.”
But Peter Rudge, the gentle 25‐year‐old Briton who man aged the Stones’ eight‐week tour, looked at it from a differ ent perspective. “It’s a travesty; well, it’s ironic,” he said. I wonder how many of them”— he waved toward the party goers— “bought tickets.”
“This has been a rock ‘n’ roll tour for the kids and a social tour for everybody else,” he added.
It was also, apparently, a profitable tour for almost every one involved. Mr. Rudge, who is credited in large measure by insiders for its success, said expenses, exclusive of salaries, came to $800,000. With a $3‐ million gross, this would leave the Stones with more than $2‐ million to divide among a 14‐ man technical crew, musicians, stagehands, business represent atives and the rest of their entourage.
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Naturally, there will be a record album of the tour, just as there was of the Stones’ 1969 United States tour. The tapes for the album were made at the concert in Philadelphia last week. Actually, an unauthorized live album from a well known bootleg outfit, Rubber Dubber, was already being sold at $5 by the time the Stones got to Philadelphia.
Asked if he would have done anything differently on the 30‐ city tour, Mr. Rudge said, “I wouldn’t have landed in Providence, R. I., and I wouldn’t have parked the van outside the hall in Montreal.” He was referring to two of the most serious incidents, the arrest of Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards in Providence after a fight with a photographer and the bomb blast that damaged some speakers in Montreal.
While the final concert was in progress Wednesday night, several thousand fans outside the Garden fought police in brief skirmishes, with several youths reporting they Were clubbed.
Nevertheless, the tour, de spite small riots by fans who couldn’t get tickets in some cit ies, was free of the kind of tragedy that brought the group’s last American visit to a disastrous end. That was when a young man with a gun was knifed to death at the Stones’ free Altamont concert in northern California.
Mr. Ertegun speculated that the Stones would probably do a European tour next year, coming back here in perhaps 18 months. Meanwhile, the members of the band are scheduled to return soon to France, where they now live in order to avoid paying British taxes.
(Ref. new york)
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