rolling stones oakland california 1978 coverFlashback

ROLLING STONES FLASHBACK: LIVE IN OAKLAND 1978

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The Rolling Stones live in Oakland 1978
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July 26, 1978: Alameda Coliseum, Oakland, CA, USA
Let It Rock/All Down The Line/Honky Tonk Women/Star Star/When The Whip Comes Down/Beast Of Burden/Lies/Miss You/Just My Imagination/Shattered/Respectable/Far Away Eyes/Love In Vain/Tumbling Dice/Happy/Sweet Little Sixteen/Brown Sugar/Jumping Jack Flash/Satisfaction

From Datebook (The San Francisco Chronicle):
In a long history of Rolling Stones shows in the Bay Area, it’s hard to beat the hype and spectacle of July 26, 1978.

The band scheduled the performance at Oakland Coliseum on Mick Jagger’s 34th birthday, announcing the show just two weeks earlier. The concert was set for a Wednesday during the day, with expectations of mammoth traffic jams and widespread playing-of-hooky in the Bay Area.

And some fans, showing very little foresight, were convinced the Stones show could be the end for the British rockers.

“This might be the last time anybody ever gets to see the Stones,” said Dru Berkett, 18, of Hillsborough, waiting outside the stadium the night before.

Not even close, it turns out. The Rolling Stones — including Jagger, 41 birthdays later — return to Levi’s Stadium on May 18. But for the 64,000 fans who spent $12.50 to attend the fourth Day on the Green, the experience would be hard to forget.

The Rolling Stones hadn’t planned to play the Bay Area on its 1978 U.S. tour, supporting the new album “Some Girls.” But promoter Bill Graham managed to squeeze one more show out of the band, adding the Oakland concert at the end of the tour.

The “Very Special Day on the Green” sold out in less than 24 hours, with general admission tickets initially being scalped for five times the listed price. The Chronicle seemingly sent half the newsroom to cover the story — big names including Steve Rubenstein, Ruthe Stein and Peter Stack all wrote articles. Arts editor and movie critic Stack interviewed fans lined up outside the Coliseum gates the night before, hoping to get general admission seating near the stage.

“It doesn’t make any difference how many people come,” said Leann Lloyd, 20, of San Jose. “The way we got it figured, when the gates open at 7:30, we’re just going to tear ass across the parking lot, and be first in line.”

After opening acts including Eddie Money and Santana, the Rolling Stones played 19 songs, including eight of the nine tracks on “Some Girls,” and an encore of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The Stones concert was the most prominent article on The Chronicle front page the next morning, after a busy news day that included the first birth of a test-tube baby, and a District Attorney’s office investigation of the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Rubenstein wrote: “The historic Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger passed his 34th birthday yesterday by dressing up in birthday-cake pink and white, dumping a pail of water on his head, climbing a scaffolding, belting his heart out and heaving his shoes into a sea of 64,000 dazzled faces in Oakland Coliseum.”

But that’s not to say that everyone walked away satisfied. The band took the stage more than two hours late, in a venue with little shade and the sun beating down. Rock music critic Joel Selvin called the performance “only a pitiful reminder of how great the Stones once were.”

“Watching the Rolling Stones put on a performance such as Wednesday’s ‘Very Special Day on the Green’ was about as inspiring as seeing Muhammed Ali get punched around by a nobody bum like Leon Spinks,” Selvin wrote.

The photos by Chronicle photographer Terry Schmitt show a lot of waiting around at the Coliseum, but mostly smiling faces in the audience. The Chronicle published an entire story, written by Stein, about fans who had skipped school or work to come to the show.

Secretary Debbie Zajacka told her boss she would be missing work for the concert, and even got an advance on her salary to pay for the ticket.

“I have a really nice boss, and she said it was OK,” Zajacka told The Chronicle. “But I would have come even if she had told me I was fired.”

Others didn’t tell their bosses. The Stones, less than a third of the way into their existence as a band, were already developing a holy glow.

“People take off for religious holidays,” another fan told The Chronicle. “This isn’t any different.”

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