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April 22, 1979: Civic Auditorium, Oshawa, Canada (2 shows)
The Stones followed the New Barbarians, performing two benefit concerts for the blind, as part of fulfilling Keith’s Toronto sentence the year before. John Belushi introduced the band onstage. This also marked the last time the Stones did two concerts on the same day.
Setlist: Prodigal Son/Let It Rock/Respectable/Star Star/Beast Of Burden/Just My Imagination/When The Whip Comes Down/Shattered/Miss You/Jumping Jack Flash (Ref. civic center)
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It was the day when the Rolling Stones – the biggest band in the world – came to town to play two benefit shows at the old Civic Auditorium, with proceeds going to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
The concerts were guitarist Keith Richards’ sentence for his conviction in 1978 on heroin charges after being arrested at the Harbour Castle Hilton in Toronto the previous year.
It was an unusual sentence for sure – Richards was facing as much as seven years in prison – but then, Keith Richard was no ordinary addict, and with a courtroom full of Rolling Stones fans, some wearing t-shirts that said “Free Keith,” it certainly was no run-of-the-mill trial either.
Judge Lloyd Graburn told the court heroin addicts should go to jail if they turn to crime to support their habit but Richards had all the money he needed, so the Judge looked for another solution. And after hearing from a blind fan of the band who praised the guitarist, Judge Graburn sentenced Richards to one year’s probation and ordered the band to play two shows to benefit the CNIB within six months of the sentencing.
The CNIB’s own auditorium only held 250 people and when they chose the date for the shows the Toronto Maple Leafs were deep into a playoff run, so Oshawa and the 5,000-seat capacity Civic was chosen for the gigs, which would include an opening set by the New Barbarians, a Ronnie Wood-fronted band that had just been formed and included former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan and jazz/fusion legend Stanley Clarke on bass.