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July 20, 1975: Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA (with special guest Elton John)
*Click for MORE STONES ON VIDEO
I love history. All kinds of history, whether it be the kind that you learn in school, sports history, music history – any kind of history really. That’s why when I found out about the night the Rolling Stones played with Elton John at the old Hughes Stadium, I was really intrigued. But more than just that, the events that took place that night really got me hooked. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones have been and always will be known as one of the greatest and most influential bands in the history of rock and roll. Same goes for Elton John. They both have not only stood the test of time, they have kicked Father Time right in the teeth and are still going strong. Keith Richards has to be about 157 years old by now…
While there have never been any concerts at the current Canvas Stadium, once upon a time there was a venue called Hughes Stadium, which was where the CSU Rams used to play football. It was located in the foothills a few miles from campus and in the mid-70s, they brought a few big names there for concerts. Apparently the traffic got so bad that it was backed up to I-25 and on I-25 from the Harmony exit back past the Windsor/392 exit. Acts like Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and Chicago played at Hughes, but the biggest one was the night the Rolling Stones played in front of over 40,000 people on July 20, 1975. They also invited their good buddy Elton John to join them, a decision they would later regret.
It’s pretty funny because the original plan was for Elton to join them for one song – “Honkytonk Woman” – and then bail out but that didn’t happen. According to Elton John himself in his autobiography “Me”, “[he] was coked out of his mind” and overstayed his welcome by staying on stage with the Stones for an extra 10 songs or so. They couldn’t get him off the stage and nearly brawled. According to reports, here’s a little rundown of how things went: This was the infamous show when Elton John, dressed in an L.A. Dodgers windbreaker and cowboy hat, joined the band on stage for their opening number “Honky Tonk Woman,” which reportedly was the only Stones song he knew at the time.
Mick Jagger later introduced Elton as “Reg from Watford.” After several songs, John reappeared and remained until “Midnight Rambler,” ten numbers later! Billy Preston and Ian Stewart were reportedly upset with John’s aimless noodling, as was Keith Richards, due to his presence hampering access to the keyboards throughout the performance. Numerous statements from concert-goers recall people booing, and the band having a difficult time getting him to leave the stage.
After the show, the Stones even turned down Elton’s offer to take a helicopter to a ranch for a barbecue. If you were there that night, this should be bring back some memories. Or, if you’re like me and were not, here’s a look at some memories from that memorable and I’m sure incredibly awesome night in Fort Collins.