The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972
||This section may contain original research. (January 2008)|
||This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (March 2009)|
|The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972|
|Tour by The Rolling Stones|
|Associated album||Exile on Main St.|
|Start date||3 June 1972|
|End date||26 July 1972|
|The Rolling Stones tour chronology|
The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972, often referred to as the S.T.P. Tour (for Stones Touring Party), was a much-publicized and much-written-about concert tour of The United States and Canada in June and July 1972 by The Rolling Stones. Noted rock critic Dave Marsh would later write that the tour was "part of rock and roll legend" and one of the "benchmarks of an era."
The tour followed the release of the group's album Exile on Main St. a few weeks earlier on 12 May. But this was far more than a rock band's typical promotional tour following the release of a new recording. Rather, it became a major pop cultural event of the time. It came at the height of the Stones' reputation as "The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World," and attention was focused on the group's multi-edged visibility in popular consciousness: as purveyors of raw R&B carnal energy, and as the epitome of bohemian decadence, the band were seen as the opposite of the now-defunct, and relatively wholesome Beatles. At the same time, singer Mick Jagger was by now a glamorous celebrity who had moved into the jet set of high society. These aspects were all intertwined, and so the tour attracted much attention from observers of both high culture and low culture.
Press coverage 
Several well-established writers were assigned to cover the Stones jaunt, a first for a rock tour. Truman Capote, who had not published any significant new work since 1966's In Cold Blood but was still considered a celebrity of the highest caliber, was dispatched to cover the tour for Rolling Stone magazine with good friend and Kennedy family member Princess Lee Radziwill and her companion, the artist Peter Hill Beard. Capote, who was frequently drunk and high on tranquilizers, did not mesh well with the group and along with his entourage abandoned the tour in New Orleans, only to resurface for the final shows in New York's Madison Square Garden. Capote did not complete his feature, tentatively entitled "It Will Soon Be Here", out of boredom with the subject. Rolling Stone recouped its stake by interviewing Capote about the tour in 1973. More palatable was Terry Southern, who covered the tour for the Saturday Review and was good friends with Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Ultimately, the defining document of the tour came to be Robert Greenfield's S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones, published in 1974. Greenfield had already covered the band's 1971 British Tour for Rolling Stone and was granted unlimited access to the band's affairs. Greenfield was initially assigned as the magazine's sole correspondent on the tour, but then was relegated to "additional reporting" status by publisher Jann Wenner (akin to Timothy Crouse's status during the concurrent 1972 U.S. presidential election) after a last-minute deal was reached with Capote.
Such coverage was not limited to the print media. Dick Cavett hosted a one hour special shot before the concluding New York engagement of performances, that depicted a sheepish Stones bassist Bill Wyman smoking marijuana on national television. Capote, a regular on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and several other talk shows, regaled audiences with his misadventures on the road. New York radio host Alex Bennett breathlessly reported on the first Madison Square Garden show as soon as he got back from it.
Showing that the Stones' bad boy reputation was not just marketing hyperbole and actually had some effect on their fan base, a fair amount of physical conflict surrounded the tour. It started with the first show of the tour, on 3 June in Vancouver, British Columbia, where 31 policemen were treated for injuries when more than 2,000 fans attempted to crash the Pacific Coliseum. In San Diego on 13 June there were 60 arrests and 15 injured during disturbances. In Tucson, Arizona on 14 June, an attempt by 300 youths to storm the gates led to police using tear gas. Unable to secure a hotel to their standard in Chicago, the group decamped in Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion, described by most sources as a four day orgy interrupted by the occasional performance; Hefner, who did not attend any of the concerts out of what Greenfield described as "Manson paranoia," did not permit film crews into the mansion during the Stones' stay.
As the tour continued into July, so did the bedlam. There were 61 arrests in the large crowd at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on the Fourth of July. On 13 July police had to block 2,000 ticketless fans from trying to gain access to the show in Detroit. On 17 July a visit to the Montreal Forum saw all sorts of trouble: a bomb (allegedly placed by a Teamsters local) blew up in the Stones' equipment van, and replacement gear had to be flown in; then it was discovered that 3,000 forged tickets had been sold, causing a fan riot and a late start to the concert. The next day, 18 July, was no better. The Stones' entourage got into a fight with photographer Andy Dickerman in Rhode Island, and Jagger and Richards landed in jail, imperiling that night's show at the Boston Garden. Boston Mayor Kevin White, fearful of a riot if the show were cancelled, had to intervene to bail them out; the show went on, albeit with another late start. Mayor White pleading to the Garden crowd to remain calm. Dickerman would later file a £22,230 lawsuit against the band. The tour ended with three consecutive nights at New York's Madison Square Garden, the first night of which saw 10 arrests and two policemen injured.
To a lesser extent, this pandemonium extended to the touring party as well. The glamorous, jet-setting spouse Bianca Jagger often engaged in verbal fisticuffs with Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards' longtime companion. The 1969 Altamont free concert continued to haunt the band from every visage; a process server attempted to serve Jagger with papers relating to a lawsuit stemming from the concert while on the tarmac in San Francisco. Due to a rumored bounty from the Hells Angels calling for Jagger to be assassinated, Richards carried a .38 caliber revolver during the tour.
Sideman Bobby Keys, a seasoned sessionman who had played with Buddy Holly in his teens (providing a vital spiritual link to the 1950s rockers who the band and especially Richards admired) was one of the "stars" of the tour, with prominent saxophone parts in many of the songs' arrangements. According to Greenfield's account, Keys was accorded "Inner Circle" status alongside Jagger, Richards and the other Stones. In spite of this perception, Keys was dismissed during the subsequent 1973 European Tour when he failed to make several shows due a growing dependency on heroin.
The last show on 26 July, Jagger's birthday, was relatively peaceful; a party was held in Jagger's honor by Ahmet Ertegun afterwards that included Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Andy Warhol, the Capote entourage, and Zsa Zsa Gabor amongst the throng of attendees, with music from Count Basie. When prodded for reaction by an interviewer, the then-reclusive Dylan half-jokingly referred to the event as "the beginning of an all encompassing consciousness": rock and roll was now elevated by the "in crowd" to a heretofore unseen pedestal, with the Stones regarded as its avatars.
Many of the Stones' associates and collaborators did not survive the atmosphere of the tour. Marshall Chess, the band's de facto manager and head of Rolling Stones Records, lapsed into heroin addiction and lost over thirty pounds; he continued to work for the Stones at a diminished rate before leaving and detoxing in 1977. The rigors of the road exacerbated Nicky Hopkins' frail health; he too would battle drug addiction before undergoing the Church of Scientology's Purification Rundown several years later. Publicity coordinator Gary Stromberg, "one hundred percent fucked up" as per Greenfield's account at the conclusion of the New York run, was left on a boat off Fire Island to clean up; a "thirty percent fucked up" Stromberg would replicate his duties for T.Rex's first tour of America. Lighting director Chip Monck's experimental projection system proved to be a convoluted mess and major embarrassment, decimating much of his reputation of being at the vanguard of the field.
Record and film releases 
No live album was released from the tour, although one was planned as far as having a front and back cover designed and studio touch-ups being made on several recorded tracks. Eventually, the album was shelved due to contractual disputes with Allen Klein.
Two films of the tour were produced. The concert film Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones! only saw a limited theatrical release in 1974. Aside from an Australian VHS release in the early 1980s, it wasn't officially available on home video until 2010.
Robert Frank's (of "The Americans" and Pull My Daisy fame) Cocksucker Blues is an unreleased cinema verite documentary depicting concert footage, interaction with Warhol and the Capote entourage, flagrant drug use, Jagger masturbating, and staged group sex. Among the more placid scenes within the film was the sight of Richards and sideman Bobby Keys heaving a television set out the window from the tenth floor of a hotel. As Jagger felt that the band would not be granted work visas in the future if the documentary was released, it was shelved. As per court order, the film can only be screened publicly in the United States if Frank or an agent acting on his behalf is present. Nevertheless, Cocksucker Blues has been widely bootlegged over the years.
The shows 
||This section contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (March 2009)|
Fans of the band tend to divide the tour into three parts: the first part (Vancouver to Long Beach) features an under-rehearsed band, and the performances were still a bit rough. The second part (Los Angeles to Montreal) features some of the best shows of the tour, the band melding as a well-oiled machine and delivering highly energized performances. Many fans of the tour feel that the remaining part of the tour is somewhat marred by inconsistent performances resulting from exhaustion on the part of the band.
The rock critic Robert Christgau would write that the mood of the shows was surprisingly friendly, with Jagger "undercut[ting] his fabled demonism by playing the clown, the village idiot, the marionette."
Tour support acts 
Opening for the tour's shows was Stevie Wonder; this placement, along with his hard-edged hit of the time "Superstition" (released October 1972), did much to increase Wonder's visibility to rock audiences, at this the beginning of his classic period. Wonder would also sometimes join the Stones at the end of a night's performance.
Tour set list 
The standard set list for the tour was:
- "Brown Sugar"
- "Rocks Off"
- "Gimme Shelter"
- "Tumbling Dice"
- "Love in Vain"
- "Sweet Virginia"
- "Loving Cup"
- "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
- "All Down the Line"
- "Midnight Rambler"
- "Bye Bye Johnny"
- "Rip This Joint"
- "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
- "Street Fighting Man"
- Encore: often none, sometimes "Honky Tonk Women, a few times "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"/"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" medley performed jointly by the Stones and Stevie Wonder and his band
Only a few minor set list variations occurred from this, the exact number of which are subject to ongoing research. For instance, at least one of the shows in Denver opened with "Happy". Notably absent was anything from before 1968 in the Stones' catalog (excepting in the occasional encore medley), perhaps to showcase Mick Taylor's guitar work. This tour also marked the banishment of their dark epic "Sympathy for the Devil," which had been wrongly associated with the killing at Altamont, from Stones' American performances for much of the 1970s.
Tour dates 
- Greenfield, Robert. S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones. Reissued De Capo Press, 2002. ISBN 0-306-81199-5
- Carr, Roy. The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record. Harmony Books, 1976. ISBN 0-517-52641-7