The Rolling Stones American Tour 1969
|Tour by The Rolling Stones|
The generic tour poster, bottom filled by venue
|Start date||7 November 1969|
|End date||6 December 1969|
|No. of shows||24|
|The Rolling Stones concert chronology|
The Rolling Stones' 1969 Tour of the United States took place in November 1969. Rock critic Robert Christgau called it "history's first mythic rock and roll tour", while rock critic Dave Marsh would write that the tour was "part of rock and roll legend" and one of the "benchmarks of an era."
This was the Rolling Stones' first US tour since July 1966, with the absence partly due to drug charges and subsequent complications. Instead of performing in small- and medium-size venues to audiences of screaming girls, the band was playing to sold-out arenas with more mature crowds that were ready to listen to the music. They used a more sophisticated amplification system, and lighting was overseen by Chip Monck. It was Mick Taylor's first tour with the band; he had replaced Brian Jones that June, shortly before Jones's death, and had only performed one gig (the free concert in Hyde Park) with them before the tour.
The tour began on 7 November with a warm-up show at Colorado State University, and then proceeded generally west to east, often playing two shows a night. The tour's second stop, at The Forum in Los Angeles, attracted national media attention as the outing's formal opening. In his review of the shows on 27 and 28 November at New York City's Madison Square Garden, Francis X. Clines of The New York Times characterized the tour as "the major rock event of the year."
On November 23, the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. "Gimme Shelter" opened the show. The show closed with "Love in Vain" and "Honky Tonk Women." The band mimed to prerecorded tracks and Jagger sang live.
The final show of the tour as initially planned was on 28 November in New York City, but 30 November in West Palm Beach, Florida was added as a gesture to the organiser. The band also organised and headlined the free concert at Altamont on 6 December, which was tacked on at the end of the tour as a response to the high ticket prices of the tour itself.
Tour manager Sam Cutler introduced the Rolling Stones as "the greatest rock and roll band in the world", a title he had first bestowed upon them at their concert in London's Hyde Park the previous July. The tour set lists were derived mostly from 1968's Beggars Banquet album and the forthcoming Let It Bleed. The performance itself featured the Stones showmanship that would become familiar: Charlie Watts businesslike drumming leavened by an occasional wry smile, Bill Wyman's undertaker persona on bass, the guitar interplay of Mick Taylor with Keith Richards, and most of all Mick Jagger's prancing, strutting, leering and preening in front of the crowd. "Ah think I've busted a button on my trousers, I hope they don't fall down" he teased the audience. "You don't want my trousers to fall down, now do ya?" At one point in some shows, Jagger motioned for the audience to rush past ushers to the edge of the stage; of the group's reaction to the crowd's fervor, a spokesman said, "They loved it."
Shows sometimes ran past midnight, and the Rolling Stones' performance lasted about 75 minutes. Terry Reid, B.B. King (replaced on some dates by Chuck Berry), and Ike and Tina Turner were the supporting acts; audiences were typically in their seats for three hours, including long delays between acts, before the Rolling Stones materialised on stage. Janis Joplin joined the Turners at one of the Madison Square Garden shows.
The US was in political turmoil at the time, and some militant groups tried to portray the tour as a call for radical political action, especially in light of the Rolling Stones' 1968 track "Street Fighting Man". The Rolling Stones themselves had no such interest, and while on tour Mick Jagger publicly rebuffed a request for support from the Black Panthers. Stones media appearances during the tour featured typical banter of the time on other issues; while other members of the group affected boredom, Jagger gave non-sequitur responses to cultural questions, and said of New York, "It's great. It changes. It explodes."
The tour sold over $1 million worth of tickets, with ticket prices ranging from $3.00 to $8.00. This tour represented a new financial model for rock acts pioneered by Ronnie Schneider, the sole producer and financial manager of the tour. Schneider was the nephew of Allen Klein, who had been recently fired by Keith Richards and Sam Cutler.
Neither Schneider nor the Stones had any money at the time to fund this endeavor so Schneider had to come up with a new business model and that meant the band getting a piece of the gross box office and demanding a 50% advance, which funded the shows.
Schneider's role involved securing box office receipts on behalf of the band. In this way, the band itself (and Schneider, whose interests were aligned with those of the band) was in control of all the money related to a tour. On behalf of the Rolling Stones, Schneider centralized the control, ownership and management of ancillary rights, licensing and the marketing of posters, T shirts, programs and other concert related materials—-vastly improving the group's revenue base while touring. Many other bands followed suit throughout the 1970s.
The 1970 concert album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, mostly based on the Madison Square Garden shows, documented the tour, as did the Maysles brothers' 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter which, while mostly known for its filming of Altamont, also contains substantial footage of the band's performance during the tour at Madison Square Garden. Gimme Shelter also captures Jagger's famous response to a press-conference question about whether he was "any more satisfied now": "Financially dissatisfied, sexually satisfied, philosophically trying."
The Rolling Stones
- Mick Jagger – lead vocals, harmonica
- Keith Richards – guitar, backing vocals
- Mick Taylor – guitar
- Bill Wyman – bass
- Charlie Watts – drums
Tour set list
A typical set list for the tour included the following, although there were substitutions (note the presence of "Gimme Shelter" on Live'r Than You'll Ever Be and "Brown Sugar" was performed at Altamont), variations and order switches throughout the tour.
All songs by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted.
- "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
- "Carol" (Chuck Berry)
- "Sympathy for the Devil"
- "Stray Cat Blues"
- "Love in Vain" (Robert Johnson)
- "Prodigal Son" (Robert Wilkins)
- "You Gotta Move" (Fred McDowell/Rev. Gary Davis)
- "Under My Thumb"
- "I'm Free"
- "Midnight Rambler"
- "Live with Me"
- "Little Queenie" (Berry)
- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
- "Honky Tonk Women"
- "Street Fighting Man"
The final scheduled date of the tour was Boston, 29 November 1969. The West Palm Beach International Music and Arts Festival on 30 November and the Altamont Free Concert on 6 December were planned as separate events and added while the tour was in progress. A further four dates were completed in London, United Kingdom during December 1969, these were also separate events to the main tour.
- Robert Christgau, "The Rolling Stones", entry in The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll, Random House, 1980. pp. 198–199.
- Marsh, Dave (1987). Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-54668-7. p. 15.
- Mike Jahn (1969-11-28). "The Rolling Stones Are Still Exciting". The New York Times.
- "Rolling Stones Open Tour With West Coast Concert". Associated Press for The New York Times. 1969-11-10.
- Francis X. Clines (1969-11-28). "16,000 at Madison Square Garden Shout With Joy in Reaction to Sounds of Rolling Stones". The New York Times.
- Stephen Davis. Old Gods Almost Dead. New York: Broadway Books, 2001, ISBN 0-7679-0313-7, p. 307.
- The Rolling Stones (1969). The Stones in the Park (DVD released 2006). Network Studios.
- Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert (LP). Decca Records. 1970.
- Martin, Linda; Kerry Segrave (1993). Anti-rock: The Opposition to Rock 'n' Roll. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80502-2. pp. 160–161.
- Cutler, Sam. "You Can't Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones and other Wonderful Reprobates". Heinemann. 2008. ISBN 9781741666090