WEEK OF 19 NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS |
Steve Morse, The Boston Globe, 22 September,
1981 (reprinted with permission)
The whole Rolling Stones mess has left psychic scars that will be hard
to forget. By the end, it had deteriorated into a nasty, pitched battle
between clubowners, fans, politicians, promoters, and the media, each
desperately wanting a piece of the action.
It feels like a week-long purgatory has ended. Or maybe a jail
sentence. Or maybe just a bad dream.
There were no winners in all of this. The band didn't get to play their
sneak concerts. The fans didn't get to see them. The media behaved
recklessly. And the toll, financially and psychologically, was
Friendships were severed. Relationships were left reeling. And
reporters were left glued to the phone, tracking down non-leads,
swirling through off-the-record statements, getting unfathomable
quotes from Stones tour producer Bill Graham and being humbled
to the point of complete frustration.
All because the band, as Graham said, wanted to play a few "throwaway
gigs." But there are no throwaway gigs with the Rolling Stones. Now
that Led Zeppelin is gone, the Who has changed, and John Lennon is
dead, only the Stones remain to carry the banner of rock's '60s
It was no wonder the local demand to see them was so great, because
there are thousands of fans here who have never seen them and who won't
rest until they do. Those fans have put up with myriad Stones clone
groups touring the area, but this was the real thing.
And so the hysteria kept building, causing the band to cancel last
night's planned sneak concert at the Opera House. Despite the
grandstanding of Mayor Kevin White who had also offered them a free
City Hall Plaza show while naively assuming there'd be only 40,000
people there (try 400,000) the band chose to put a lid on the
madness, rather than fuel it even more.
"The Rolling Stones have changed governments, and they're not going to
be that concerned about a mayor," Stones publicist Paul Wasserman had
said earlier. Putting the issue into perspective, he added: "With all
the attention the Stones received, you'd think there was no other
story. Hey, isn't Boston having trouble getting its schools opened?"
The reason, of course, the media went whole hog was that the band so
arrogantly left them out of last week's lone sneak concert at Sir
Morgan's Cove in Worcester. The battle lines were drawn.
Although that night's mood was quite peaceful the waiting crowd of
1500 was demoralized by the rain irresponsible reporters
highlighted a couple of bottle-throwing incidents, thus causing the
band to become personae non grata in Boston until Mayor White tried to
"One minute we were lepers. The next minute we were tulips," as Graham
Behind the scenes, promoters also lashed at each other. Boston's Don
Law and Providence's Frank Russo were again claw to claw. Russo missed
out on the coup of a lifetime when the Stones slipped through his
fingers for a Providence show Saturday, chiefly due to illness within
the band. "We owe you one" the group's entourage later told him.
The week's events were an intolerable merry-go-round. The band itself
behaved badly, having not scheduled Boston in the first place and then
announcing last-minute cancellations which left fans stuck out in the
rain and cold, waiting for tickets.
Although Graham said the band will return to "the scene of the crime"
to later play Boston, thank God that for now the treasure hunt is
As one exhausted source said, "My wife's about ready to walk out the
door. And so is my dog."