These are sad times for rabid fans, like me, of the Rolling Stones. No, they didn’t announce they were calling it quits. It’s just that they should. How can a rabid fan want his favorite band to hang up their guitars you might ask? It’s because they just don’t give a shit anymore, at least not about us fans.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, the band members discussed the four gigs they’re playing this month—their first such appearances in six years. Although they all reported the band sounded great in rehearsals, there were a few cracks in the armor as to their attitudes going in. Mick Jagger made fun of 68-year-old Keith Richards for complaining about the weight of his guitar on his shoulders. Seventy-one year old drummer Charlie Watts now requires a full-time masseuse to rub down his back every 20 minutes or so. Ron Wood addressed the outrageous ticket prices with the lame excuse of, “We’ve already spent a million in rehearsals alone.” And Keith Richards wasn’t so cordial with his response that basically equated to “if you don’t want to pay it someone else will.” Nice.
They might sound like grumpy old men and they should. This year mark’s the band’s 50th anniversary. Fifty years is a long time. I’m not even 50 years old yet. It’s so long, in fact, that no other band in the history of rock n’ roll has ever reached that milestone. Oh, they’ve had a couple of personnel changes over the years, but their most junior member, Ron Wood, has been with them for the last 37 years. That’s a mighty long time of gathering moss in the form of fans and money.
Although their music has been ingrained in my noggin via FM radio since I was a little kid, I really didn’t “discover” the Stones until 1980, when a friend turned me on to the album Emotional Rescue. Since then I’ve acquired and cherished everything they’ve ever recorded. I’ve purchased more than 43 albums, first on vinyl and then again on CD. I’ve bought and read every biography—authorized and unauthorized—about both the band and its individual members. I’m a walking encyclopedia of useless Stones facts, figures and trivia. I’ve also seen them live five times since 1989. Only once did I receive free tickets. Otherwise, they never let me in for anything less than a C-note. And of course, I bought the T-shirt.
I would estimate that I have given Mick and the boys literally thousands of my disposable income dollars over the last 32 years. And I know other, even more rabid fans who have likely trumped that amount by thousands more. Vinyl, CDs, MP3s, tickets, T-shirts, posters, books and other crap with the famous tongue logo don’t come cheap.
Maybe that’s why I’ve found it very hard to stomach their new attitude of not giving a shit. I can hear Mick now: “Oh, we’ll do two gigs in London and two in New York. The fans can come to us. They’re lucky that we’ve even agreed to roll out of bed this decade for performances at all, so they’ll pay dearly.” What about paying us back for keeping you popular for half a century?!
I’m sorry, but I feel like the Stones owe us for making them so wealthy that each member’s entire future family lineage will be rich beyond their wildest dreams, even if they never even met great-great granddaddy Keith. And I think I’m not alone.
The Stones recently posted on Facebook that good seats were still available for a show they were playing the very next night. I followed the link and sure enough, I could get tickets in the risers four rows off the floor—for $831 each, face value. I don’t know which part of the equation depressed me more—the price or the availability. I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I don’t have to like it.
Chuck Crowder is a local writer and man about town. His opinions are his own.