Imagine my surprise last week, when I found out that Sir Mick Jagger is 78 years old. In full disclosure, The Rolling Stones are my favorite rock band and I have spent most of my life trying to be either Jagger or Jim Morrison or some combination of the two. Even now, I do. But I must admit, it has been a long time since I worried about Mick’s birthday, so to say I was shocked was an understatement.
However, it got me thinking about one of my favorite Rolling Stones moments. It was 1978 and the album, “Some Girls,” had just been released, and I bought it immediately. It featured the hits, Miss You and Beast of Burden, on it, plus other great tunes. It was the first Stones’ studio album that had Ronnie Wood playing on it full time. I was in love with it and to make things better the Stones were coming to the Hampton, VA Coliseum and I had tickets. Then, like today, tickets to a Stones show were gold.
However, these were interesting times for the Stones. Rock critics were beginning to question the relevance of the Stones, as the Punk Music period was already underway. It is hard to imagine this happening, but it did. And, why were the Stones being questioned about their rock integrity? It was their age.
You see, old man Mick was 35, or 43 years younger than he is today. But, in 1978, a rock star who was 35 was a unicorn. Other than Elvis, they did not exist. So, the stars of the 1960s were entering uncharted territory and the detractors were brutal. They had made caricatures of many of the “British Invasion” stars and the Stones were not given a break. It was like watching your heroes being torn down.
And it did affect the Stones. Their “Some Girls” tour was subdued, very subdued compared to their other arena tours, going as far back as 1969. The Stones had almost invented the “raunch-and-roll rock-n-roll show.” Their shows were known for being harsh, loud, and dirty, but in 1978 it was now being toned way down.
For years, I have been fascinated by this occurrence. It has often crossed my mind what a strange time it was for the Stones. During this tour, “Rolling Stone” magazine printed a harsh and brutal article about how bad the Stones’ tour was going. Every show had sold out, but they had not sold out fast enough. Their album was #1, but it was not selling enough. This article was so damming that is pissed me off. I was hot, as any fan would be.
This article has stuck with me for over 40 years, and I have tried to track it down on the “interwebs” but with no luck. It is like it has been wiped from the memory of man. But I remember it enough that I have looked for it many times over the years. It has, however, vanished into the abyss.
When I went to the concert, I was ecstatic. I loved the show but, yes, it was restrained. There was no flashy stage sets and the stage clothes were diminished. Mick even played guitar and was part of the rhythm section at times. But it was still the Rolling Fu$%ing Stones.
The Rolling Stones’ Beast of Burden (from “Some Girls, Live in Texas ’78”) shows their greatness.
All the talk of the Stones being done was silliness. Forty-three years later and they’re still selling out shows and rocking the stadiums. It was a strange time and place when 35 was old. But, what about you? Are you feeling old? Don’t. Remember, Jagger is 78 and he is still the “Little Red Rooster.”
The moral of the story is don’t let others dictate who you are. Don’t let others tell you how to act your age. It is your life and live it your way. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your happiness. You are you.
I saw the Stones twice more, in 1981 and 2005. Both shows were excellent, as you would expect. Once a Stones fan, always a Stones fan. The 1981 show brought the Stones back in full force. The show was once again in Hampton and it would be the first concert to be broadcast live on pay-per-view and the entire tour was highlighted in the film, “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”
The other great highlight of that ‘81 show was seeing Keith Richards kick some guy’s ass on stage with his guitar. I was there to see it all. What a ride!
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Hampton Live 1981 OFFICIAL
Check the 1:15 mark.
So, the next time you feel old, put on some Stones and jam to the music and jam loud. Dance, sing, and pretend you’re kicking some guy’s ass with your guitar. It will make you feel better.
Because it is Only Rock and Roll, but I Like It!
Joseph St. John