5 unforgettable Rolling Stones gigs
The Rolling Stones, from left, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards, are shown April 2, 2008 at the London premiere of their concert film Shine A Light. (Kieran Doherty/Reuters)
On July 12, 1962, the Rolling Stones debuted at London's venerable Marquee Club, the jazz, blues and rock venue that helped nurture the British pop music scene.
Five decades on, the blues and R&B-influenced band is still hanging on in the public spotlight, albeit largely through solo projects, the release of remastered albums, their participation in films and as the subject of art exhibitions.
Still, according to occasional reports from band members, the boys never rule out getting back into studio for a new album and, naturally, an international tour.
To mark the Stones' anniversary, we take a look back at five performances indelibly etched into our collective memory. Hey, it's only rock 'n' roll, but we like it.
5. El Mocambo, Toronto, 1977
In 1977, a band billed as "The Cockroaches" joined April Wine to play two shows at the El Mocambo bar in downtown Toronto. Four tracks recorded at the ElMo made it onto the Love You Live album and the secret shows were an early instance of what would become somewhat of a tradition: the Stones stopping in Toronto to play intimate gigs and to rehearse prior to hitting the road (including stops before launching the Voodoo Lounge, Bridges to Babylon, Licks and A Bigger Bang tours).
The visit was also infamous for two other reasons: Keith Richards' high-profile heroin bust (a conviction which he and the band ultimately resolved by playing an Oshawa, Ont. charity benefit for the CNIB) and news of Margaret Trudeau, wife of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, seen hanging out with the decadent, hedonistic Stones.
Mick and the boys also earned extra Canuck points for turning up on short notice to headline the 2003 Toronto Rocks concert -- dubbed SARSstock -- to help boost the city after the SARS outbreak.
4. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, 2006
Impressive for its attendance alone, the free concert held on Brazil's famed Copacabana Beach proved that the sexagenarian Stones could still draw a major crowd. An estimated two million fans crammed onto the site for a rollicking nighttime show -- video of which ended up on the band's A Bigger Bang Tour DVD.
3. Fifth Avenue, New York City, 1975
Any group with a lengthy history is bound to see members come and go. To help welcome former Faces guitarist Ron Wood to the Rolling Stones -- and promote the forthcoming Tour of the Americas -- the boys decided to mark the occasion with a short, but unforgettable gig: they climbed aboard a flatbed truck and played a brief set as the vehicle drove down Fifth Avenue. A hit with fans (and an awful racket for some New Yorkers), the promotional show still remains a favourite for the Stones.
2. Hyde Park, London, 1969
After avoiding live performance for a few years, the Stones decided to hold a free public concert in central London. A dark shadow was cast over the summertime show, however, with the sudden drowning death of former guitarist Brian Jones two days prior.
The band decided to proceed with the concert as a tribute to their former bandmate, complete with the release of white butterflies from the stage and singer Mick Jagger reciting verses from Percy Bysshe Shelley's long poem Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats. The performance also marked the debut of guitarist Mick Taylor.
1. Altamont Speedway Free Festival, California, 1969
Despite countless upbeat, high-energy concerts over the years, one dark chapter of the Rolling Stones story remains etched into music history.
The poorly organized Altamont show, held east of San Francisco, had a security team staffed by members of the Hells Angels biker gang. A massive, drug-addled crowd coupled with punchy Hells Angels members -- many of whom were also inebriated -- proved to be a disastrous mix. When an 18-year-old concertgoer named Meredith Hunter drew a gun near the stage, he was tackled by several bikers and stabbed to death -- the incident captured on film and emblazoned into history in the 1970 Albert and David Maysles documentary Gimme Shelter.
Though envisioned as a West Coast version of Woodstock, the Altamont concert came to symbolize the end of the optimistic, free-loving Sixties era.
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