Monday, November 24, 2008

My First Concert: The Rolling Stones at the Chicago Stadium, 1975

This article was first published on on January 3, 2004.

In my middle class, Catholic neighborhood circa 1975 it was impossible to find another 15 year old that idolized weirdos like the Rolling Stones enough to go to one of their concerts. Seriously, all my classmates were into Barry Manilow and the Captain and Tenille. Maybe they'd see America at Ravinia if they were feeling frisky. I'm not joking. I ended up going to the show with the 25 year old schoolteacher sister of one of my brothers' friends. She, of course, could not believe that someone had a spare ticket to see the Stones. By the way, the ticket cost nine fifty. That's nine dollars and fifty cents, not 950 dollars, which is what it probably costs now for a main floor seat to see the Stones.

An interesting tidbit about this concert involved one of the stage props, a large penis shaped balloon that sprang up from under the stage during the naughty classic "Star, Star" (aka "Starfucker"). Mick then proceeded to ride said balloon during the song. . Being young and very into seeing the concert and pissed off that I was going to watch the show from the mezzanine and not the front row, I bought a pair of binoculars especially for the event. When you're 15, its very important that you see and analyze every movement a performer makes in detail with your girlfriends later and giggle over it. You must remember Mick still looked presentable at that time, as it was the tail end of his eyeliner and makeup era.

There were no high-class super venues in the '70s with skyboxes and designer pizza at the concession stand. You were lucky to buy a T-shirt from a grizzled old hippie at a table by the box office. In those days, it was more likely you'd be accosted by some greasy kid outside the stadium selling bootleg T shirts for $5 apiece. The licensing police were non-existent in those days, so the counterfeiters did a brisk business.

Anyhow, the concert itself was great. Some pics of the '75 tour (though not specifically this show) are here.

Just shows you that the Stones did look pretty good once. And see? I wasn't lying about the prop either. I remember there was a mini-controversy about the band using the balloon penis in the Chicago Stadium. The powers that be were aghast at such a pornographic prospect. I'm not sure about the validity of this rumor. Can you imagine the conversation between Mayor Daley Sr. and the police commissioner?

"Mr. Mayor, they are transporting a lewd balloon between state lines."

"Lou? Lou's balloon? Who's Lou?"

In a teen-age girl's view, hair and clothing are very important. How the guitars were tuned and vocal modulation didn't matter too much. My diary noted the costume changes and dance moves, sort of a first foray into music journalism minus the music. It was great fun, though more of a personal experience. It's weird. It's kind of hard to imagine the Stones as young, i.e. to young for the early bird special at Denny's!! In the souvenir program I bought at the '75 show, Mick stated 'I'd rather be dead than sing "Satisfaction" when I'm 45." Time and the promise of Baby Boomers raking over big bucks changes everything. But I suppose if you looked back on interviews with most young rock stars they'd assume they'd be dead or retired to the ranch by 40. Seeing a guy in his 30s strut around is more realistic and sexier than a 60-year-old pretending to be 30. The latter can still be entertaining, as the Stones have proven, but the edge is gone. It's only rock 'n' roll, but as long as it makes money and sends the crowds home happy, we'll like it.

Star***-LA, 1975

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