One Fan's Personal Odyssey
So, who doesn't dig the Stones? Seriously. Everyone and their dog know who Mick and Keith are, at least. I have loved the Stones all my life; in fact, when I was six-years-old, I received two record albums for Xmas -- Havin' Fun With Ernie And Bert and Goat's Head Soup. I remember it like it was yesterday -- I was only six for crying out loud. I had an older sister who adored them as well, so I guess I pretty much grew up with them.
I first saw them in the 80s in Seattle. Tattoo You had been released and I was about 11. I told all my friends at school that I was going to see The Rolling Stones. They had no clue. My older sister and I hopped aboard the bus to Seattle after spending a lot of time and effort getting tickets. It's like playing the freakin' stock market. Tickets go on sale and BANG! You have about 22 minutes to purchase your tickets.
So we were on our way to Seattle and my sister stands in front of the whole crowd and said: "If anyone has pot or alcohol on them, you better ditch it now 'cause my mom will kill me if my little sister is exposed to it, or gets stopped at the border…" She meant business. We were on our way to see Mick and nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would stop us. Of course, the show was FREAKIN' fantastic. I don't even have to explain.
I came home and told my mom I loved Mick Jagger and my memorabilia collection expanded into space. I bought every book, poster, picture, record -- you name it. I think I have entered every single contest and promotion related to the Stones.
The next time I saw the boys was during the Steel Wheels Tour. I was way over due now. And once again, I was with my sister. They were playing two shows in Vancouver over two nights. We went the first night just to check out the scene. I was 18. We got to the venue/stadium and the sound was so great it was though we were inside watching. Two guys offered to sell us floor tickets for $15.00!!!! OH MY GOD!!!! $15.00 to see the Stones, but we had NO cash. They said they were too high on acid and couldn't focus on the show and just wanted to get rid of the tickets. From now on, I ALWAYS have spare cashola on me. So we cruised around the outside of the stadium and found the exit where there were guards, police and a whole slough of people. WE WERE AT THE RIGHT PLACE. So, we wait and wait and wait and OH MY GOD!!!!! There was Mick. Holy shit, Mick Jagger!!!!! He was in his black limo wearing a white robe, sitting in the back seat and drinking Evian water. He was maybe 10 feet from us. I can still see him as though it was yesterday, but it wasn't yesterday -- it was 1989.
We got so excited -- my sister and I -- that we walked to the Four Seasons Hotel ('cause where else would they stay?) and we walked into the lobby and grabbed the elevator to the Penthouse floor. There were three people in the elevator with us: Lisa, Matt and Cindy. They were, of course, the two back-up singers and the keyboard player. We played it cool and proceeded to the Penthouse floor in silence. When the elevator arrived, two security guards asked me if I was supposed to be there. I reply, "NOOOOOOOOO," cause I freaked… I was a pretty naive 18 and those security guards were huge. Mick saw us from his room, as the door was ajar and said, "Hello." But we had to leave. NOT BAD FOR A NIGHT OF JUST CHECKIN' OUT THE SCENE! TOTALLY UNFORGETTABLE!
We went to the concert the next night and had an awesome time, of course. Our seats were on the floor near the back. We started to leave during the last song, but all the band members came out in a Loomis Armored Van. Guess we scared them the night before...
The next show I caught was during the Voodoo Lounge tour and I tell ya, it just gets better and better. Again, the Stones were doing two shows, again two nights. I decided to hit both shows. The first night I went with a group of people and again we had floor tickets, but they weren't into "stalking." So I just enjoyed the show and left it at that. The next day I had planned to meet a friend and spend the day hanging out, and then hit the show. My friend was late, and to make a long story short, I had a day from hell and didn't even care if I made it to the show or not. You can imagine it must have been a REALLY bad day. But, eventually my friend showed up and we made it to the Voodoo Lounge in record-breaking time. Floor tickets again, but not near the front, which sucked because tonight was Keith Richards' birthday and I REALLY wanted to shake his hand or give him a bandana.
So we get to our seats and the usher says, "Oh yeah, we have eliminated that row and your seat has changed." Great, I thought, this day just keeps getting worse and f**king worse. Then they tell me that we will be sitting 3rd row centre ON THE FLOOR!!!! I totally forgot about my bad day -- it was the best day of my life now.
So I find my seat, and, as usual, start conversing with the people around me. I find out that the person sitting to my left is Bryan Adams' accountant, and the guys to my right play for the NHL. Nothing could be better, and then Keith came down to the floor, did a guitar riff and slapped my hand. We all sang Happy Birthday. I had such a fabo time that I got a tattoo so it could be with me for the rest of my life.
Bridges To Babylon was not as memorable. A great concert, mind you. Floor seats again and an amazing stage. The thing I remember most about this one was spending way too much money. But in the end, it was all good.
So by the end of the Bridges tour, I now have 32 T-shirts, every single record made, all the cassettes, and a small CD collection started. I have read every book, and seen every movie out there on the Stones and/or their individual lives. My nickname is now Jagger Junkie and my friends call me a Rolling Stones specialist. Man, there has to be a field of work for me where I can use my Jagger Junkie talents.
The year is now 2002 and I am 31. I have, in the last few years, lost my mom and dad, sister and grandparents all to cancer. I am struggling in life like many others, but have a good attitude and do anything I can to stay happy.
Then one day I hear the Stones are going on tour again. I jumped around my office at work for days and days and days. I have now been to enough concerts to know how to get good tickets, scope out the venues, and this time hopefully -- HOPEFULLY -- meet the band for real. When the tickets went on sale for the LICKS tour, I went to my friend's house. He is a network engineer and I wasn't going to piss around trying to get tickets. I WAS going to get tickets. We had three computers set up, two cell phones going and two landlines. I was going to get tickets for whatever show I could. In the end, I purchased tickets for the Toronto show as well as L.A. and Anaheim. At this point, I have no idea how I am paying for these. Don't know, don't care, but I am going.
All my friends were great and supportive. I took a month off work so that I could hit all these shows, as they were all North American venues and within three weeks of each other. While I was on the plane, I read a great article in Fortune magazine about the Stones Empire and their tour manager, Michael Cohen who works for Clear Channel Entertainment. God, I would love to meet him. He sounds AMAZING.
So I get to Toronto after a five-hour flight. The first place I hit is the Toronto Maple Leafs Centre at 3:00 in the afternoon. The Stones are scheduled to play at 8:00 and I want to scope out the place and sneak backstage. Yes, ME!!!!! So I walk around the AIR Canada Centre, as it is called, for about an hour trying to figure out how to sneak in. Then, a black security guard asks me if I am looking for the stage door. "YES, as a matter of fact, I am," I said. So he directs me there and I walk up to the door and in I go, no questions asked. OK, now I'm freakin' where do I go from here. So the security guard at the desk nods at me and I nod back and head down the stairs. Then some guy asks me if I am looking for Michelle and I say YES. He says to me, "Down the stairs and to the left." So, of course, I head down the stairs and turn right. And -- OH MY GOD -- I am behind the stage, amps are rolling in and there are about five people doing a sound check. Now I am FREAKIN' and my heart is pounding. But I am cool and calm. I look around, and there is no one near me, so I take my cell phone out of my pocket and call my best friend. I very, very quietly say, "You will never believe where I am," and then outta nowhere appears this guy who says, "You need a pass to be down here." I look at him and whisper, "I'll just be a minute, I'm just on the phone," while pointing to my phone, and he says again, "You can't be down here." Again, I say to him, "I'll just be a sec." Call terminated. Then he says to me, "You need a pass to be down here." So I ask, "Well, where's your pass?" and he says, "I don't have one." So I say, "Well, I'm going to need to speak with someone of authority."
As I am being escorted out I see a sign hanging over a door that says: CLEAR CHANNEL ENTERTAINMENT. So I say to Mr. Security, "I need to speak with someone from Clear Channel Entertainment." And out walks Michael Cohen. Now I am SUPER FREAKIN'. Michael and I had a very short discussion about scalpers and the way tickets are funneled.
I got what I wanted, so I was willing and ready to leave. What a thrill! So now it is about 4:30 in the afternoon and the Stones are playing tonight. I still have to unpack my luggage, eat and get ready and go.
So I get to the concert about 7:00 and I walk around for a bit. This is the first time IN MY LIFE I do not have a floor seat. That is really why I wanted to see Michel Cohen of Clear Channel, but he really couldn't do anything for me in that regard. So, I go and scope out my seat, which is in section 170. I feel sick to my stomach at the fact that I'm not on the floor. ME! Not on the floor! So I see this kid walking towards the floor area and I ask him how he got his ticket. He says he bought it, but I could take my lousy ticket to the box office and upgrade it. Away I go! I immediately ask for the supervisor and she gives me a floor ticket, row 34. AWESOME! So I head to the floor and have my ticket in my hand, which NO ONE asked for.
I wasn't happy with row 34, so I keep heading towards the front of the stage. WOW! Security really sucks around here. I found myself five guys in the 6th row and said, "You don't mind if I squeeze in here do you ?" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Come on in." Good Response. What a show. I went from section 170 to 6th row on the floor and I met Michael Cohen.
I could die tomorrow!!!!!!
When I got back to my hometown, the local network did a story on me.
I proceeded to see the Stones in L.A. and Anaheim. I snuck a camera into the concert at Staples Center in L.A., but I didn't get to take very good photos cause I had nosebleed seats. PISSED ME OFF. I tried to upgrade my seats, but the box office wouldn't do it for me. I had a great time though. How can you not have a good time seeing the Stones in L.A. on Halloween?
The last show I attended was at Edison Field in Anaheim. AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING. It was like being in Seattle in the 80s again. Jagger's energy is endless and the visual effects, well… PHENOMENAL. It would be the last show I would see for a while and I sunk it all in. I didn't try to sneak backstage, I didn't have floor seats and I didn't get to meet anyone famous. But it didn't matter -- I was there.
What a learning experience it was. I basically followed the Stones for 32 days. Tickets for all the shows were all priced differently, as were the venues and performances. I really don't know which one was the best -- it's hard to say. The Toronto show was the BEST for sneaking backstage, meeting Michael, and sneaking to 6th row centre on the floor. The L.A. performance was BEST cause like I said The Stones in LA on Halloween. And Anaheim… well it was BEST for its visual aids, sound and energy, not to mention the several encores.
I think it's obvious: THE STONES ARE THE BEST!!!!