Tag Archive: Bill Wyman


KHJ radio in Los Angeles was cranked to the max for our Boy Scout campout in 1965.

I thought, What’s with this fuzz guitar, the incredible beat, and this singer with all the moves?

stonesearly

Fast forward 47 years and I am still not tired of probably the most famous double-negative in music history, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

That particular Boy Scout campout also began my lifelong quest to hear the song live with Keith Richards laying down the riffs, Charlie Watts keeping time on the drums and Mick Jagger belting out the vocals. I went twice to the “Fabulous” Forum in Los Angeles (Inglewood to be precise) in 1975 (Tour of the Americas) in search of “Satisfaction.” Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” served as the intro for the Stones and about 20 songs, sandwiched by “Honky Tonk Women” and “Sympathy for the Devil.” Jagger swung (literally) off the ceiling of the Forum, and yet there was no “Satisfaction.”

The next try for “Satisfaction” came almost a generation later in 1999 (No Security Tour) at the San Jose Arena. Ronnie Wood was the lead guitarist and bass player Bill Wyman had quit the band. These Stones had gathered some moss, but they still could deliver about 22 songs including Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Rolling Stone,” but still I couldn’t get no “Satisfaction.” I was now a big “O” for three.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that my lack of hops and small hands would permanently preclude me from ever dunking a basketball. Did I also have to face a life with no “Satisfaction?”

My fourth try for “Satisfaction” was 2002 at the Oakland Arena (Licks Tour). The Stones were about half-way through their show, when Keith laid on the first riffs of Satisfaction. The crowd instinctively sprung to its feet. Mick did not have to sing the words; everyone knew them.

I had finally achieved “Satisfaction.” It was orgasmic.

Since then, I have seen the Stones two more times, AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2005, and the Oakland Coliseum in 2006 (A Bigger Bang Tour), climaxing two more times with “Satisfaction.” If there is a Stones tour next year as rumored to celebrate five decades as the greatest rock n’ roll band on the planet, I will not be attending a show but making a pilgrimage.

Periodically, I am asked why I am such a Rolling Stones freak (six concerts, about 10 DVDs, more than 20 CDs, all the old albums in wax, the notorious tongue poster hangs beside Ronald Reagan in my man cave). The follow-up question usually asks, Why Mick and Keith and not John and Paul?

The answer is that I like the Beatles, always have. The opening chords of “Day Tripper” immediately get me revved up. “Abbey Road” is one of my favorite CDs. I still haven’t figured out “A Day in the Life,” much less “I am the Walrus.”

When considering the question of the Stones and Beatles (I always list them in this order), one has to explore the roots. The Stones grew up listening to Muddy Waters (origin of the band’s name), John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Robert Johnson, and Solomon Burke. The result is a much more rhythm-and-blues oriented band. The Beatles by contrast were influenced heavily by Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. The blues make me swoon.

Another differentiator is Mick Jagger, himself. Nobody is blasé about Mick. He is one of the greatest showmen of his era. There is the magnetism of Mr. Jumpin Jack Flash himself. And yet, you cannot examine him alone as Keith Richards (one half of The Glimmer Twins) will always be part of the Stones story.

The Beatles stopped touring the mid-1960s. The Stones invented the rock n’ roll show in 1969 and became more innovative and outrageous as the years went by. My favorite CD hails from the 1969 tour, “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out,” recorded that November from Madison Square Garden.

stones69

Alas, a Beatles fan can only remember. Sadly, John and George are gone. There will be no more tours, only reissues of songs in different technology formats that we have already heard a gazillion times.

A Stones tour is always the subject of intense rumors. Where will the play? From the 400 songs in the band’s repository, which ones will make the set list? Will we achieve “Satisfaction” or not?

And today, July 12, 2012, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of founding of the Rolling Stones. We all wish we could have been at the Marquee Club on London’s Oxford Street to hear the first gig of the Stones. I was only seven years old at the time, growing up in a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania. I was simply too young and too far away.

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The most important point as we celebrate the band today is the fact that the Stones are still Rolling. Three of the original five (Mick, Keith and Charlie) are still playing. No other rock n’ roll band has stayed present (e.g., tours and CDs) and relevant for five decades. The Stones easily could have hung up the guitar picks and drum sticks literally years ago with bank accounts full and legacy intact. And yet they continue to bring joy to our lives.

They also seem to still get a charge out of what they do.

“I know it’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, like it, yes, I do.”

 

“I can’t get no satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

“When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
When I’m watchin’ my T.V.
And that man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no girl reaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

“When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
‘Cause you see I’m on a losing streak
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(I_Can’t_Get_No)_Satisfaction

http://www.rollingstones.com/

When is not enough, not enough? When is too much, too much? And is just right, just right?

Finally, when is it time to get off the stage?

As I contemplate the to-the-point immediate communication demands of our 2012 attention-driven society (particularly via social media), I keep on pondering the lessons of four legendary English rock n’ roll bands of the 1970s.

After standing in the rain for nearly eight hours outside some sterile Southern California department store in 1975 (amazed the call of nature didn’t intercede…ah to be young again), I finally reached the front of the line and bought two precious tickets to see Led Zeppelin.

page

In my mind’s eye, I could envision Jimmy Page laying on the first riffs of “Rock n’ Roll” with his Gibson Les Paul, Robert Plant hitting the high notes, workmanlike John Paul Jones on the bass/organ and John Henry Bonham pounding away on the drums.

A friend, who saw the show a few nights earlier, implored me to sell the tickets. I should have listened to him. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan owning the band’s entire catalogue on both vinyl and CD. Listening to the band’s recordings is one thing; sitting through four hours of guitar, organ and drum solos comprising only 15 songs (do the math) was exhausting. When it was over, no one was demanding an encore.faces

During that same year, I saw the last tour of Rod Stewart and the Faces (Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagen and Kenney Jones). All-in-all, I have checked out four Rod Stewart shows, including the aforementioned Faces concert. Each one was over in approximately 90 minutes. And each time the audience wanted more but there was no more. The crowd felt jipped and there was a smattering of boos. We were not even close to being exhausted and we were far from satisfied.TheWho2

 

 

The Who was a different story. I saw the band for the first time at Anaheim Stadium in 1976 with the original lineup of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle (The Ox) and Keith Moon. The second time was in Los Angeles with the Faces’ Kenney Jones replacing the deceased Moon on the drums. The band played for more than two hours and ended its regular set with “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Alas, the encore was an anti-climatic throw-away.

Early this month, the Rolling Stones announced the availability of a bootleg recording of its July 13, 1975 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles. I was 20-years old at the time and vividly remember Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” dramatically introducing the band at that very same concert to thunderous applause. And then there was Mick Jagger and Keith Richards singing the chorus to “Honky Tonk Woman” with Charlie Watts on drums, Bill Wyman on bass and Woods just joining the Stones from the Faces.

Since the 1969 “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” tour, the Stones have always been masters of choreography and pacing, starting their concerts at a kinetic pace (i.e., Honky Tonk, All Down the Line, You Can’t Rock Me) and then slowing down (e.g., You Can’t Always Get What You Want). The 1975 concert concluded with a series of Stones classic rockers including: Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin Jack Flash and the encore, Sympathy for the Devil.

Stonesya-yas

The show was 22 songs and ran about two hours or so with the audience coming away satisfied (Who says you can’t get no satisfaction?), but wanting more. The Stones knew when it was time to get off the stage. Led Zep played a four-hour concert; The Stones gave us a show. All together, I have seen the Stones six times live, and if they tour as rumored next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band, my attendance will be a pilgrimage as it will for literally thousands and thousands of people.

The purpose of this epistle is not to simply recount how fortunate I have been to see some of the greatest rock n’ rollers of all time, but to deduce the lessons of these bands and project them to our 21st Century world of communication.

Recently, I was imploring a very bright colleague to drop her plans to market a 4.5-hour AUDIO ONLY tape. I borrowed the famous line from the late Texas Governor Ann Richards (no relation to Keith) stating: “That dog won’t hunt.”

A NFL game takes an average of 3.5 hours obviously accompanied by video and audio. The Led Zep show ran four hours with amplified sound, lasers and lighting. My entrepreneur acquaintance wants to market a 4.5-hour audio tape, broken into nine chapters, but still 4.5 hours. I urged a series of two-to-three minute YouTube videos as an alternative. No go…so I had to go.

My failure to convince someone (not the first) about the merits of quick messaging social media reminds me of The Diffusion of Innovations Theory by professor Everett Rogers. The theory is represented by a curve with innovators on the extreme left and laggards on the extreme right of the page (not implying any political connection). I am afraid that 4.5 hour audio tapes are heading in the laggard direction akin to the buggy whip. We live in a world of 140-character Tweets/20-second sound bites/quick Facebook posts.

We can either embrace this new world or coming into it kicking and screaming. We are not going back to Johannes Gutenberg and his 15th Century printing press or the modern-day equivalent in the form 4.5-hour audio tapes. The Stones and The Who proved four decades ago that less is more in rock ‘n roll. This same wisdom applies to 2012 communications choreography as well.

http://www.rollingstones.com/news/rolling-stones-release-la-friday-live-1975

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Copland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faces_(band)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

http://www.biography.com/people/ann-richards-9457298

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

exile

The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_in_Exile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_on_Main_St.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

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