Tag Archive: Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out


“Sure, we’ll do a free concert, why not?” – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

“I mean, like people, who’s fighting and what for? Why are we fighting? Why are we fighting? Every other scene has been cool…” – Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger at Altamont.

As the Rolling Stones take the stage this evening in London’s O2 Arena to mark the 50th year as the greatest rock n’ roll in the world (if not the greatest of all time), there is no way in all this celebration to erase easily the darkest day in the band’s history.

Watching the two-hour HBO special last week, Crossfire Hurricane, and YouTube video clips, one is simply stunned by the brutal savagery of the 1969 free concert staged in a demolition derby track in a God-awful part of California’s East Bay at a horrible time of the year.

Every time I have driven along I-580 between Livermore in eastern Alameda County and Tracy in California’s Central Valley, one can only imagine 300,000 people traipsing along the rolling hills of the Altamont Pass. Almost DailyBrett also ponders about how incredibly cold it becomes once the sun goes down in late fall.

Why Altamont?

And why in early December?

Obviously, one can Monday morning quarterback an event that occurred 44 years ago and say how you would do it differently (if at all). Still Altamont is a reminder of the compelling need at times to use the most important two-letter word in the English language: “no.”

Reflecting back to December 6, 1969: Nixon was in the White House. The napalm was defoliating jungles in Vietnam for no certain purpose. Woodstock was a recent “triumph.” The Rolling Stones were completing an incredibly successful U.S. tour (e.g., “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out”).

Stonesya-yas

Why not give back to the fans with a free gig to compensate for charging a then outlandishly expensive $7.50 a ticket for all of the other Rolling Stones shows?

The more important questions that should have been asked: where, when, why, what, who and how? Another question: Is no free concert better than a free concert that has the potential to turn disastrous and deadly? That particular question needed to be asked by organizers, law enforcement and in particular, the tour management and even the five-members of the Rolling Stones.

And why in hell were the Hells Angels hired for a truckload of beer to serve as the police force for 300,000? Who was in charge anyway? The simple answer: No one.

Reportedly, the free concert was going to be held on a practice field for San Jose State’s football team, but the City of San Jose was not keen on this idea. Then it was going to be staged at Golden Gate Park, but the proposed event coincided with a San Francisco 49ers home game at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park (e.g., Stones and NFL football fans in the same weekend). No Tumbling Dice.

The next possible venue reportedly was Sears Point Raceway, but the owner wanted $300,000, plus the movie rights to the event that was going to include Carlos Santana, Flying Burrito Brothers, CS&N, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Stones.

Two days before the show, the Altamont Raceway was suggested. All that needed to be done was to build the stage (as it turns out: only four-feet off the ground in the bottom of a gully) and manage traffic, logistics, security, sanitation, first aid and provisions for hundreds of thousands of intimate friends.

No sweat.

What’s ironic was that Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead proposed the Hells Angels as the security force. When they heard that the violence-prone motorcycle gang had parked their Harleys in front of the stage as a “deliberate provocation” (the words of Keith Richards) and policed the crowd with sawed-off pool cues, they decided to skip the gig and went into hiding.

Four people were killed at Altamont; four were born and hundreds were stabbed and/or beaten up. The only recourse left to the Stones was to threaten to not play until the violence and ugliness stopped. Was that really an option? As noted in Crossfire Hurricane, they were surrounded, frightened and had absolutely no control over neither the crowd nor their Praetorian Guards, The Hells Angels.

Stones Jagger And Richards Eye Hells Angels At Altamont

According to Stephen Davis’ book, Old Gods Almost Dead, the national media ignored Altamont. “Time and Life, still rhapsodizing about Woodstock, didn’t mention it. The New York Times ran a small story in a late Sunday edition. Newsweek ran a piece three weeks later…”

Certainly, the Stones have not been immune to controversy and screaming headlines during the band’s history (e.g., the drug busts).

They have survived it all and stayed together (at least three of the original five) and relevant for five decades and counting. Their brand and legacy is still tarnished by Altamont.

Having acknowledged their unprecedented accomplishments one can conclude: Altamont was a chapter in their story that didn’t need to be written.

Somebody, anybody needed to simply say, “No.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt0ipUCfdlU

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-music-rollingstones-pix-tv-update-1l4n0950bn-20121125,0,633285.story

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

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

http://www.squidoo.com/altamont-speedway-free-festival-1969

http://www.hells-angels.com/

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

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.

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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/

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