When the Rolling Stones kicked off their 48-date North American summer tour in 1972, Rolling Stone writer Robert Greenfield was by their side to chronicle every second of the madness for his book Stones Touring Party. He logged more than 60 hours of interviews with the band and their associates, but much of that audio has sat in the vault for the past five decades.
It’s finally going to be heard as part of the iHeartPodcast series Stones Touring Party, kicking off on August 2. Hosted by writer Jordan Runtagh, the podcast will explore the mayhem of life on the road and the broader chaos engulfing the country as the Vietnam War was winding down and major American cities were going up in flames.
Prior to the start of the tour, the Stones hadn’t played a single concert in North America since Altamont. That tragic day was nearly three years in the past at this point, but emotions still ran quite hot. In this exclusive excerpt from the first episode of the podcast, Jagger discusses his fears that he might be attacked on stage by vengeful members of the Hells Angels that felt they had been unfairly blamed for the disaster that left a Stones fan dead.
“Either I stopped touring, or I didn’t,” Jagger says. “It was as simple as that. A few people said don’t go — friends of mine. They said, ‘You’ve really gotta be more people; you can’t go.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s more or less what I do, so I gotta do it!’ Either I do it, or I don’t do it. If I don’t do it, what am I going to do? There was a few places where it did get scary, and there was a lot of guns confiscated and stuff like that. Don’t say I wasn’t scared — I was scared shitless!
Greenfield remembered the dangers Jagger faced quite well. “It’s swirled around the entire tour: Is somebody gonna try to assassinate Mick Jagger?” he says. “You were aware of it. Always. And it was the Angels! These days we’re living in a time of random assassinations everywhere. But the Angels blamed Jagger for taking the hit for what they had done for $500 worth of beer.”
Stones keyboardist/roadie Ian Stewart, who died in 1985, also shared some thoughts on the matter with Greenfield back in 1972. “The way I think about it is if anybody was going to ‘do’ Mick they’d do him,” he said. “They’d do him with a rifle from the back of the hall or something like that. If anybody really set out to bloody kill him, they’d kill him.”
Needless to say, Jagger and the rest of the Stones survived the tour intact. And according to many hardcore fans, the tour represented their absolute pinnacle as a live band.