Get ready to shake your hips because the Rolling Stones are going to let it loose at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Thursday, Aug. 22.
The show was postponed from the spring after frontman and septuagenarian fitness inspiration Mick Jagger had heart surgery, but now Mick, guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood and man, the myth, the legend, drummer Charlie Watts are making good on the tour date with tickets for the long sold-out show running $155 to north of $3,500 on StubHub. (It might be worth dropping the cash if you think the Glimmer Twins are running out of time.)
With our very scientific discussion (read: a battle royale among the Stones fans around the 11 Southern California News Group newsrooms), these are the iconic rock band’s most memorable Southern California shows, in chronological order.
The Rolling Stones’ first U.S. concert date was at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino.
In his autobiography “Life,” Keith Richards recalled the Chiffons and Bobby Goldsboro being on the show and it happened after the band taped a segment for the “Hollywood Palace” TV show with Dean Martin, on which the Rat Packer insinuated that the long-haired rockers had fleas.
Thankfully, the San Bernardino show went much better, with the then blues band playing mostly covers and one original: “Tell Me.”
The band’s Forum debut included two shows in one night, with B.B. King, Ike & Tina Turner and Terry Reid opening, but delays to cover the ice and get the stage ready at the then-hockey arena caused forced the Stones to delay the first show until nearly midnight. The second show started at 2:30, with the Stones taking the stage at 4 a.m.
The band’s Tour of the Americas in support of the “Made in the Shade” greatest hits compilation featured the great Billy Preston on keyboards but it also marked Ronnie Wood’s local debut with the band after the departure of Mick Taylor.
“There are no two ways about it in rock & roll — either you is or you ain’t. They still is. They will probably never not be,” Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner wrote in his review of the show.
Decades later, the band released an audio recording and a DVD from that run.
This was the “Some Girls” tour, and the SoCal dates were back-to-back shows on very warm days, back when stadium shows often had the headliner performing while the sun was still up. This second of the two shows is famous in Stones lore for being the one in which Jagger, after two days of shoes and sandals being intermittently tossed onto the stage, said as “Love in Vain” started “OK, let’s have everybody’s shoes!” And a fusillade of footwear commenced.
In a later radio interview, Jagger reflected that the shoe incident was “one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to me on stage.”
What made this pair of shows memorable wasn’t actually the Stones, but what happened before the band came on stage. An up-and-coming artist named Prince opened the shows (this is before “Little Red Corvette” and “1999” dominated MTV). He was pretty much booed off and people threw things at the stage.
After playing Dodger Stadium in 1997 on the “Bridges to Babylon” tour, this was the band’s only California show of ’98 and it came during a big El Niño winter. It rained heavily all day and for much of the show. No way the Stones would take that bridge to the small stage in the middle of the field, right? Wrong. During “Little Queenie” the wind toppled one of Charlie Watt’s cymbals, Jagger picked it up, continued singing and held the cymbal stand in place for the rest of the song. The band laughed their way through the conditions and played wonderfully.
This was a tough ticket to get. Capacity at this Los Angeles venue is 2,800 and half of those on this evening seemed to be from the entertainment industry. Tom Petty, Neil Young, Reese Witherspoon were among the celebrities. One could see Paul Stanley conversing with Mick Fleetwood, of all pairings. A couple of rarities on the set list of this 40th anniversary tour stop included “No Expectations” and “Hand of Fate.”
It’s difficult to pick a night when the band played its best, its tightest. This is a candidate. Fans were treated to a generous set list of 22 songs on this 50th anniversary tour. A couple highlights: former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor did a couple of guest spots, including a long and wild “Midnight Rambler; and Dave Grohl provided guitar and amped-up vocals on a couple of verses of “Bitch.”
Tickets for this secret show on the Zip Code went for $5, and it was the first time the band played all 10 classics off “Sticky Fingers” live (the show was right before the reissue of the album was released).
“There might be some ’60s drug references in this record,” Jagger told the crowd, which included Harry Styles and Jack Nicholson, according to Rolling Stone.
The Rolling Stones headlined opening night of the twin weekends of this epic three-day festival that also included Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Who and Roger Waters on the site of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio and dubbed by some as “Oldchella”
Amid the hits, the band covered the Beatles’ “Come Together” as Paul McCartney watched from a VIP suite. The second weekend was just as much fun, with Jagger and Richards acknowledging Dylan as a newly minted Nobel Laureate from the stage.
Vanessa Franko is the Digital Director of Entertainment for the Southern California News Group. The lure of palm trees and covering pop culture brought her to The Press-Enterprise in Riverside in 2006. Vanessa has reported on everything from the Palm Springs International Film Festival to the MLB All-Star Game as a reporter, photographer, videographer and on-camera personality. She's won awards for her coverage of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and for crime reporting in her home state of Maryland. Vanessa studied multimedia storytelling as a Knight Digital Media Center fellow in Dec. 2011 and has taught college courses in digital journalism. She's seen shows at every major concert venue in Southern California, but most special was when Paul McCartney played the high-desert roadhouse Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown for a couple hundred fans in Oct. 2016. Her album collection numbers in the thousands (including a couple hundred on vinyl) and when she isn't hunting for records, she and her husband like to check out the best in Southern California craft beer and watch sports. She also had a cameo in the 1992 Atlanta Braves highlight film, Lightning Strikes Twice!
Steve Fryer covers high school sports at the Orange County Register. He writes a weekly column on the county high school sports scene and also covers games and writes features. Steve also writes a weekly column that covers pro and college sports, and other topics. Steve does concert reviews for the Register, too, when time permits. Steve's first byline appeared in the Register in 1979. He was in the inaugural class inducted into the Santa Ana Unified School District Sports Hall of Fame. Steve also is in the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, and was the first journalist to receive the Contribution to Education award from the Orange County Department of Education. Steve was honored as Champion for Character by the CIF-Southern Section.