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The Rolling Stones: the greatest rock and roll band in the world? That’s a bit rich

Home - by - November 27, 2012 - 11:45 America/New_York - 36 Comments

Telegraph UK

The Rolling Stones issued their new album Grrr!

Their latest shows prove the Rolling Stones can still work a crowd, but their music is of a time long gone

On Sunday night, while the Rolling Stones were performing for 20,000 people at the O2 in London – the first of five concerts they will be playing in London and New York to mark their 50th anniversary – one of their early heroes was also making an appearance a few miles across town, in the somewhat shabbier surroundings of the Kentish Town Forum.

Bobby Womack is the veteran soul singer who wrote, and with his group The Valentinos recorded, the original version of It’s All Over Now, which gave the Stones their first number one hit in Britain in 1964. Womack once recalled his chagrin at his mentor Sam Cooke giving the Stones his song, and depriving him of having the hit himself. “I was still screaming and hollering right up until I got my first royalty cheque. Man, the amount of money rolling in shut me right up.”

Womack, 68, who styles himself as “the Soul Survivor”, has survived drug problems, near-penury and cancer. He was performing songs from a new album, The Bravest Man In The Universe (modesty was never his strong suit), produced by another, younger admirer, Damon Albarn.

The Rolling Stones, who started out as a rhythm and blues covers band, borrowing heavily from black artists such as Womack (a debt which, to their credit, they have always warmly acknowledged), are now among the wealthiest entertainers in the world, a thriving corporation, steered by a CEO – Mick Jagger – who has demonstrated a mixture of shrewdness and business acumen that makes him the peer of any more strait-laced captain of industry.

The Stones are reportedly being paid more than £15 million for their five shows. Ticket prices for the London performances range from £95 to £375, with a “VIP hospitality” ticket priced at £950, and no concessions for the pensioners who are the group’s most devoted audience, many of whom will doubtless have travelled to the O2 on their Freedom Passes.

We can put aside Jagger’s blithe explanations that when it comes to ticket prices the group are merely hapless victims of market forces, or Ronnie Wood’s shrugging dismissal that “we’ve got to make something”. The Stones long ago set the benchmark for shameless cynicism when it comes to exploiting “the brand”. Among the luxury items on offer when the box-set of Exile On Main Street was released two years ago was a limited-edition box of three lithographs, “signed individually by Mick, Keith or Charlie”, priced at £1,999.99. Note, that’s “or”, not “and”.

By one account, the biggest crush of the night at the O2 was not at the front of the stage but at the merchandising stand, where eager customers were spending £200 on a poster of a gorilla’s face – the artwork on the cover of the the band’s newly released greatest hits, Grrr!. Of course, one should not begrudge a handful of pensioners a few bob in their declining years, but as Johnny Rotten once said, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

It is not only the price of the tickets, but the online lottery by which they have been dispersed that leads older – and poorer – fans to feel hard done by. In an earlier age, the devoted fan camping outside the theatre on the night before the show would have seen his loyalty rewarded with a ticket. Now, devotion requires very deep pockets, faster broadband speeds and, ideally, useful corporate connections.

 

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» 36 Comments

  1. Diann

    November 27th, 2012

    The ugliest maybe.

    Sweet fancy Moses that’s a thousand miles of bad road.

    Noteworthy Comment Thumb up +12

     
  2. Mountain Dog

    November 27th, 2012

    They owe any success to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and lots of dope and dopes.

    Thumb up +6

     
  3. Dren

    November 27th, 2012

    Are they still alive?

    Thumb up +3

     
  4. RANDO

    November 27th, 2012

    FWIW This year is also Golden Earring’s 50th anniv.

    Thumb up +8

     
  5. Gary

    November 27th, 2012

    I own over 12,000 albums and not 1 of them are from rolling stones.they are not very talented.

    Thumb up +2

     
  6. joe6pak

    November 27th, 2012

    I’ll grant you that they are old and over the hill but 40,30, and even 20 years ago I liked the heck out of them. On a side note, the worms in London will be fining the Stones for playing past the curfew. 320,000 Pounds for playin into the ungodly hour of 11:05 pm.

    Thumb up +3

     
  7. Johnny Pickleduster

    November 27th, 2012

    If you look real close you can see the outline of the depends they are all wearing.

    The overwhelming stink of old man feces and urine must dominate the stage when these old gummers are croaking out their songs.

    Yuck.

    Thumb up +1

     
  8. Poonces

    November 27th, 2012

    Their next concert will truly be the Rolling Stones, a bunch of old men in wheelchairs trying to pretend they’re relevant.

    Thumb up +1

     
  9. Kevin R.

    November 27th, 2012

    They were one of my favorite bands back in the ’60s. Even then their ticket prices were over twice what it cost for other concerts. Back in the day I shelled out ten bucks a ticket to see the Stones. Other concerts went for around three or four.

    Thumb up +2

     
  10. Johnny Freedom

    November 27th, 2012

    I think that title has belonged to Rush since 1976.

    Thumb up +2

     
  11. TC

    November 27th, 2012

    Best headline I’ve seen regarding this tour is ” Strolling Bones”

    Thumb up +4

     
  12. MNHawk

    November 27th, 2012

    Nothing more pathetic than some 50ish JournoTard pretending to be hip and young by ragging on those older than himself.

    Enjoy your diet of American Idol and Justin Bieber, Mick, in your lame attempt to keep up with the 15 year old girls. We’ll see where any of them are when they are 70ish.

    Thumb up +6

     
  13. Left Coast Dan

    November 27th, 2012

    Is it Halloween at the old folks’ home?

    Thumb up +1

     
  14. aleon

    November 27th, 2012

    “but their music is of a time long gone”

    I suppose that may be true, depending on your age and how you look at things. Personally, I wouldn’t mind going back to those times as opposed to being stuck in these times.

    Thumb up +9

     
  15. Carlos The Jackal

    November 27th, 2012

    “I can’t get no…satisfaction, I can’t get no…hard erection…”

    Thumb up +3

     
  16. theBeachBumConservative

    November 27th, 2012

    Whatever, I’m still a fan.

    Thumb up +5

     
  17. RANDO

    November 27th, 2012

    Great Track:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fa4HUiFJ6c
    Check the solos.

    Not my favorite band, but one of my favorite songs.
    In general I prefer the Stones to the Beatles.

    Thumb up +4

     
  18. the aardvark

    November 27th, 2012

    When’s the Geriatric/Old Geezer Tour going to begin. Next stop, playing Indian (Native American) casinos. And they could call it the Walking Dead Tour. Man, do they look like Hell. When Keith Richards dies(and when he does die will he even know that he’s dead) they won’t have to embalm him, he’s already well preserved. Give it up! Time for new blood, like Mumford and Sons.

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  19. shotwell

    November 27th, 2012

    The Rolling Stones – Drinking music. The Beatles – Smokin music. Pink Floyd – The Acid Music. I miss the 60′s we had choices and lots of them.

    Thumb up +3

     
  20. ejazzyjeff

    November 27th, 2012

    “but their music is of a time long gone”

    But isn’t that the main attraction? People want to hear their classics at the concerts.

    Thumb up +4

     
  21. AbigailAdams

    November 27th, 2012

    OK, I’ll be the dissenting opinion. The Rolling Stones made it possible, at times, for me to go to work with “Start Me Up” jammed in the tape deck (remember those?) every morning for the drive to Giant Technology Company over The 520. Those were the days.

    Now their “Doom and Gloom” is just as pop — and apt. Typical Stones — more rhyme than reason. It’s never been about Jagger’s voice, anyway.

    http://www.uproxx.com/music/2012/10/hear-the-first-new-rolling-stones-song-in-six-years/

    (And the funniest attempt at understanding the words to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was (yeah) Whoopi Goldberg in the film by the same name.)

    Rock-n-Roll is a big business, so I don’t get the whining about ticket and concession prices. As I always say, It’s not what’s fair, it’s what the parties agree to. Market economics at work. If they can make a killing jumpin’ around on a stage while people pay enormous prices to watch I say more power to ‘em. Heaven knows there are less talented people doing that all the time. cough madonna cough.

    Thumb up +5

     
  22. theBeachBumConservative

    November 27th, 2012

    Exile on Main St. is still my favorite record of all time.

    Thumb up +2

     
  23. debzeppelin

    November 27th, 2012

    Even though they can never be what they once were, LED ZEPPELIN will always be best in the world, but that’s just me. Have seen Plant twice and he sounds pretty damn good, although he looks like an old mountain goat.

    Thumb up +2

     
  24. chiefillinicake

    November 27th, 2012

    Frankly, from not being able to get no, I’ve had more “Satisfaction” than a man can handle.

    Thumb up +1

     
  25. Mountain Dog

    November 27th, 2012

    I listened to them too, when I was a kid. Always preferred Van Morrison type music over the drug induced stuff.

    These guys did more drugs than Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison combined. If they deserve an award for anything it should be for not joining the 27 Club along with Brian Jones.

    It is a medical mystery that they are still alive, with so much heroin coursing through their vanes.

    Thumb up +1

     
  26. Carlos The Jackal

    November 27th, 2012

    I remember playing the “Brown Sugar” 45 over and over again to try and figure out WTF Mick was singing!

    Thumb up +2

     
  27. Reg

    November 27th, 2012

    Not even in my top 100…

    Thumb up +1

     
  28. Xavier

    November 27th, 2012

    To quote Monica Lewinsky at a taped HBO interview when a journalist berated her for making money from the appearance, “Sir, why are you here?”

    The Stones may be old, but damn almost everything from 65 to 75 defined blues based rock, especially the Mick Taylor years. Sure they’re dinosaurs but hey have a little respect.

    Thumb up +3

     
  29. Mountain Dog

    November 27th, 2012

    I’m still a big Hendrix fan. The man had unique guitar talent that is still unmatched today.

    Thumb up +3

     
  30. Noelegy

    November 27th, 2012

    I’ve always thought they were overrated…sorry. I like their music in terms of the musicians’ talent, but Mick Jagger and his voice will always irritate me.

    I’m more of a Jethro Tull girl, in case you’re curious.

    Thumb up +1

     
  31. RANDO

    November 27th, 2012

     
  32. Mountain Dog

    November 27th, 2012

    Tull could play a flute.

    Thumb up +1

     
  33. Serious Putty

    November 27th, 2012

    Is anybody going to be listening to Justin Bieber when he’s this age?

    Thumb up +1

     
  34. norman einstein

    November 27th, 2012

    I like lots of “old” rock bands, but I absolutely love the Stones.
    Their stuff holds up…but like anybody who’s successful, there will always be whiners spewing their “sour grapes”.

    And, as Abigail Adams noted, it’s market forces at work.
    They can charge whatever they want. Don’t like it? Stay home.

    Thumb up +4

     
  35. DebZeppelin

    November 27th, 2012

    The Stones music will be played decades longer than Dave Matthews or Maroon 5′s ever will. No offense DMB people & M5 people. Oh wait. Yes. Be very offended.

    Thumb up +2

     
  36. Dylan Chumleigh

    November 30th, 2012

    I love it and Hates off to Rolling Stones, its sounds great that they are still performing on stage, seriously they are legends of music world.

    Thumb up 0