Rock and Roll is way more than just music. It’s a lifestyle, a persona, a wall that few ever get over.
The amazing music journalist Chet Flippo had a highly-coveted seat during a Rolling Stones almost-fiasco in 1977, Canada. In my opinion, said fiasco is rock and roll at its finest. The following stories and direct-quotes come from Flippo’s highly-entertaining book, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The Rolling Stones had arrived to Toronto to finish recording a live album, and they were in the midst of a record label bidding war. Canada seemed like “someplace out of the way, so it would not turn into a freakish, full-blown, Stones-crazy Media Event.” Upon arrival to the Toronto International Airport, Keith Richards was busted for drugs. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) weren’t able to properly handle what (probably) should have been not a big deal, and the fear was born that Richards would spend the rest of his life in prison, in Canada.
Sequestered in Toronto, mostly in the Harbour Castle Hilton, the Rolling Stones were still able to work on their live album, in a couple of shows also feared to potentially be the last Rolling Stones shows ever.
The crazy atmosphere of what was going on went on for days and days and days. Here’s Flippo’s description of the scene:
“So the freewheeling wife (Margaret Trudeau) of the Prime Minister of Canada joined the free-floating Rolling Stones apparatchiks or remoras or camp followers or the growing army of weird people in and around the Harbour Castle who had a vested interest somewhere in the very presence of the Rolling Stones. There were record company presidents (Mike Maitland of MCA, Walter Yetnikoff of CBS, Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic) wanting to sign the Stones; RCMP officers wanting to keep a sharp eye on the Stones (and maybe do more); shrieking London tabloid reporters wanting to debrief the Stones (and perhaps worse); wild-eyed Stones fanatics wanting to meditate (and more, much more) with their icons; every status climber in Canada desperately wanting a Ticket to the Show; many image-conscious dope dealers eagerly wanting to upgrade their status by becoming known as Supplier to the Stones; every flaky low-rent scumbag crazy acidhead who ever infected the front row of any Stones show; and (finally) down here at the bottom rung of the status ladder, your writers from the United States (of which I was still the only one present). Oh – somewhere off in an antechamber, there were your TV correspondents and your Canadian columnists, whose cobwebs were just beginning to think about rattling. And who didn’t yet know that Maggie Trudeau had front-row seats for the Stones for both Friday and Saturday nights.”
This is Rock and Roll.