Cleaning out your garage is not exactly my idea of a great way to spend the weekend. But, every now and then, you find some little treasure that makes it all worthwhile. Such was my good fortune last month.
Amidst the boxes filled with old check registers, broken parts from kids’ bikes, and other largely disposable detritus, I stumbled across a box of Kodak 35 mm slide carousels. We’d been carting them around for years, never unpacking them, and they’d survived moving vans, hot storage facilities, and the dust and neglect of years of garage life. On a whim–I was really getting bored with the cleanup task–I decided to take a glance at the photos.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the slides–many 25 to 35 years old–had survived in extraordinary condition: the colors were virtually unchanged from when they were taken. A host of subjects presented themselves–a trip to Europe after college, early photos of my wife and I in the first years of marriage, our children at early ages, and those agonizongly long years spent enduring my Army assignment at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
But then the prize of prizes: photos of a Rolling Stones concert in 1972. Whoa! Cool!
I remember having the taken the photos, and had several of them made into prints–but the prints had been lost, and I assumed the slides were gone forever as well. But there they were, in all their glory. Amazing.
The concert had been held in RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on July 4th 1972. I had just graduated from college (no giggling out there, you young whippersnappers…), but I have no recollection with whom I went or how I got tickets. I do remember bringing a Pentax Spotmatic camera, and a new zoom telephoto lens I bought just for the occasion. I was using a Kodachrome slide film–ASA 400, as I recall. Film technology was not what it is today, and the film is fairly grainy when the shots are blown up.
The lead-off band was Stevie Wonder:
You can see Stevie on center stage, surrounded by his band. The crowd, as you can see, was huge, but not particularly animated at this point. Once the Stones got on stage, however, this changed rather dramatically:
The Stones had released their Sticky Fingers album–one of their best ever, in my opinion–in April 1971, and this was their first US tour after the release. In addition to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the band featured Bill Wyman on bass, Charlie Watts on drums, Mick Taylor on lead guitar (who had played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and had just joined the Stones the year before), Billy Preston on keyboards, and Bobby Keys on sax.
Jagger was dressed to kill, in an androgynous outfit suited to the 4th of July: white tights with stars, a laced white vest, red sash, blue denim coat, and long red and white ascot:
Purple lip liner and mascara, with purple stars at the corners of his eyes and on his forehead completed the look. Mick Taylor is seen on the left, and Charlie Watts on drums.
Keith Richards was less ostentatious, in jeans and a tie-died shirt, with blond-streaked hair, ripping out chords on his modified `58 Les Paul (this bad boy can be yours today for a mere $400,000) through paired stacks of Ampeg amps:
Look closely on top of the amp head to Richard’s left: there’s a partially emptied fifth of Jack Daniels bourbon. Richards problems with alcohol and drugs are the stuff of legend, although by report he has currently cleaned up his life.
Bill Wyman stayed in the shadows throughout the concert, playing a clear Lucite Dan Armstrong bass.
Update: Here’s one more photo which required a little Photoshop tweaking, since it was a little out of focus:
So there you have it–a blast from the past: 4th of July 1972, the Jack Daniels tour with the Rolling stones:
UPDATE: High resolution images (up to 1200 DPI) may be viewed on my Flickr page.