This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first American tour, and the band will make its first-ever Arlington stop on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
Several previous tours have visited Fort Worth, including concerts that can be seen in two movies, and in Dallas. (Their first U.S. tour in 1964 bypassed Dallas-Fort Worth — its lone Texas stop was San Antonio.) Let’s take a look back at how many times the Stones rolled through North Texas.
Nov. 21, 1965, Will Rogers Coliseum, Fort Worth: The Stones arrived in an armored car, the better to fend off screaming fans, for a 2:30 p.m. show. (You read that right; the reason for the early show time was they also played Dallas Memorial Auditorium that night.)
Not that everyone knew who they were: “For the benefit of those readers out of the bubble gum and bobby sox set,” wrote longtime Star-Telegram columnist Elston Brooks, [“they] are five unbarbered men from across the water named Keith Richard[s], Brian Jones, Billy Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger.” (Brooks seemed to be looking more forward to the Guy Lombardo concert elsewhere in town the same night.)
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“It was totally sold out,” Frederick Goggans, who lives near Boston but grew up in Fort Worth, says in British writer Richard Houghton’s upcoming book The Rolling Stones 1962-66: A People’s History. “There were lots of girls screaming. I think it was much more of a mixed audience than you’d find at a Beatles concert.”
The stage was supposed to revolve, but “Two Madison Avenue types from New York blew in and nixed it,” according to a Star-Telegram report. Cost of a ticket: $3.50.
Nov. 13, 1969, Moody Coliseum, Dallas: The Stones were touring in support of one of their best albums, Let it Bleed, but this was a dark year for them: In July, founding guitarist Brian Jones died in a drowning accident, and less than a month after this Dallas show, the Stones would play an ill-fated concert at California’s Altamont Speedway in which a fan was fatally stabbed by one of the Hells Angels who was hired for security.
Just before Dallas, though, the band had played the most lucrative one-night stand in pop history: two Los Angeles shows that grossed a whopping $170,000.
June 24, 1972, Tarrant County Convention Center: The Stones played two shows (with Stevie Wonder opening), one at 3 p.m. and one at 8. Nearly 28,000 fans saw Mick Jagger “prance, slide and literally crawl across the stage for almost three hours,” according to the Star-Telegram review.
At a Tucson show days earlier, six police officers were injured by bottles and rocks thrown by youths trying to force their way into the concert, but the Fort Worth crowd was well-behaved.
It was a big week for Fort Worth: A week earlier, a resurgent Elvis Presley played Cowtown for the first time since 1956. The 1973 film Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones was shot at these concerts and at two in Houston.
July 6, 1975, Cotton Bowl: Keith Richards almost didn’t make it to this one. In an incident that takes up most of the first chapter of his 2010 memoir, Life, Richards and friend Fred A. Sessler were arrested in Fordyce, Ark., about 300 miles east of Dallas, while driving from Memphis — they were tired of flying and wanted to see some scenery — for the Dallas date.
Richards was charged with reckless driving and illegal possession of a knife, and freed on $162 bond (Sessler was arrested on a drug-possession charge). Guitarist Ronnie Wood, who had just joined the Stones, and Jim Callaghan, the head of the Stones’ security detail, were with Richards but weren’t arrrested.
An attorney representing the group said that Richard and Sessler weren’t jailed but posted bail after a 7 1/2-hour meeting with Fordyce city officials. “They have been treated as royally as we can,” Municipal Court Judge Thomas Wynne said in an AP report at the time. “I would have taken them to my home to make them more comfortable, if they didn’t have to stay at the police station.”
According to Richards, who makes the incident sound like a surreal Dukes of Hazzard epsiode, about 2,000 fans came to Fordyce from surrounding states to see what was going on in the town of about 4,000.
As for the concert — what better place for a midsummer Dallas show than an open-air stadium? One that starts at 2 p.m., no less? No wonder one of the advance stories was an Associated Press report about the medical teams who would be on hand as temperatures reached the upper 90s.
But the worst thing that happened that day occurred in Fort Worth, where three teenagers were killed in a car crash on Granbury Road en route to join friends who were also going to the concert.
July 18, 1978, Will Rogers Memorial Center: Immortalized in the 2011 DVD Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78, this was a landmark show that put the emphasis on material from the just-released Some Girls and deeper cuts from Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup and Let It Bleed, although a few big hits did make it in.
Although rumors had been floating around about a DFW date for weeks, the show wasn’t announced until just a few days beforehand (tickets read “London Green-Shoed Cowboys”) and was at a small venue at a time the Stones were playing places as huge as the Superdome in New Orleans.
Nearly 3,000 tickets sold out in 35 minutes. Tickets were $10 apiece, limit two to a customer. Scalpers quickly ran ads in local papers, with $195 the highest reported price. At least one fan came from Ontario.
The 17-song, no-encore show climaxed with an incredible 6-minute version of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, during which Jagger threw pails of water over the audience.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 1981, Cotton Bowl: One of the Stones’ biggest tours made a two-night Halloween stop in Dallas (as late as Sept. 2, there were reports that Billy Bob’s Texas was holding a few dates for a possible Stones stop!).
Again, violence occurred at a show just before the DFW stop — a fan was fatally stabbed in Houston — but the DFW crowd caused fewer problems, although reports noted open drug use, and there were 23 arrests during the two shows.
Many fans attended the Halloween show in costume, and it took place in a crossfire hurricane — or at least in a driving rain, and if you recognize those words as a reference to Jumpin’ Jack Flash, just think of Mick Jagger, who acted out the song in pretty literal conditions. Most of the crowd of 80,000 stuck it out through the downpour. (ZZ Top and the Fabulous Thunderbirds opened). “We’re getting wet, too,” Jagger told the crowd. “My mascara is running.”
On Nov. 1, Jagger wore his own costumes: a Dallas Cowboys jersey with Tony Dorsett’s No. 33 on it, then a cape made from a U.S flag and a Union Jack, over white football pants.
Nov. 10-11, 1989, Cotton Bowl: After a long layoff from American tours and a near-breakup in the late ’80s, the Stones came on like the world’s greatest bar band in these concerts in support of 1989’s Steel Wheels (Living Colour opened).
Eerie moment from the Nov. 11 show: As the Stones segued from the biggest surprise of the set, 2,000 Light Years From Home, into Sympathy for the Devil, the clouds parted, revealing a near-full moon as a backdrop for the band’s most malevolent song.
More than 50,000 people saw the show each night — but days earlier, the Stones had played a private bash at Dallas’ Boiler Room for 700 or so close friends. This was longtime bassist Bill Wyman’s last tour with the Stones.
Nov. 18, 1994, Cotton Bowl: Almost exactly five years after their previous Cotton Bowl show, the Stones returned to Dallas. This one wasn’t a sellout, and not all of the crowd stuck out the rain this time, but then-Star Telegram pop music critic Dave Ferman called it the best stadium show he’d ever seen.
“This was classic Stones, the members playing off each other, Richards dipping, swaying and crouching, Jagger gesturing and twirling, and [Charlie] Watts, as always, laying down a crisp beat that would slice stone,” Ferman wrote.
“This is clearly a band that has decided to get serious about rock ’n’ roll again. Past shows have been sloppy, with missed cues and muddy sound, but none of that was in evidence last night.”
Nov. 1, 1997, Texas Motor Speedway: An epic show as the Stones, who had been enduring jokes about their age since the late ’70s, headlined with hot ’90s acts Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Matthews Band and Matchbox 20 — all featuring members born after the Stones had their first hits in the ’60s. More than 43,000 people attended the show.
Although the show led to traffic jams, traffic was worse at the opening of the then-new Grapevine Mills mall (at least one couple who missed their exit to the mall just went to the concert instead).
Star-Telegram reviewers praised the show, though: Malcolm Mayhew was there to cover the younger acts, but when it came time to do his year-end best concert list, his No. 1 pick was the Stones at this show.
Nov 29, 2005, American Airlines Center: Having bypassed DFW on two previous tours, the Stones returned for the first time in eight years with a bang-up show highlighted by the antics of Mick Jagger — who was 62 at the time.
“Prancing, preening, strutting, pouting, Mick Jagger burst onto the American Airlines Center stage Tuesday night and for the next two hours held 20,000 people in the palm of his bony hand,” our review began.
Keith Richards and Ron Wood staggered and grinned through the show, which found the core band at its loosest, held together by drummer Charlie Watts.
Scheduled opener Merle Haggard fell ill, and Fort Worth’s Delbert McClinton was called in as a last-minute replacement — and played to a half-empty arena as if he were singing to a full house.
Material compiled from Star-Telegram archives