Throwing Stones XXII: The Prince Of Bankers

(This is Part XXII. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XXI: Shattered)

In part XXI, the Stones struggled to deal with the fallout from the  Altamont free concert.

RL  Early 60sAs the sixties drew to close, Rupert Loewenstein noticed that some of the parties he and his wife attended were undergoing a strange transformation. Instead of enjoying drinks and conversation, an increasing number of guests were flopping on a couch or the floor and withdrawing into what appeared to be cosmic bliss or a brain-dead stupor.

On a few occasions, Loewenstein literally stumbled across such guests while saying his goodnights. One evening, he tripped over a skinny young man with long hair. Loewenstein apologized, and the young man seemed to take it all in stride. Months later, Loewenstein would realize that the young man was Mick Jagger, the famous face of The Rolling Stones.

Rupert Loewenstein could be forgiven for being behind the pop cultural curve. He was a well-respected merchant banker and a devoted classical music fan with zero interest in Top 40 trends. Though he made his home in Swinging London, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll were about as far from his milieu as you could get.

Prince GerJagger may have been the crown prince of rock, but Rupert Loewenstein was an actual prince. Born in 1933, he was the sole progeny of the royal houses of Wittelsbach and Loewenstein-Wertheim. Loewenstein’s father was a German prince; his mother, a countess. Baby Rupert entered the world with a title, a coat of arms, twelve middle names and a family tree that winds its way through central European history like a trumpet vine wandering the walls of a crumbling castle. The only thing missing was an inheritance. Previous generations on both sides of the family had long since spent the money and sold off the ancestral estates.

Rupert Loewenstein’s father was surprised to learn that his new wife’s family fortune was gone, and she was burning through what was left with alarming speed. His mother was surprised to learn that her new husband wasn’t about to let marriage interfere with his pursuit of beautiful women.

Loewenstein’s parents were Catholic, but that didn’t stop the divorce. Disdain for Hitler and the fact that some of their ancestors were Jewish kept them out of Germany as the Nazis rose to power. Rupert was born in Majorca, Spain, and spent the war years in England with his mother. He attended private boarding schools and earned a scholarship to Oxford.

Having watched his parents mismanage money for years, young Rupert developed a knack for common-sense financial decision making. After college, he accepted an entry-level position with the London offices of Bache & Co., a leading international securities and investment firm. The starting salary was low, but Loewenstein hoped to master skills that would make him a rich man someday. He married Josephine Lowry-Cory, a striking young British woman with a couple of barons and a lost fortune in her own family history. Though money was tight, the couple enjoyed entertaining, and the prince continued to add names to what would now be called his “golden Rolodex.”

Fiver XCULoewenstein worked hard at Bache, and became a skilled stockbroker, negotiator and financial advisor. Upper management decided that the gregarious, multilingual Loewenstein was the ideal man to open Bache’s string of new European brokerage offices. The prince proved them correct while enjoying a lifestyle well beyond his income, thanks to a generous expense account and a healthy travel and entertainment budget. The post-war Western economic boom was roaring toward its high watermark, and the prince and his clients rode the crest of the wave for all it was worth.

In 1962, a wealthy client asked Loewenstein if he would be interested in going into commercial banking. Lowenstein put together a consortium of partners and investors that included his client and purchased Joseph Leopold & Sons, a London-based merchant bank, in 1963.

The bank proved stodgy, even by British standards. The new owners updated the antiquated bookkeeping system and expanded the business, but there was none of the recklessness seen in today’s financial sector. Lowenstein and his partners were largely playing with their own money, and acted accordingly. They dealt in corporate overseas investment, foreign letters of credit, currency trading and other business-oriented banking matters, all guaranteed to raise a yawn in casual conversation. They also offered personal and corporate financial management for select clients.

BowlerFive years after his team purchased the bank, Loewenstein got a call from a young art dealer and socialite named Christopher Gibbs. Gibbs had grown up wealthy, and his career choice kept him in contact with both new money and the old aristocracy. Gibbs had befriended Mick Jagger, and was surprised when Mick told him that The Rolling Stones were, for all practical purposes, broke. The band’s increasingly estranged American manager, Allen Klein, received all of their income, refused to share financial information, and sporadically sent them checks of varying sizes.

Jagger was desperate to find someone who could help his band regain financial control. He knew that Gibbs had friends in the financial world, and asked the art dealer to put him in touch with a qualified candidate willing to take on the job. It was no easy sell. London’s famously conservative bankers still wore bowler hats, and most wouldn’t have touched The Rolling Stones with a ten-foot umbrella. Gibbs had already been turned down by others when he called his princely pal.

Loewenstein was intrigued. He had begun feeling restless and, though he knew nothing about the Stones or their music, thought a rock group might make an interesting client. Christopher Gibbs told Lowenstein that Mick Jagger was far smarter and more personable than the Stones’ image let on. Loewenstein met with Jagger and confirmed Gibbs’ opinion.

RL PRAfterwards, Loewenstein realized that Jagger was the young man he had tripped over months before, but that didn’t stop him from agreeing to take on the band as a business client. The Rolling Stones’ bizarro showbiz fairytale had taken another improbable turn. Their prince had come.

(This concludes Part XXII. Look for Part XXIII, coming soon, only to Bill’s BrainWorks!)


Throwing Stones XXI: Shattered

(This is Part XXI. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XX: A Shot Away)

In part XX, the Stones struggled through their set at the violent Altamont free concert.

Richards OTSThe Rolling Stones triumphant American tour had ended in tragedy. The badly shaken band members flew back to England the day after the Altamont free concert, leaving Road Manager Sam Cutler behind to deal with the fallout.

Though the Stones had promised to “take care of him,” they would not speak to Cutler again for several years. When Sam tried to speak for them, it went badly. The day the Stones flew home, San Francisco alternative FM favorite KSAN attempted to untangle the Altamont mess on a special call-in show. The exhausted Cutler was put on the air, but came off as defensive and dismissive. “…if people didn’t dig it, I’m sorry,” he said, sounding far more exasperated than apologetic.KSAN Mic

An angry call from Hells Angels honcho Sonny Barger followed. Barger blamed the band and the crowd for the ugly turn of events, insisting that the Stones had duped the bikers and made them the fall guys for the free concert fiasco.

Sam Cutler lacked the funds, skills and connections to mount a public relations campaign. When he got word that the cops, the Hells Angels and potential plaintiffs’ lawyers were all looking for him, the street-smart Cutler vanished into the San Francisco underground. Many fans and journalists interpreted his silence as an admission of guilt.

Jagger Wary CUStaying under the radar gave Cutler’s reputation a beating, but it may have saved him from a literal one—or something worse. Rumors that the revenge-hungry Hells Angels had put a price on Mick Jagger’s head were making the rounds. A motorcycle gang ordering a hit on a rock star sounds like the plot of a Roger Corman flick, or a tale cooked up by the Stone’s publicity obsessed former manager, Andrew Oldham. But during a 1983 U.S. Senate hearing on the criminal activities of outlaw bikers, a former Hells Angels testified that the gang still had an “open contract” on Jagger, and detailed two failed attempts to kill the singer.

A total of four people died at Altamont. Meredith Hunter was stabbed and stomped to death by the Hells Angels. Two concertgoers were killed by a hit-and-run driver. One accidently drowned in a drainage ditch. Ironically, the same number of people died at Woodstock, a fact that was lost in Woodstock’s overwhelmingly positive media coverage.

RS AltaInitially, national coverage of Altamont was positive as well. Brief stories depicted the concert as a successful “Woodstock West” hampered by a few violent incidents. Then on January 21, 1970, Rolling Stone magazine ran an extensive cover story in which correspondents who had been on-site detailed the brutal reality of events on the ground.

The article shined a light on the inept planning and ego clashes behind the show, then delivered withering critiques of the organizers, audience members, the Hells Angels and The Rolling Stones.  A publication that had consistently heaped praise upon the band now excoriated them for letting things get so out of hand.

Rolling Stone was a countercultural touchstone, and the mainstream press quickly followed its lead. Altamont became an irresistible metaphor for the end of sixties and the death of the hippie dream.

The Rolling Stone piece got many things right. But it failed to mention that Ralph Gleason, publisher Jann Wenner’s mentor and one of the magazine’s founding editors, had been among the loudest voices demanding a free show in the first place. The Stones rock solid  image as the hip, smart, cynical kings of the scene made it nearly impossible for any writer to suspect the truth: they were cash-strapped young men who had been trusting beyond the point of gullibility. Like everyone associated with Altamont, their biggest mistake was believing the myths of sixties’ San Francisco.

Mick2The deals that Tour Manager Ronnie Schneider structured to pull off the 1969 American tour changed the concert industry. So did Altamont. The lesson was clear. Woodstock was a fluke, not a model. A large show required a solid operating budget, extensive planning and a suitable venue with adequate access, parking, concessions, security, first aid, insurance, and more. Any concert that did not have those elements firmly in place invited disaster. Any free show that did not virtually guaranteed it.

Having witnessed the horrors of Altamont firsthand, Ronnie Schneider realized that the Stones’ best defense likely lay in the footage shot by the Maysles brothers and their freelance crews. When David Maysles mentioned that he had enough material for a feature-length documentary, Schneider did a deal in minutes. The agreement was struck before the footage had been processed, and the two men had no way of knowing that the killing of Meredith Hunter had been caught on film.

gimme-shelter---rolling-stones-movie-poster-1970-1010144176Gimme Shelter opened in theatres on the first anniversary of Altamont. The movie captures the scope, complexity, violence and volatility of the event in harrowing detail. It also shows that—despite their generation’s belief in the power of rock stars—the Stones could not have solved everything by simply refusing to play, walking off mid-show, or bossing the crowd and the Angels around.

The scene that clearly shows Meredith Hunter pulling a pistol bolstered the legal defense of the Angel who stabbed him to death. The jury ruled that Alan Passaro acted in self-defense. Meredith Hunter’s mother sued the Rolling Stones, and the matter was settled out-of-court for $10,000. Sam Cutler befriended Jerry Garcia and resurfaced as a co-manager of  The Grateful Dead. Alan Passaro drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1985. The death appeared suspicious, but there was not enough evidence to declare foul play. Shades of Brian Jones.

Though Gimme Shelter softened criticisms of the Stones’ behavior at Altamont, the movie was attacked for profiting from the disaster. But by the time those criticisms arose, The Rolling Stones were desperately trying to escape from a very different kind of debacle.

(Click her to read Throwing Stones XXII: The Prince of Bankers, only on Bill’s BrainWorks!)


Throwing Stones XX: A Shot Away

(This is Part XX. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XIX: No Shelter)

Part XIX brought the Stones to the stage at Altamont.

CUMJMick Jagger eyed the tightly packed sea of fans with a worried glance as the Stones plugged in, then broke into his trademark grin. Jagger had spent the 1969 tour urging fans to get up and dance. Now the most famous frontman in rock kicked off a show by telling the band’s largest audience yet to “just keep still.”

The Stones launched into “Jumping Jack Flash,” but the music wasn’t enough to change the mood. The stage remained crowded. The crush up front grew worse. The clashes between the Hells Angels and the audience grew more frequent and ferocious.

Poll Cues SqLarge areas would suddenly clear of people as Angels waded in with their pool cues and concertgoers scrambled to avoid the mayhem. As soon as the Angels moved out, the crowd poured back in. Unable to see much beyond the first few rows, the Stones could tell things were going terribly wrong, but could discern few details.

The show ground to a halt during “Sympathy for the Devil” when a Harley parked in front the stage caught fire. Apparently, the crowd had pressed down on the bike’s seat, causing its shock absorbing springs to contact a battery post. Bikers leapt from the stage to smother the flames and exact revenge. Why the Angels had parked their bikes between the crowd and the stage remains a matter of debate. Some claim it was a deliberate provocation intended to show the fans who was really in charge. Others say it was to keep the audience away from a speaker that had shorted out earlier and, ironically, sparked a small fire.

Jagger WorriedJagger pleaded for peace, and things calmed down long enough for the Stones to resume “Sympathy.” But additional confrontations occurred as the song drew to a close. Downshifting to slower material had a brief, soothing effect, but the violence soon returned.

Keith Richards fearlessly called out the Angels, warning them that the band would not continue if bikers kept beating people up. An Angel grabbed a mike and scolded the crowd like an enraged parent, telling them that if they didn’t behave they would be sent home with no more music. Begging for harmony, a shaken, exasperated Jagger told the crowd to sit down. Most of them did. The band began “Under My Thumb.”

M HunterMeredith Hunter, an 18-year-old African American student, wasn’t interested in sitting down. Hunter had taken methamphetamine, and was determined to work his way to the stage, ignoring the pleas of his girlfriend and Mick Jagger alike. Hunter reached his destination, only to have a couple of Angels rough him up and heave him back into the crowd. When more Angels headed his way, Hunter made a fatal mistake. He pulled the .22 caliber revolver that he had tucked in his pants and hidden beneath his jacket.

A Hells Angel named Alan Passaro drew a knife and launched himself at Hunter with astonishing speed. Parrying the pistol, Passaro stabbed Hunter repeatedly. Other Angels swarmed in and began stomping Hunter as soon as he hit the ground.

Frustrated by yet another eruption, the Stones stopped playing long enough to be told that someone had pulled a gun and been removed from the audience. They called for a doctor , asking the audience to make way as necessary.  They were not told that Meredith Hunter had been stabbed, and had no way of knowing that he had died within minutes of being taken to a first aid station.

In the song “Gimme Shelter,” the Stones had warned that the line between chaos and civilization was far thinner than most people realized. Altamont taught them just how right they were. Caught in a phantasmagoric nightmare that threatened to explode into a full-blown Angels vs. audience riot at any moment, the band had little choice but to continue the show. They felt as if they were literally playing for their lives. They probably were.

Gimme ShelterThe Stones closed with—of all things—“Street Fighting Man,” and hurried offstage. Cars rushed the band and the terrified touring party to a helicopter that was waiting on the racetrack. Seventeen people squeezed into a chopper designed to carry no more than twelve, and the overloaded whirlybird struggled into the air. Keenly aware that he was carrying too much weight, the pilot kept his altitude low as he flew to the tiny airport in nearby Livermore. After a bumpy landing, the band and its associates returned to San Francisco by car.

Meanwhile, back at Altamont, stage and lighting designer Chip Monck began packing up equipment. When the exhausted Monck tried to stop three Hells Angels from making off with the Persian carpet the Stones used on stage, the bikers knocked his front teeth out. “Woodstock West” was over. But the backlash was just beginning.

(This concludes Part XX. Click now to read Throwing Stones Part XXI: Shattered)



Throwing Stones XIX: No Shelter

(This is Part XIX. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XVIII: Merciless Angels)

Part XVIII traced the symbiotic relationship between the Hells Angels and the Bay Area music scene, and the road that led the Angels to Altamont.

M&KForty-five years ago this week, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards slipped into a limo and left  the holiday lights of San Francisco behind. Joined by  Tour Manager Ronnie Schneider, bodyguard Tony Funches and writer Stanley Booth, they travelled to the Altamont Motor Speedway, the site of the free music festival the Stones were scheduled to headline the following day.

All appeared well when Jagger, Richards and company arrived at Altamont that chilly northern California night. Tens of thousands of concertgoers were already settling in. Camp fires peppered the hills, and people seemed to cover every square inch of ground. The rockers left their limo and began checking things out on foot. Friendly fans tagged along in the darkness, but nobody hassled their heroes. Tony Funches bummed a joint at Mick’s request. Bottles of wine were shared. A communal spirit filled the air.

Both Jagger and Richards said the scene reminded them of Morocco. Ronnie Schneider has described it as mystical. Stanley Booth would later realize that the seductive, dreamlike quality of the experience had obscured the site’s shortcomings. “The night before was like Morocco,” he wrote, “but it was also like anything you wanted it to be.”

51CN2B9NC5LKeith Richards decided he liked the mood so much that he would spend the night. Spying a flimsy fence that had been flattened by the crowd, Richards chuckled. “The first act of violence,” he joked. His casual wisecrack would prove disturbingly prophetic. Booth remembers the group’s limo running out of gas before they left, but Schneider says they merely worried about having enough to get back to the city, which they did.

On Saturday, December 6, helicopters ferried Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts and the tour staff to the speedway. Everything looked shockingly different in the light of day.

Though less than 100 miles from the California coast, the landscape was dreary, brown and overrun with scrub growth. The highway leading to the raceway had been transformed into a giant parking lot, as carloads of people surrendered to a massive traffic jam, abandoned their vehicles and walked to the site. Broken glass, windblown trash, and the rusting hulks of totaled demolition derby racers littered the area surrounding the rundown track.

Festival organizers had expected over 100,000 people. Over 350,000 showed up. Food, water, shelter, communications, emergency medical care, toilets and trashcans were all in dangerously short supply. But there was no scarcity of drugs, booze or Hells Angels.

Trouble started as soon as The Stones touched down. A young man rushed Mick Jagger and punched him in the face, screaming, “I hate you!” Jagger composed himself quickly, shouting “Don’t hurt him!” as the man was dragged away.

Trailer SquareTony Funches couldn’t believe his eyes. The “backstage” area consisted of a few scattered trailers and a large tent. There were no barriers and next to no fencing. The small force of private security guards hired by track-owner Dick Carter was far more interested in protecting property than people. Funches’ military experience had taught him the value of a defined perimeter. But establishing one at Altamont was impossible.

The band stuck to the tent and trailers, awaiting the arrival of bassist Bill Wyman, who had opted to do some Christmas shopping and make the trip to Altamont by car. Out front, Tour Manager Sam Cutler was struggling to keep people off of the stage, which several attendees saw as an ideal platform for political speeches. Others just wanted to be where the bands were. Fearing the low stage would collapse under the weight of these self-invited guests, Cutler asked the Hells Angels to help him keep non-musicians off of it. To his dismay, it was soon crowded with bikers.

A literal busload of Angels had arrived at Altamont the previous day, staking out “Angel Land” near the speaker towers. Many, many more showed up on Harleys. While both Charlie Watts and members of the Maysles brothers’ film crew have stated that they encountered individual Hells Angels who were sober, helpful and easy to get along with, the majority of the bikers in attendance were none of the above. They soon made their presence felt.

Dead LogoThe Angels had begun drinking early. Complicating matters, legendary San Francisco underground chemist Owsley Stanley and others were handing out free LSD, and Angels were downing the drug by the handful. At least one of the batches being circulated was laced with methamphetamine. The result was a potent hybrid that produced nightmarish hallucinations and paranoid, hair-trigger aggression—the worst of both worlds.

The Angels weren’t the only ones getting loaded. Zonked-out fans quickly became a danger to themselves and others. Some unwittingly dosed themselves when they took swigs of wine from jugs that, unbeknownst to them, were spiked with acid. Georgia “Jo” Bergman, the Stones office manager, was shaken to discover a sea of “nasty, mean stoned people” instead of “happy, cheerful stoned people.” Sam Cutler said it was as if San Francisco had been destroyed by a nuclear bomb and the desperate survivors had all fled to Altamont.  Angels roared through the audience on their Harleys, further rattling the tightly packed crowd. The bad vibes were reaching the boiling point.

JeffAirAn opening set by Santana was interrupted by several minor incidents. Confrontations intensified, then calmed down a bit when the Flying Burrito Brothers played. But clashes between the Angels and the crowd escalated with alarming speed during the Jefferson Airplane’s performance. Groups of Angels armed with pool cues were delivering savage beatings to anyone they felt was out of line. Other gang members amused themselves by hurling full cans of beer at audience members’ heads.  The first aid stations were overwhelmed with overdoses and skull fractures. Airplane vocalist Martin Balin began criticizing the Angels’ violent behavior. A biker quickly retaliated, knocking the singer unconscious. Balin came to, confronted the Angel, and was coldcocked again.

hellsangels Local favorites The Grateful Dead were scheduled to appear after Crosby, Stills & Nash. The Dead arrived, assessed the scene, and departed without playing a single note. That left the audience waiting for The Rolling Stones, who were waiting for Bill Wyman, who was stuck in traffic. The situation continued to deteriorate as darkness fell. Wyman finally made it through. The Stones took the stage, surrounded by a claustrophobic combination of anger, anticipation and dread. The crowd pressed forward. The worst was yet to come.

(This concludes Part XIX. Click now to read Part XX: A Shot Away!)



Throwing Stones XVIII: Merciless Angels

(This is Part XVIII. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XVII: You Gotta’ Move)

In Part XVII, a last-minute agreement made the Altamont Speedway the new site of the free festival created to cap The Rolling Stones’ successful North American tour.

MonckCUBy the end of the sixties, Chip Monck had earned a hard-won reputation as one of the best stage, sound and lighting guys in the business. Having completed preparations for the free concert at the Sears Point Raceway, Monck suddenly had less than two days to tear everything down, truck it fifty miles east to the Altamont Speedway, and set it all up again. Like Tour Manager Sam Cutler, Chip Monck was a trooper. He rallied his largely volunteer crew and pulled off the final miracle of the improbable 1969 tour.

Upon arriving at Altamont, Monck discovered that the new venue’s topography presented him with several stage placement options—all of them lousy. With well over 100,000 fans expected to attend the free festival, the stage would have to be built on the acreage surrounding the track, and the fans would have to seat themselves on the grass. At Sears Point, Monck had positioned the stage at the crest of a steep drop-off, lifting it some eight feet above the audience. At Altamont, the best choice for sightlines and speaker tower positions put the Stones at the base of the hills in a low bowl.

The stage was only 39 inches tall, and there was no time to bring in risers and boost its height. Monck’s crew began the build. It was too late to mull things over, and Monck was thinking like a stage designer, not a security expert. In fact, it appears perilously little thought had been given to security throughout the tour.

Funches CU Incredible as it seems today, the Stones had hired just one man to handle security for the entire enterprise. Tony Funches was an African American Viet Nam war vet, raised by strict parents in the gospel church. He was big man who only used his fists when all else failed. Fortunately, there had been few incidents during the tour. As the band’s bodyguard, Funches spent most of his time fending off the endless stream of fans, groupies and hustlers who concocted ingenious schemes to meet the Stones. He also intercepted audience members who leapt onstage and made mad dashes at Mick, returning them to the crowd with the catch-and-release care of a conscientious angler.

The Stones even kept the cops out of the arenas for most of the shows, much to the chagrin of local police chiefs. The harsh tactics deployed against demonstrators during the sixties had tarnished American law enforcement’s public image. Minorities and young people were the most disaffected, but the savage clashes between police and protestors throughout 1968 left many older, white Americans shaking their heads as well.

Mick Jagger made it clear that he didn’t want the cops anywhere near the free festival. But there were no funds available to pay for large scale private security. When Jagger openly wondered who could handle the job, San Fran scenester and former Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully offered what he thought was an ideal solution: The Hells Angels.

Angel Colors CUThis suggestion seemed somewhat reasonable in 1969, especially if you were English. There were English Hells Angels, fifty of whom had helped out with The Rolling Stones successful free concert in Hyde Park. So when Scully pitched the American Angels in glowing, countercultural terms, describing the bikers as “righteous” and “dignified,” it sounded good to the Stones.

Though some accounts continue to claim that the English Hells Angels handled security for the Hyde Park show, London’s famed police force was very much in evidence. The Stones even made their way to the stage in a Police armored car. Scotland Yard’s internal report dismissed the Angels’ security efforts as “totally ineffective.” Hardly surprising, since the circa ’69 English Angels were primarily wannabes who dressed like American bikers. Photos from Hyde Park reveal many of them to be teenage boys too young to shave.

The American Hells Angels, by contrast, were hardened outlaws. They had little use for hippies, though they enjoyed sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll as much as the next dude. Probably more. Okay, a lot more.

hells_angels_logoDuring the rise of the San Francisco scene, a symbiotic relationship had evolved between musicians, event organizers and local Hells Angels chapters. When the bikers attended a show, they quickly staked out their turf, which fellow concertgoers nicknamed “Angel Land.” It was a land most non-Angels feared to tread. Organizers and promoters soon realized that by encouraging the strategic placement of Angel Land, they could create a buffer zone between the audience and potential problem areas like the soundboard, the power generators or the backstage entrance. The Angels were happy to occupy the suggested piece of real estate in exchange for cases of free beer.

The highpoint of Hells Angels/Frisco Music Scene cooperation occurred in June of 1967, at the Magic Mountain Music Festival, high atop Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. The festival featured a stellar lineup, including The Byrds, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. As detailed in Rolling Stone, the Angels shuttled several artists up the steep mountain to the stage on their Harleys. A peaceful, sun-drenched gathering was enjoyed by all.


Two less-than-groovy years later, Woodstock sent a whiff of that old Summer of Love spirit back into the air. In late November, 1969, the Oakland and Frisco Angels casually cut a deal involving the upcoming Bay Area concert. Most accounts claim that Sam Cutler and Rock Scully bargained with the bikers, but all of the key players have spent decades disputing exactly who was involved and exactly what, if anything, was agreed upon.

CutlerSam Cutler has consistently stated that his conversation never went beyond the Angels placing themselves around the generators and receiving some beer for  the favor. Cutler says he put up $500 in beer money out of his own pocket, having been promised that the other acts would pitch in and repay  their share. (They never did.) Angels Godfather Sonny Barger says he told the concert organizers that his guys were nobody’s cops, but they would be willing to sit on the front edge of the stage to keep others off of it. Ronnie Schneider has repeatedly made it clear that he was the Stones’ sole representative for the tour, and neither he nor the band ever authorized, approved or issued funds to hire the Angels to serve as security—or anything else. Ultimately, the bikers came away with the understanding that they would help protect the equipment and musicians at the free festival in exchange for that $500 worth of beer.

It was a turning point that would haunt the Rolling Stones for the rest of their lives.

(This concludes Part XVIII. Click now to read Throwing Stones Part XIX: No Shelter)


Throwing Stones XVII: You Gotta’ Move

(This is Part XVII. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XVI: Highway ’69 Revisited)

In Part XVI, The Rolling Stones returned to America for the first time in three years, mounting a triumphant tour on a shoestring budget.

The Rolling Stones arrived at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama, on December 2, 1969. Over the course of three days, they cut “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses” and a cover of “You Gotta’ Move,” a spiritual recorded by numerous American blues and gospel artists. The Stones didn’t have work permits to record in the states and didn’t want their estranged manager, Allen Klein, to know what they were up to, so their session in the sticks had been scheduled on the sly. It quickly became the worst kept secret in rock ’n’ roll.

AhmetThe band’s contracts with Klein and Decca Records would be expiring soon. Ahmet Ertegun, famed head of Atlantic Records, flew in to discuss the formation of Rolling Stones Records, a label that would be owned by the band and distributed by Atlantic. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Stones’ employees were scrambling to pull off their promised free concert.

JeffAirVarious San Francisco bands had staged successful free shows in Golden Gate Park. Word quickly spread that, with the help of The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, the Stones would soon play the park’s biggest bash yet—San Francisco’s own “Woodstock West.” But the free show seemed snake-bit from the start.

Fans were baffled when formerly cooperative city officials refused to issue the necessary permits. While some said the change of heart was due to old tensions between hippies and the police, rumors spread that concert promoter Bill Graham had convinced authorities to scuttle the show.

GrahamThe Stones had infuriated Graham by rejecting his offer to handle their entire American tour. The pugnacious promoter had to settle for a single Bay Area gig instead. Bill Graham had an ego as big as any rockstar’s, and he never forgot a slight. When The Rolling Stones arrived at the Oakland Coliseum in November of 1969, they were greeted by a large photo of Graham giving them the finger, hung over the backstage buffet. Things went downhill from there.

The Stones and their entourage pelted the photo with food. A shouting match with Graham ensued. The two sides came to blows after the promoter and his security goons began taking their frustrations out on the fans, and Charlie Watts saw Graham slap a teenage girl. The show did eventually go on, but the bad blood remained.

Bill Graham was making a fortune by monetizing the Bay Area music scene, ruthlessly eliminating the flower power competition that had nurtured it to life. Torpedoing a free Stones gig would have allowed him to protect his turf while taking revenge on the band, but evidence that he actually did remains anecdotal.


With the park off limits, Hollywood rode to the rescue. Filmways—the production company responsible for a string of hit TV shows, includingThe Beverly HillbilliesGreen Acres and Hollywood Squares—had recently purchased the Sears Point Raceway. The company generously offered the track as a venue for the free show, with the stipulation that the band would have to pay a few thousand dollars to cover the cost of an insurance rider. Close to San Francisco and less than a year old, the Sears Point facility was an ideal solution. All parties agreed to a December 6 date. Stage and Lighting Designer Chip Monck and his crew began setting up the stage, lighting and sound system.

Then the corporate execs pulled a fast one, demanding a huge pre-show payment (the reported number ranges from $100,000 to $450,000 to $6 million) to cover insurance, clean up and other costs. What’s more, they insisted the Stones sign over all film and video rights free of charge.

FilmwaysStonesWith staging under construction and thousands of fans from around the country en route, the Hollywood hotshots must have figured their squeeze play was a sure thing. They had no clue that the Rolling Stones were nearly broke, or that Allen Klein, who was sitting on the bulk of the Stones’ fortune, would never surrender such a potentially lucrative copyright. Abandoning Sears Point was the band’s only option.

Still, neither Jagger nor Richards was willing to give up on the free show. Tour Manager Ronnie Schneider decided they needed legal help to pull it off, and enlisted legendary San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli in the cause. As is the case with many of the people the Stones encountered during their storied career, calling the lawyer a colorful character hardly does him justice.

MelBelBelli’s effectiveness in personal injury cases had earned him the nickname “The King of Torts” His opponents preferred “Melvin Bellicose.” His long list of celebrity clients included Mae West, Muhammad Ali and Tony Curtis. Belli had even defended Jack Ruby when the Texan was tried for killing Lee Harvey Oswald—a murder broadcast live on national television.

A pioneer of the class action lawsuit, Belli was well-known, well-connected and very well off. Long before the skull and crossbones flew over Apple headquarters, Belli famously ran the Jolly Roger up the flagpole atop his Barbary Coast office building every time he won a case. Adding a flourish that even Steve Jobs did not dare duplicate, Belli fired a celebratory cannon shot as well.

Though he was a preening, egomaniacal dandy, Belli was also an immensely charming raconteur with an impressive ability to sway opinions and get things done. And he was more than happy to pull strings for The Rolling Stones.

Sears Point wasn’t the only Northern California racetrack under new ownership. Dick Carter, a middle aged Bay Area businessman, had recently purchased the Altamont Speedway, located 90 miles northeast of San Francisco near the small town of Livermore. Drivers loved the track, but it had struggled financially since opening in the summer of ’66. Altamont seemed to be just a little too far from everywhere to be successful.


Dick Carter was hungry to publicize Altamont, and when he heard a free rock festival was looking for a venue, he jumped at the chance, offering the track at no charge. In a crowded meeting at Melvin Belli’s office with Carter and the press in attendance, Belli deftly brushed past concerns expressed by authorities in a conference call.

“Woodstock West” had found a home at last. Altamont was on.

(This concludes Part XVII. Click now to read Part XVIII: Merciless Angels!)


Throwing Stones XVI: Highway ’69 Revisited

(This is Part XVI. Click here to read Throwing Stones Part XV: For A Song)

In Part XV, Allen Klein signed The Beatles. But a growing rift between Klein and the Stones threatened to scuttle their upcoming American tour.

The cold war between Allen Klein and The Rolling Stones grew hot in the summer of 1969. After years of frustration, the band had tired of their American manager’s refusal to explain their cash flow. Or their lack of cash.

Fiver XCU

All of group’s income went directly to Klein. Incredibly, the Stones had no idea how much was going out or coming in. Band members received no regular financial statements and little in the way of income. When they requested funds for major purchases, they were required to sign loan agreements stating they were borrowing the money. Random documents arrived unexplained in the mail, including letters informing them that personal bank accounts in their names had been opened in America. A modest check would occasionally turn up as well.

Klein claimed his mysterious methods were helping the Stones avoid England’s extraordinarily high taxes. The Stones suspected he was lowering their taxes by keeping the bulk of their earnings for himself. The band hired a British law firm to pry information out of Klein, but the wily American had little trouble keeping well-mannered English solicitors at bay.

Mick 69

Mick Jagger decided Klein had to go. But Jagger was busy acting in a movie in Australia at the time, and left it to Keith Richards and newly hired road manager Sam Cutler to can Klein. Upon hearing the news, Klein simply refused to be fired. He had a contract and wasn’t about to budge. And now that they had crossed him, he wasn’t about to give the Stones a nickel to fund their upcoming American tour.

Jump that, Jack Flash.

As so often happened, the Stones dreamed up a ridiculous solution that never should have worked but did. They hired Allen Klein’s twenty-six-year-old nephew, Ronnie Schneider, to handle the tour. Schneider had worked for his uncle when Klein and the band were still getting along. His responsibilities included shepherding the Stones around the States on their 1965 and 1966 treks. The Stones knew him, liked him and trusted him.

Schneider told the band that he would have to get his uncle’s blessing before taking the job. They were fine with that. Since Klein still viewed himself as the band’s manager, he was fine with his nephew getting the gig. Only one problem remained. Somebody had to come up with the cash to fund the tour.

Ronnie Schneider was smart, hardworking, enthusiastic and too inexperienced to know what he was up against. But he’d learned a few tricks from his Uncle Allen.

170px-69rstonebyrdThe William Morris Agency was in the final stages of nailing down a deal to book the tour when Klein butted heads with the band. Ronnie Schneider snowed the Morris agents, telling them he was going with a different firm. Having finally learned the value of rock ’n’ roll, William Morris was desperate to hang on to the year’s hottest tour. They agreed to cut their commission in half and put up $15,000 of funding.


Schneider then leaned on local promoters, demanding an unprecedented 50% advance and a cut of the gross receipts. Smaller venues were to be passed over in favor of large arenas. Some would feature two shows a day. Ticket prices would top out at $8, a major sticker shock at the time. Nobody knew if the Stones could fill all those seats. But nobody wanted to risk losing them, either.


Schneider kept control of all merchandising, licensing and ancillary rights within the Stones’ organization, funneling more money into the bands’ coffers. The cash-strapped Stones and the erstwhile Schneider didn’t realize it at the time, but they were creating a new business model for the concert industry. It remains in place to this day.


Well-known filmmakers the Maysles brothers were contracted to film the tour for a documentary. A live album was planned, moving the band one step closer to fulfilling its contract without the need for new material or expensive studio time. The tour was scheduled to wrap at the end of November. The band’s new studio album, “Let It Bleed,” would hit the shelves just a few days later. Sales were sure to be boosted by the tour’s press coverage, another Ed Sullivan appearance and the holiday shopping season.

It promised to be a very, very merry Christmas for The Rolling Stones.

Ronnie Schneider had rolled the tumbling dice and pulled off a showbiz miracle. Now it was the Stones’ turn. If anything went wrong during the first third of the fourteen-city tour, the lack of adequate upfront funding meant the entire enterprise would collapse like a house of cards.

Sully XC

The Stones did not disappoint. The arenas were packed. The band roared. The audiences were putty in Jagger’s hands. The reviews were ecstatic. The press ate it up.

Things were going so well that the band added a festival date in Florida. They even decided to headline a free show in California, an idea first pitched to them by members of The Grateful Dead. Mick Jagger told the press that the free festival was their way of thanking the fans and extending the spirit of Woodstock, the three-day music marathon that had captured the world’s imagination that summer. He didn’t mention that they hoped it would counteract the bad PR generated by their high ticket prices and provide a glorious grand finale for their tour documentary as well.

And so, with all the best intentions, the Rolling Stones unwittingly put themselves on the road to a place called Altamont.

(This concludes Part XVI. Click now to read Part XVII: You Gotta’ Move)


Throwing Stones XV: For A Song

(This is Part XV. Click Throwing Stones XIV:Bad Apples to read the previous chapter.)

In Part XIV, Rolling Stones’ Manager Allen Klein made his play for The Beatles as the Stones worked on a new album.

By February, 1969, John Lennon was convinced that Allen Klein was the ultimate rock ’n’ roll manager. Mick Jagger was no longer sure. Four years after The Rolling Stones signed with Klein, Jagger and the rest of the band had grown deeply distrustful of the blustery American.

Mick XcuInitially, Klein had been generous with the Stones, doling out large sums of money with a smile. In 1966, when Keith Richards inquired if he could afford to buy a home in one of London’s toniest neighborhoods, Klein cut the guitarist a check for the full purchase price. But as time went by, the checkbook tightened, and Mick Jagger in particular began to suspect that their wily manager was getting the best of the Stones’ business deals.

Klein had an ironclad contract, and didn’t appreciate being questioned or second-guessed. Getting either money or answers out of him became increasingly difficult. Eager to warn John Lennon of Klein’s behavior, Mick Jagger set up a meeting with his fellow rocker. But when Jagger arrived, he was stunned to see that Lennon had invited Allen Klein as well. Wary of a direct confrontation with Klein, Jagger left with his famous lips sealed.

Perhaps he should have met with Lennon’s songwriting partner instead.

linda4After splitting with actress Jane Asher, Paul McCartney had fallen in love with Linda Eastman, a young American photographer. Contrary to still-popular rumors, Linda Eastman was not the heir to the Eastman-Kodak fortune. But she was from a wealthy New York family. Linda’s father, Lee Eastman, was one of the world’s top intellectual property lawyers, and had decades of entertainment industry experience. Linda’s brother, John, had recently joined her father’s practice.

Before Allen Klein met John Lennon, Paul McCartney had suggested that Lee and John Eastman were ideal candidates to sort out the mess at Apple Corps. Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had initially agreed. They had no viable alternatives to suggest, and were duly impressed by the Eastmans’ expertise. Still, they were understandably concerned that Linda’s family members would be biased towards Paul, especially after he married Linda on March 12, 1969. What’s more, they had grown to resent what they saw as McCartney’s pushiness regarding the band’s business and creative efforts. Eventually, the idea of the Eastmans and Allen Klein co-managing the band was suggested as a reasonable compromise.


Though John Lennon had abdicated his role as the leader of The Beatles for years, he had grown to resent McCartney the most of all. Paul had made a tremendous effort to accommodate Yoko Ono, but Ono had her own agenda, and stoked Lennon’s ire. In retrospect, it’s no surprise that John Lennon took an immediate (although unjustified) dislike to the Eastmans, decrying them as pretentious, social climbing, elitist snobs. Klein was more than happy to join Lennon in parroting this line to Harrison and Starr.

In a meeting at Apple attended by both Klein and the Eastmans, Klein, Lennon and Ono mercilessly baited Lee Eastman, goading the lawyer into exploding at Klein. Lennon then claimed that Eastman’s outburst proved Paul’s New York attorney in-laws were nothing more than pompous, self-important phonies.

life-magazine-paul-mccartneyWhen the four Beatles sat down to decide who would manage the band and handle the turnaround at Apple, Allen Klein got three votes. The Eastmans got one. The Fab Four  had a standing rule that all significant decisions had to be unanimous, and McCartney was shocked to hear his bandmates insist that the rule was no longer valid—Klein had won by majority and that was that. It was the beginning of the end.

Allen Klein moved into Apple and began slashing staff. But Klein’s cuts were motivated by more than simple cost savings. He wanted absolute control. Thus, good, loyal, hardworking employees were thrown out with the bad apples. That included Ron Kass, the seasoned record executive who had made the company’s record division its one shining success. Talent scout and producer Peter Asher (Jane’s brother) had also played a vital role in Apple Records’ achievements. Asher refused to let Klein humiliate him, and resigned before he could be fired. He went on to become one of the most successful producers of the rock era.

Klein renegotiated The Beatles’ contract with EMI, substantially increasing their royalty rate. He also brought Apple’s expenses under control. But his aggressiveness cost the Beatles their chance to buy back the Estate of Brian Epstein’s financial interest in the band. Epstein’s spooked heirs sold it to an investment trust instead, blindsiding The Beatles.

Meanwhile, music publisher Dick James had grown weary of John and Yoko’s increasingly odd public behavior and wary of the band’s ongoing business imbroglios. James held a controlling interest in Northern Songs, Ltd., the publicly held publishing company that owned the Lennon-McCartney team’s song copyrights. John and Paul were minority shareholders; George and Ringo owned small stakes as well.

imagesJames announced that he was selling his interest to ATV Entertainment, a conglomerate owned by Lord Lew Grade, a cigar-chomping British showbiz mogul. The Beatles felt utterly betrayed. Klein promised to stop the sale. But neither Klein nor the Eastmans were able to prevent it, especially after a frustrated John Lennon foolishly threw a tantrum in a critical meeting and denounced a group of potential white knight co-investors as just another bunch of greedy businessmen.

200px-Mick_Taylor_1972But what of The Rolling Stones? Unlike their Liverpool pals, Jagger and Richards’ outfit was firing on all cylinders. The addition of guitarist Mick Taylor had turbocharged their most creative period. Their rollicking summer single, “Honky Tonk Women,” spent weeks at number one on both the U.S. and U.K. charts. The band’s first U.S. tour in over three years was penciled in for the fall, along with another appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  A new album was scheduled for release as soon as the tour wrapped. The Stones had even decided to title the LP “Let It Bleed,” in sly mockery of their rivals’ (as yet unreleased) “Let It Be.”

With the Fab Four falling apart, every Stones concert would serve as a coronation. Jagger and Richards were confident that the band would return from America crowned as the reigning kings of rock ’n’ roll. And then, they discovered that there was no money available to fund a tour.

(This concludes Part XIV. Click now to read Throwing Stones XVI: Highway ’69 Revisited!)


Throwing Stones XIV: Bad Apples

(This is Part XIV. To read Part XIII, click Throwing Stones: The Devil & Mr. Jones)

In Part XIII, founding member Brian Jones was fired from The Rolling Stones and died under mysterious circumstances a few weeks later.

Having replaced Brian Jones with Mick Taylor and scheduled their first America Tour in over three years, The Rolling Stones continued to work on the follow-up to Beggars Banquet. Business manager Allen Klein stayed busy, too.

Nationwide DickIn 1967, Klein acquired Cameo Records and its subsidiary label, Parkway. Founded in Philadelphia in 1956, Cameo had reaped huge benefits from being based in the same city as American Bandstand, Dick Clark’s nationally broadcast TV teen-dance sensation. Booking Cameo-Parkway artists on Bandstand was easy, and whenever Clark got in a pinch or needed a fill-in for a cancellation, Cameo-Parkway got the call.

Chubby TwistThough Cameo-Parkway had a number of hits, it is best known for Chubby Checker’s version of “The Twist,” which topped the U.S. charts in both 1960 and 1962, inspiring a long-running nationwide dance craze.

(Cocktail party conversation starter: the first references to a dance called “the twist” appeared in American minstrel songs as early as 1844!)

Two years after “The Twist” returned to the number one slot, the British Invasion clobbered Cameo-Parkway and other American independent labels. As if that wasn’t enough, American Bandstand relocated to Los Angeles, depriving the label of its most potent launchpad. The founders sold the company, but the new owners were unable to reverse the slide, despite hitting number one with “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. (Insert Vox Continental Organ riff here.)

ABKCO LogoMGM Records purchased Cameo-Parkway in 1967. MGM then sold the struggling label to Klein, who was a major MGM stockholder. Klein restructured his own company as ABKCO, which he jokingly claimed was an acronym for “A Better Kind of Company.”  It actually stood for “Allen & Betty Klein & Company.”  (Betty was Klein’s wife.) ABKCO obtained the master recording catalogs of MGM artists Herman’s Hermits and The Animals from producer Mickie Most. But Allen Klein was far from satisfied. He was playing the long game, and had set his sights on the biggest act in show biz: The Beatles.

Less than three months after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in June of ’67, Brian Epstein was found dead in the master bedroom of his London townhouse. The man famous for discovering and managing The Beatles had succumbed to a lethal combination of alcohol and prescription sleeping medication at the age of thirty-two. Epstein’s death was ruled accidental, though rumors flew that he had been driven to suicide by romantic disappointments, amphetamine addiction and a gnawing fear that The Beatles were planning to dump him. (They weren’t.)

Epstein Dead

Epstein’s sudden demise devastated The Fab Four. Years later, John Lennon said that his first thought upon learning of their manager’s death was, “We’ve had it.”  Allen Klein heard the news of Brian Epstein’s death over a car radio. Legend has it that he was overjoyed, and began shouting, “Now, I’ve got them!”

John, Paul, George and Ringo had never been well versed in the business side of their band. With Epstein gone, they found themselves overwhelmed by financial decisions. Told they needed to start a business to soften the blow of England’s brutally high income taxes, they initially backed the hot fashion collective The Fool’s retail operation.

Unfortunately, the hippie-dippy designers who comprised the Fool were far more interested in spending the Beatles money on themselves than a store. The boutique generated huge losses, and was closed in the summer of 1968.  John and Yoko deemed that the existing stock should be given away, creating a snatch-and-grab shopping event that deteriorated into a near-riot.

The Beatles also launched Apple Corps, Ltd., an entertainment company that included a film division and a record label. At one point they seriously considered a joint venture with the Rolling Stones that would have merged key aspects of the two bands’ business operations. Despite promising initial meetings and Mick Jagger telling the press that the new company would be called Pear, each band eventually decided against the idea. At some point, Mick Jagger recommended Allen Klein to Paul McCartney, but McCartney never got in touch with Klein.

Apple LogoThe Beatles had big dreams for Apple, and new divisions, including music publishing and consumer electronics, were added. Despite the success of the record division, Apple quickly became a financial sinkhole. Too many friends and hangers on were being paid too much to do too little. Every new idea, no matter how impractical, seemed to be funded ad absurdum. Ridiculous expenses like a fully stocked, in-house wine cellar and on-staff chefs were common.

By the end of 1968, Apple’s levelheaded young accountant was fed up. His resignation letter warned The Beatles that, despite their years of success, the chaos at Apple would eventually bankrupt the band members.

CircusThat same December, John and Yoko were guests on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, a star-studded TV special that remained unseen until 1996 due to music licensing issues and the Stones unhappiness with their own performance. During the taping, Klein introduced himself to Lennon, humbly describing himself as “an accountant.” Lennon responded positively, saying that he feared ending up broke like American movie star Mickey Rooney. Klein’s face lit up.

Lennon Live

In January, 1969, John Lennon went public, moaning in an interview that the Beatles would be ruined in six months if they didn’t get Apple’s house in order.  Allen Klein began calling Lennon, and a meeting was arranged. As usual, Klein had done his homework. He knew Lennon’s music inside and out, and had versed himself in Yoko’s avant-garde works as well.

Klein outlined his strategies for straightening out the Apple fiasco, and even mentioned that he could get monies from United Artists’ movie deal with the Beatles to fund Yoko’s distinctly noncommercial experimental films (!). Without consulting the other Beatles, John Lennon wrote a letter stating that Allen Klein would be handling all of his business affairs. The tough-talking orphan from New Jersey who had earned his accounting degree in night school was on his way to managing the biggest band of all time.

(This concludes Part XIV. Click now to read Throwing Stones XV: For A Song!)


Throwing Stones XIII: The Devil And Mr. Jones

(This is Part XIII. To read Part XII, click Throwing Stones XII: Joltin’ News Flash.)

In Part XII, world events spiraled out of control and the Stones made a remarkable comeback.

FlyerBy 1969, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were eager to get the Rolling Stones back on the road. The music boom that had begun with Beatlemania showed no signs of stopping, and rock concerts were becoming very big business. A savvy new breed of promoters, epitomized by San Francisco’s Bill Graham, realized just how much money there was to be made, and began offering unprecedented paydays to popular acts.

With Beggars Banquet topping the charts and Allen Klein demanding a premium price, the Stones were getting the biggest offers of all. Only one man stood in their way. Oddly enough, his name was Brian Jones.

A chill had settled over swingin’ London, and few had felt its effects more deeply than Jones. For years, Scotland Yard had shown little interest in celebrity drug busts. But following the appointment of Norman “Knobby” Pilcher to the force’s drug squad, the police appeared to have become obsessed with them. Donovan, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and George Harrison were among Pilcher’s pinches.


Soon, Detective Sgt. Pilcher was a celebrity in his own right. Hardly surprising, since the tabloid press just happened to be in the vicinity whenever Knobby carried out his “undercover” operations. Pilcher always got his star, and the papers always got their stories. But many of those arrested by  Sgt. Pilcher’s front-page press club band claimed that the drugs had actually arrived with the publicity-hungry detective. It wasn’t long before the old schoolers who ran Scotland Yard began to suspect the stars were telling the truth.

Clearly, Norman Pilcher was a man who enjoyed shooting fish in a barrel. In that spirit, the fast-rising detective had made sure that Brian Jones topped his squad’s hit parade. Near-constant police surveillance took Jones’ paranoia to new, out-of-control levels.  Jones was arrested twice for drug possession, but managed to avoid jail time. However, his convictions made his chances of getting the work visas required for international tours dismally low.

Six years earlier, Brian Jones had been the talented, driven, controlling leader of the Rolling Stones. His transformation  into a harried, hapless addict teetering on the edge of complete physical and psychological collapse was a truly grotesque turn of events. Visa issues aside, the idea of Jones surviving a rigorous rock tour was absurd.

220px-Rolling_Stones_Sympathy_for_the_DevilGiven the fallout of their own drug bust, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been supportive of Brian Jones. But as tour offers mounted and Jones declined, their attitude grew cold. Jagger even referred to Jones as “a wooden leg” during a newspaper interview. Unbeknownst to Jones, the band began recording with Mick Taylor, a masterful young guitarist who had cut his teeth with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

As the Stones worked on the follow-up to Banquet, manager Allen Klein confirmed an American tour, and the U.S. government refused to issue a work visa for Brian Jones. On June 8, 1969, Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts arrived at Jones’ recently purchased home, a country manor once owned by Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne (!). Their meeting with Brian was brief and tense. When it was over, Brian Jones was no longer a Rolling Stone.

Though Jones was fired, the public was told his parting was an amicable one. Brian was leaving to pursue his own musical projects. Mick Taylor would make his public debut as a Rolling Stone at a free concert in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969.

Less than a month after being booted out of the band he started, Brian Jones was found floating at the bottom of his swimming pool. His girlfriend believed that Jones was still alive when he was pulled from the water, but an ambulance crew pronounced him dead at the scene. He was twenty-seven.

Only Watts and Wyman attended Jones’ funeral, but the Stones turned the concert in Hyde Park into a memorial for their former leader. Hyde Park was the band’s first public performance in over two years. The massive audience, estimated in excess of 250,000 people, was enthusiastic and well behaved. While the band and the critics felt the show was not one of the Stones’ best, the event was enshrined in boomer lore as a historic success.

DarSatan Cker tales were becoming generational staples as well. Rumors that Brian Jones was murdered spread rapidly. Most claimed that the construction crew working on Jones’ house killed the guitarist during an argument over money. Some said that the crew’s foreman accidently drowned Jones when a bit of drunken horseplay got too rough. A particularly juicy story claimed that Brian Jones was the victim of a satanic sacrifice.

Hey, man, the Stones put out an album called Their Satanic Majesties Request,didn’t they? And their next album opened with a song called “Sympathy for the Devil,” didn’t it? And Mick Jagger sang the role of Satan with, like, fiendish delight, didn’t he? C’mon, man, those dudes made a deal with the dark one, became huge stars, and paid off Beelzebub with Brian’s soul!

Riiiiight. Did I mention that Janis Joplin is the groovy grandma owner of a tie-dye store in Arkansas? That Elvis, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass meet for breakfast every Sunday at a donut shop in Walla Walla? And that Jimi Hendrix stays busy giving guitar lessons on Mars? (Having listened to Electric Ladyland recently, I think that last one might actually be true.)

One thing is certain. In 1973, an English court convicted Detective Norman Pilcher of perjury and perversion of justice. Having suspected “Knobby” of illegal shenanigans for years, his superiors couldn’t ignore obvious proof that Pilcher had planted evidence during an investigation and lied under oath. He received a four-year prison sentence.

The exact nature of Brian Jones’ final moments will never be known. Despite some intriguing loose ends, two investigations failed to turn up solid evidence of criminality. An autopsy revealed that Jones’ heart and liver were grossly enlarged due to years of drug and alcohol abuse. It also established Pooh Jarthat Jones was full of wine and downers—a lethal combination on dry land, let alone in a heated pool.

The fact that Brian Jones met his fate on a property previously owned by the man who created Winnie the Pooh seems incongruous. But it’s sadly fitting. Like Milne’s silly old bear, Brian Jones got his head stuck in the honey jar. But unlike Pooh, Jones proved incapable of escaping his self-inflicted predicament, and it cost him everything.

(This concludes Part XIII. Click now to read Throwing Stones XIV: Bad Apples!)