Stuck inside of Warwick

By BEN GERSON  |  October 16, 2006

This was some kind of omen.  Within minutes, a boy of about 17 was dragged out of the hall by four policemen with whom he was struggling.  The cop who was subsequently carried on a stretcher to the crowd’s cheers was considerably less animated.  Small incidents like this (there were several reports of police brutality) helped keep the crowd occupied beyond the half-hour wait the MC had originally promised.  The MC returned to the stage to explain that the Stones had been prevented by the weather from landing at Logan.  There was a delay, but they would arrive.  When Mayor White assumed the stage an hour later, the situation immediately became more serious.  The Stones had been arrested — an “altercation with a photographer” in Warwick, RI, where they had been re-routed to. Gasps from the audience.  “But, I made a phone call and got them out.”  A chorus of whistles and cheers. The mayor said he’d do his best to keep the MTA open late for our benefit. More cheers. Then a somber note.  “Another part of my city is up in flames, the Puerto Rican community.”  He had to leave for there right away, plus bring an extra detail of police from the Garden.  This was either an imprudent piece of information, or a daring appeal to our maturity.  Actually, the crowd had been, and continued to be, reasonably patient.  White’s intercession on behalf of the Stones aimed to ensure that Boston on Tuesday night be held to only one riot.  A plea followed. "I’ve done you a favor, now you do me a favor.  Please go home quietly.”  By the intensity of the audience’s response, it looked like Kevin had made some hefty inroads into the 18-year-old vote.  The Mayor left the stage, the MC threw half a dozen footballs into the crowd, and appropriate to the Garden, the concert was turned into a sporting event.

According to Ron Finkelstein and Gary Stromberg of the Stones’ public relations firm Gibson and Stromberg, the Stones were waiting in a remote corner of the airport to make their connection to Boston when Andy Dickerman, a photographer for the Providence Journal “over-zealously” attempted to take the Stones’ pictures.  The Stones resisted; in the end, no one was hurt, but Mick and Marshall Chess, head of Rolling Stones records, were charged with obstruction of a police officer, and Keith and Stanley Moore, in charge of Stones security, were charged with assault.  Both charges are misdemeanors.  As soon as the arrest occurred, Peter Rudge, the tour manager, called his lawyers in New York, who in turn knew exactly whom to call in Warwick, RI, to expedite the Stones’ release.  It was the contacts of this Warwick lawyer, Stromberg theorized, which were more responsible for freeing th Stones than the ewight of the Mayor’s office.

At 1 a.m. Mick Jagger, wearing a jump suit, a long sash, and a Levi jacket scampered across the stage to the howls of the assembled, and with Taylor to his right, Charlie beyond him, and Keith and Bill to this left, broke into “Brown Sugar,” paused to thank us for our patience, then did “Bitch” and “Rocks Off.”  When I saw the Stones in 1969, I found it impossible to peel away the layers of myth which separated them from us.  For whatever reason, no such impediment to a visceral rock’ n’ roll experience existed this time.  It took me about four numbers to realize it.  It also took the Stones four numbers to get a groove going:  “Gimme Shelter” led the way.

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