Rolling again

Jagger and company: to the manner reborn
By PETER HERBST  |  November 14, 2006

This article originally appeared in the June 17, 1975 issue of the Boston Phoenix.

I have a feeling that for the foot soldiers of rock, weary after having witnessed every musical event the Boston Garden has hosted over the last several years, it was just another concert. But for one who’s found himself, all too often, sitting and wondering why all the people surrounding him are standing on chairs and screaming, it was the real thing. Last Wednesday night the Rolling Stones, set against a variously lighted lotus-petal stage, looked like a rock band, and a rock band with a history. Dour bassist Bill Wyman was still in the shadows, virtually motionless (just as he was 10 years ago); Keith Richards in a wide-shouldered suit, guitar slung low and knees slightly bent, reminded me of Eddie Cochran and the other early rock guitarists whose pendulous instruments were less a source of virtuosity than a weapon for the creation of inescapable rhythm; Ron Wood, the “temporary” addition from Faces, who always looks like a toy rock ‘n’ roll statuette but this time, with his rough-hewn Keith Richards hair-do (in defense, Keith affected a more sweeping and evenly cut coiffure) and orange suit, appearing to be a caricature of himself; Charlie Watts, the only real concession to modernity in one of those hair-designer crewcuts, hunched over his drum kit, pounding out those same gigantic riffs that first made the Stones so unavoidable; and Mick Jagger, now the raffish wild-child of the jet set, in a pastel-blue designer denim jacket, pink sweat-pants tied at the ankles and a silky-looking black undershirt, hair slightly longer than usual, as elegantly casual as he has always seemed on the Boston stage.

***

It had all started off very boringly. Even before this latest tour (after the traditional three-year hiatus; the Stones toured America in ’66, ’69, and ’72) the press had begun its steady and thoroughly predictable drum-roll. This time the angle for the rock-oriented press, was the case of the missing guitarist. Mick Taylor, who had replaced Brian Jones in 1969, had left to pursue his private muse, and “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” was forced to cast a net over the vast rock sea in order to catch a sufficiently talented, compatible lead guitarist. Rumors, all of them dismaying (I began to realize after a while that I couldn’t see any current guitarist really contributing to the Stones) were promulgated, and finally Jagger and Richards’ friend Ronnie Wood, whom I’d always considered an eager but ordinary rock journeyman, was selected.

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