The Rolling Stones take over New York and perform in the middle of Fifth Avenue in 1975
Having shared their first new song in eight years, we’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a special story from 45 years ago today. The moment The Rolling Stones left the Big Apple in a mess amid a decadent tour announcement.
Few acts can bring New York to a standstill. But then again, The Rolling Stones aren’t most acts. On this day in 1975 the band would reduce the city’s iconic Fifth Avenue to yet another mob of Stones fans, dazed and confused, wondering what just happened. Just another day for Mick Jagger and co.
Before the days of social media and unrivalled access, the announcements of tours and albums was a rather dull affair. A press release would be shared and the news would arrive in music magazines, newspapers and perhaps, if you were a big band, you might conduct a press conference.
If you’re The Rolling Stones, however, you announce your new tour while going down Fifth Avenue, quite possibly the busiest street in NYC, on the back of a flatbed truck, complete with your new guitarist Ronnie Wood and few songs to boot. If you’re The Rolling Stones you announce your upcoming American tour by taking over New York.
The band were in between albums (It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll and Black & Blue when they invited the press to Fifth Avenue Hotel for a press conference. With the journalists gathered outside, the expectations of a dull afternoon soon evaporated when, from out of the NYC smog and rain, appeared the Stones on the back of a truck, gathering hundreds of people from the streets as they moved.
Instead of the usual affair, the Stones provided yet more confirmation of their status as the Kings of the stage ahead of their Made in Shade tour and posed the question if we’ll do this on Fifth Avenue, what will we do on our own stage. Scott Muni of New York’s legendary rock radio station reported live from the scene, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re out on the street now, outside the restaurant on Fifth Avenue. This is the surprise… the Stones are coming up right now on a flatbed truck.”
“They’re gonna make an announcement in front of the hotel. It’s raining heavily… And shortly we’ll have an announcement from the Stones themselves and maybe, if I’m looking at the flatbed truck correctly, we’re gonna have some music too and that’s the surprise. They’re gonna play a number live, right here in the middle of Fifth Avenue.”
“They’re gonna pull up right in front where we are now. There’s Mick Jagger and the Stones… they’re all here. Now you hear the sound; let’s pick it up!” The band then launch into ‘Brown Sugar’ and turn Fifth Avenue into a Stones show, if only for a few rain-soaked minutes. The band did use the opportunity for another announcement too.
As well as the new tour the band also had a new member to announce in Ronnie Wood who, after many rumours, had been confirmed as the group’s new guitarist. “Ron Wood was on guitar with Jagger,” says Muni, “so the rumours and the things we’ve been reading, some of them semi-official of Wood doing the tour are true, obviously, or he wouldn’t have been on the truck.”
“I hope you could feel some of the excitement that was in the air here,” continued the panting Muni. “We literally were crushed. At this time of day, you know there’s gonna be a backup of traffic as there already is but what a sensational premiere announcement.”
It will go down in history as one of the better rock and roll stunts in history. But who was the mastermind behind the event? Mick Jagger reveals, “I think it was actually Charlie’s idea. Jazz, in the old days in Harlem… they used to do promotions for their gigs on flatbed trucks. Every time we try to do a piece of promotion now, we always refer back to that as the best one.”