The Riot at Kurhaus: Remembering The Rolling Stones first gig in Holland, 1964
By 1964 The Rolling Stones were the only band capable of challenging the fandom that currently swelled around The Beatles. But where the Fab Four were always a police cordon away from their screaming fans, the Stones were always a lot closer to the dangers of rock and roll.
No better is this scene than in the mania Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman created within just a few songs at their riotous debut in Den Haag, Holland. The band would bring the Kurhaus down. Literally.
August 8th, 1964, would be a day that would go down in Dutch pop history as The Rolling Stones arrived with rock and roll in their hearts, a swing in their hips and a glint in their eye. The band were stepping foot on to the continent as a group for the first time and the audience made sure nobody would ever forget it.
“Kurhaus theatre in Holland. It was a very nice opera house theatre,” says Bill Wyman in the footage below. “Tapestry on the walls, chandeliers, boxes, you know,” he continues as he paints the picture of tranquillity and opulence about to be sullied by the decadence of rock and roll. “Went on there. Played one song and they just went nuts.”
The video comes from Dutch music TV show ‘Brigitte’ for TV Noordzee which captured the intensity of the audience. While the original sound has seemingly been lost, the track being played, ‘Carol’, was not actually performed during the evening on August 8th, what we can see is the feverish energy that the Stones embued wherever they went.
The crowd erupt instantly and begin swarming the stage, clambering over the theatre’s ancient seating, and sometimes removing altogether, the hundreds of teenage fans began to turn up the heat.
Soon enough, security guards swarmed the stage in an effort to protect the band from the powerful mob. While it seems clear that the heaving audience was only ever interested in dancing and letting loose, the swell of unstoppable youthful spirit must’ve been overwhelming for the still fresh-faced band.
The band try to move through their set as the security guards become heavier handed and footed, landed kicks to the young faces in the crowd as it swarms the stage. As all the members of the group take collective leaps backwards, Mick Jagger’s microphone cord is soon snapped.
Ever the professional, even then, Mick Jagger grabs some maracas and makes his way to the back of the stage and let the music take the spotlight. As chairs fly through the air, the violence increase and when the police enter the stage it soon becomes apparent that this gig cannot go on.
The Rolling Stones soon escape to the backstage and then on to their waiting cars while the interior of Kurhaus is smashed to pieces but the crowd inside. The police would employ canines to curtail the group out of the theatre and into the street where they were dispersed.
As the teens flew into the streets surrounding the theatre, fleeing into the night and emboldened by the fury of rock and roll rebellion. Every single one of them a Rolling Stones fan for life.
Watch the riot that ensued during The Rolling Stones first Dutch performance at the Kurhaus theatre in 1964.