What happened?  …

Well yes … you guessed it – the set was changed. Not too radically and it took some time to effect the changes.

The problem of course was the sheer scale of the set. I’ve witnessed 29, yes 29, gigantic METALLICA trucks (and trailers!) parked inside Earls Court, London, and seen the extravagant set erected in a day with a massive crew, but this monster surpassed all precedents. There were two, sometimes three complete sets which leap-frogged each other on tour as it was impossible to strike and erect the thing in one day. What Mick and Keith want – Mick and Keith get. The stage design was adapted over several days whilst the tour rock and rolled across Europe. Christ knows what it cost but you don’t get to be The Rolling Stones by compromising.

Every single aspect they do in the multi-million dollar corporate empire which is THE ROLLING STONES leaves nothing to chance. I produced a t-shirt range for URBAN JUNGLE based on the new designs – of which 6 would be selected out of a dozen or so fronts and backs presented to the band – as well as specials like the camouflage embroidered hoodie which I loved …

As I said nothing was left to chance. After producing a Master Artwork to create the designs …

… they were worked into specific designs and printed on the actual garments to be sold. These were flown out to each band member – who were basking in the sun on beaches, drinking cocktails on yachts, languishing in country houses and doing whatever they were doing – for choice and approval. The unenviable task of getting approvals was down to Lance who visited them all to report back on final decisions. By this time during the project he was rattled and extremely tired. He arrived at my London studio with a list … ‘design 2 front with design 8 back, design front 6 with design 11 back’ etc. we were off – roll those printing presses …

An Embarrassing Launch Party

So … back to the opening night … my Australian friend and I waited patiently in the hotel lobby after the first gig of the tour – which was truly spectacular. The only access to the Party was in a 6-person lift, heavily guarded by security. Guys the size of houses dared anyone to attempt entry without the relevant VIP passes and suitable accreditation. The atmosphere in the lobby was very odd. Groups of people gathered. In one area there were very attractive young women, dressed to kill, attitudes full on. In another young men strutted, egos bristling in their designer suits or rock’n’roll attire. Special guests swarmed around the lift area – the first to gain access to Hallowed Ground. Our group, production VIP’s and an assortment of Band Friends watched the rest with amusement. They whispered and pointed, nudged and winked at the other groups, making assumptions (who wouldn’t) and passing derisory comments. Finally, caught up in the melee, were hotel guests who were nothing to do with the extravaganza kicking off upstairs – confused, intrigued and often annoyed they scrambled off to their rooms or out of the hotel.

Eventually we stepped into the lift and were rocketed high up in the building. The party was a good one. So often they can be exceedingly dull and a huge disappointment, particularly when the hosts have no intention of even turning up to mingle with hangers-on and wannabes. In this case they were all there – Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Bill and Charlie – celebrating a successful opening night, holding forth, Lords of their comfortable exclusive domain, obviously enjoying themselves. At one point my friend and I sat on the next table to Mick, Keith, Bill and his current young wife Mandy (the press had a field day with that relationship. She was 18 I think when they were married.) By now, a couple of hours into quaffing champagne and fine wine, my lovely friend was – how should I put it politely? – roaring drunk and hardly able to focus on anything at all – except, unfortunately, on one member on the next table. We’ve all been in situations where, for no apparent reason at all, there is a sudden silence. One occurred on the next table at the exact moment my friend decided to make a comment about the young blonde wife accompanying Bill. Her voice was shrill, her unmistakable accent sliced through the air very loudly…

“Jesus Christ dahling …’ she said, holding her champagne glass high in the air “… Look at that girl’s roots. You’d think with all the money she’s got, she could afford to get every single hair dyed individually.”

I just wanted the floor to swallow me up. Heads turned and jaws dropped but, before any reaction could be made, I whisked my friend away with the expertise and speed of a magician. If I could have produced a cloud of smoke to emphasise our dramatic disappearance I would have done but, thankfully, we managed to anonymously and speedily mingle with the other party-goers before we were recognised and approached menacingly by the Deeply Embarrassing Moments Police.

Rock’n’Roll eh? Funny though.

More soon …


  1. Tony Says:

    Nice to see the regular return of the Rock stories from behind the scenes.
    You can always rely on the Aussies to embarass without being prompted.
    Looking forward to more tales.

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