By Lachman Balani
TORONTO: Way back in the mid 60s , a cousin of ours came down to India from the US and brought with him a 45 rpm of the Rolling Stones first big international hit ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’, which till today remains one of the top classic rock songs of all time.
It was my first contact with the inimitable Mick Jagger and his band, the Rolling Stones, and it pushed to the rear Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and even The Beatles who reigned supreme at that time. This was gritty stuff with lyrics like ‘cos he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me’ which for us meant strong bidis and what went into a chillum, ubiquitous phenomena in India. They were known as the yobs (Boy spelt backwards- signifying bad boys) from UK as opposed to the good boys- The Beatles.
Then came another great song of theirs ‘Paint it Black’, which following on the footsteps of The Beatles’ song ‘Norwegian Wood’ included a sitar. That was it! I was hooked and became a die-hard fan which persists till today.
My first chance to see them live came in 1969 at the massive Madison Square Garden in New York City where he danced his famed shuffle. By that time, one of the original band members, Brian Jones, had passed away and was replaced by Mick Taylor of the ‘John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers Band’.
It was the biggest concert I had attended till then and it blew me away with 666% pure rock energy! At exactly the moment when they broke into ‘he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me’ the whole amphitheatre was engulfed in cannabis fumes.
‘Street fightin’ man’ got all the roars and cheers possible as it reflected the sign of those troubled times during the Vietnam war! That US tour was dubbed as ‘history’s fist mythic rock and roll tour!’
This concert preceded the grisly and brutal Altamont concert in the US where, when The Stones came on after Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and other bands, the bikers Hell’s Angels who were hired for security, actually stabbed a person to death.
This was an extremely sad ending to their US tour, though a big cult claimed that because there were other accidental deaths and also child births, it was truly representative of the rock scene- all the good(child births), the bad (accidental deaths) and the ugly(stabbing)!
After that I again saw them at the same venue in 1972 where Mick Jagger celebrated his 29th birthday by dunking his whole face into a cake on stage and making the historic comment that he did not know if he would continue performing when he was 30!
I saw the Stones perform many times after that but the next really memorable time was in Madrid at the Estadio Vicente Calderon in 1990 for the Urban Jungle Tour where 70,000 fans went totally bonkers!
Then the next memorable one was right here in Toronto in 2005 at the Rogers Centre where almost 50,000 fans from grandparents to parents to grandchildren attended the show. It was more like a gathering at the children’s amusement park Wonderland in Toronto until the Stones came on and the auditorium was magically transformed into a rock wonderland!
Mick Jagger has had an on/off ‘love/hate’ relationship with his music partner Keith Richards and in between left The Rolling Stones to start a solo career and dabble in films, but it didn’t really take off, so the Stones regrouped.
Mick Jagger throughout his career has partnered with others to do a song or two or many. He has teamed up with David Bowie, the king of pop-Michael Jackson and most recently with the Mozart of Madras, none other than one of the greatest composers from the East-A.R Rahman. He formed a supergroup with Rahman, Bob Marley’s son, Damian. and other accomplished musicians where he sang in Sanskrit!
Mick Jagger is a living legend! He not only is one of the best rock lead vocalists of all time, but stories abound about his virility, having had affairs with numerous women. He has also purportedly experimented with all types of mind-altering drugs. He has been performing with the Stones for 50 years and they are currently on their ‘50 years and counting’ tour. So far they have toured Europe, UK, US and were also here in Toronto for two concerts, one in May and the other in June. He is a true rock star!
Despite his age, Mick Jagger is extremely energetic running all over the stage and is still the only one who can really ‘move like Jagger !’
May he always be as dynamic as ever and may he still keep on rocking and have us dancing on our feet! After all as he still sings: ‘It’s only rock and roll and I like it, yes I do…”
I still ‘can get no satisfaction’ after having seen him several dozen times!
Also read: Happy birthday, Sir Mick