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The Rolling Stones Vs Australia: A Short History

Written by Greg Moskovitch on December 4, 2013

It’s now been confirmed that The Rolling Stones, arguably the world’s most legendary active rock and roll band, will soon be making their return to Australia to play a series of very special one-off shows around the country, with Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hanging Rock and their previously announced show at the Adelaide Oval all on the cards.

The chatter first began in October, when it was revealed that the Adelaide government were vying to get the Stones to return to the country in which they’ve played some of their most memorable shows, and returning to a city in which they hadn’t played since they performed at Football Park in 1995.

The Stones have a storied history with our golden shores, notably marked by some unforgettable performances and some kerfuffles they probably wish we would forget. But, in the interest of the rock and roll education of our readers, and to celebrate the return of one of modern music’s greatest and most celebrated acts, Music Feeds has archived a few of the more interesting interactions that the mighty Stones have had with our fair land.


1. The First Tour

The Rolling Stones first toured Australia in January and February of 1965, at the very height of Stones fever and following the release of their second UK album, The Rolling Stones No. 2, which netted them a classic Stones recording in the form of their cover of Time Is on My Side.

During their first trip, the band played two Melbourne gigs at St. Kilda’s Palais Theatre, three for lucky Sydney, two in Brisbane and single shows for Adelaide and Perth as part of a package tour with future legend Roy Orbison, The Newbeats, and Ray Columbus & the Invaders.

The Newbeats, Ray Columbus & The Invaders and the Stones all appeared on almost-forgotten Aussie music program Big Beat, with Jagger and band performing three tracks to playback.

Watch: Rolling Stones – Walking The Dog (Big Beat, 1965, Enhanced Sound)


2. Mick Jagger Is Ned Kelly

Who better to play Australia’s most notorious bushranger and iconic folk hero, than one of rock and roll’s most notorious frontmen and the subject of extensive rock apocrypha? This 1970 film was filmed entirely in Australia, with photography conducted mostly around Braidwood, near Canberra in NSW.

The film was an unmitigated success in making a bad film, so much so that, as of 1980, Jagger had never actually seen the picture. Neither Jagger nor the film’s director Tony Richardson attended the film’s London premiere, and the film was panned for being awkward and poorly paced.

You can see the carnage for yourself in the below clip, which features fake rain in sunlight, shabby continuity, Jagger’s woeful accent, casual racism and the world’s worst long jump contest.

Watch: Ned Kelly – Long Jump Contest


3. Jagger Flops With The Director Of Walkabout

Nicolas Roeg is widely regarded as one of post-war cinema’s darkest and most calculating directors, his style notable for incredible cinematography and highly cerebral meditations on fish-out-of-water characters. He is arguably best known for his Australia-set 1971 film Walkabout.

Before that, however, and before Jagger starred as the bearded baddie Kelly, Roeg co-directed Jagger in the 1970 British crime drama Performance, which critic Richard Schickel described as “the most completely worthless film I have seen since I began reviewing.” Leave the films to Bowie, Mick.

Watch: Performance trailer


4. Rolling Stones Pacific Tour 1973

By the ’70s, The Rolling Stones’ reputation as the troublemakers of rock and roll had truly been cemented. The band’s ’65 Australian shows were critically panned as a result of their reputation for being bad boys with long hair, and bad press and drug convictions were hounding the band.

Their 1973 ‘Pacific Tour’ was scheduled to bring the Stones back to Australia, which hadn’t seen the band since 1966, but was plagued by immigration troubles. Their 21st February show at Adelaide’s Memorial Drive Park saw 5,000 Stones fans clashing with local police, with 21 arrests made.

Watch: Rolling Stones challenge Australian reporters over drug allegations (1973)


5. Brian Jones Dies, Mick Jagger Remembers Bondi

Sam Cutler, the band’s long-time tour manager, describes in his autobiography You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life With The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates speaking to Mick Jagger about the death of Stones member Brian Jones.

Jones was found dead on the bottom of his pool in July 1969, which coroners ruled as misadventure, though some claim was murder. In the book Cutler describes an Australian tour moment Jagger shared with him upon hearing of Jones’ death.

Jagger told Cutler that the guitarist’s death couldn’t possibly have been a result of drowning, recalling a time when the Stones were at Bondi Beach in Sydney, and Jones “had swum so far out to sea that no-one could see him,” a testament to his strength as a swimmer.

Watch: Sam Cutler – You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Bondi interview


6. The Stones’ 2003 Enmore Theatre Show

For their 2003 visit to Australia, the band, now elder statesmen of rock, spent a week with their families and kids on some of the East Coast’s pleasure spots. Of course their gig at Sydney’s 2,000-seat Enmore Theatre proved that, while they may have been getting on in years, they were still an incendiary live act.

According to the ABC‘s Hamish Fitzsimmons, who reported on the show, “Police had to block one the main roads in the inner west when the band took the stage and an impromptu street party got underway. Locals brought chairs and even a lounge down to the street for added comfort.”

And there was, of course, the guest appearance by AC/DC…

Watch: Rolling Stones – Rock Me Baby (With AC/DC)

http://youtu.be/8zhMh_NABTc


7. Aussie Reports Spark Rumours Of Charlie Watts’ Departure

Charlie Watts has a reputation as a contentious force in the Stones, once punching Mick Jagger in the mouth for referring to him as his drummer. “You’re my singer!” insisted Watts. So it wasn’t a huge shock when Aussie reports surfaced that he quit, even though they didn’t happen to be true.

The band were quick to rubbish the Herald Sun‘s claims that Watts had retired from touring and was being replaced with another drummer, calling them “a fabricated and ill-informed report that appeared yesterday on a small music website in Australia”. Now that’s a burn.


The Rolling Stones Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, 19th March 2014
Perth Arena, Perth
Tix: Via Ticketek | 132 849
Pre-sale starts Monday, 9th December 3:00pm Perth time

Saturday 22 March 2014 (SOLD OUT)
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Tuesday, 25th March 2014
Allphones Arena, Sydney
Tix: Via Ticketek | 132 849
Pre-sale starts Monday, 9th December 3:00pm Sydney time

Friday, 28th March 2014
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Tix: Via Ticketek | 132 849
Pre-sale starts Monday, 9th December 4:00pm Melbourne time

Sunday, 30th March 2014
Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges
Tix: Via Ticketmaster | 132 849
Pre-sale starts Monday, 9th December 2:00pm VIC time

Wednesday, 2nd April 2014
Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Tix: Via Ticketek | 132 849
Pre-sale starts Monday, 9th December 4:00pm Brisbane time

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