By Bill Dudley

A sold out Staples Center on Monday night proved The Rolling Stones still pack a punch, albeit an expensive one.

It was the final of four Southern California ’50 And Counting’ shows at major venues. Floor level seats ran about $600 for this one, that is for “legitimate” tickets. Some people actually only paid  $85, but didn’t know where they would sit, until the night of the show. For all of us who were there, (in any seat), it was a loud, great night with the original bad boys of Rock n’ Roll. The show started an hour late, but that was actually 1/2 hour less wait than 2006, at their last LA appearance.

Hard to believe these guys are (1) still playing, and (2) still ALIVE… some 50 years later. The Rolling Stones, along with The Beatles and Eric Burdon’s Animals were the very first English bands to appreciate African-American Blues and Soul music.They repackaged those sounds, and actually introduced them to white American audiences. Heavily influenced by Solomon Burke, Etta James, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, they received radio play in the US, when many of our own black artists didn’t. Their song “All Down the line” tells this story best.

I first saw The Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour, which also featured Stevie Wonder just as he was changing his music to the more progressive style he still has today. One of the 1972 highlights was (then) Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor, who joined the band by replacing founding member Brian Jones, when he was only 20 years old. Taylor really stood out in the 1972 show, and is back as a guest artist for the 50 years and Counting Tour. He appeared for at least three songs including “Sway,” “Midnight Rambler,” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

Original Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and drummer Charlie Watts haven’t slowed a bit. Watts is still stoic and methodical at his task, but I did actually catch him smiling once. Sadly, original bass guitar man Bill Wyman made the London shows, but not the LA concerts. Vocalist Lisa Fisher added her piercing vocals (mixed with Jagger’s), on my very favorite Stone’s song “Gimme Shelter.” They didn’t do this one at the LA show on the 2006 tour. Linda has toured with the group singing back-up since 1989. Merry Clayton sang on the original recording of “Gimme Shelter” in 1969.

Saxophonist Bobby Keys was born on the same day  as Keith Richards. They met in 1964 at a teen fair. Bobby has played sax on many famous Rolling Stones songs including “Brown Sugar.” Bobby was also on the 1972 tour, and has played with John Lennon, and many famous early Rock and Roller’s including Elvis Presley, Dion, and Buddy Holly. Bobby’s presence was strongly felt once again at this show.

“Paint it Black,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Miss You” and “Start Me Up” never sounded better. The much demanded encore was a stirring performance of “You Can’t Always Get What you Want” featuring the USC Thornton Chamber Singers.

The current Rolling Stone’s tour has already featured many celebrity guest artists including Keith Urban, Gwen Stefani, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, Katy Perry, Dave Grohl (from Foo Fighters) and John Mayer. Jagger said the audience was the guest artist at the Monday night show. Fine with me, as The Rolling Stones need no guest artist.

That’s why they are called The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band!


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