"I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir."
~ David Bowie

Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, 1972

© Ethan Russell

The Rolling Stones embarked on their 1972 American tour to support the release of Exile on Main Street— which in and of itself was a push into new territory for the band, both musically and commercially. What followed rewrote the game for The Stones and the music industry, and basically set the stage for a decade of big, balls-out tours that went from being simple promotional vehicles the pop culture events. Nothing like this had been done in Rock ‘n’ Roll prior and all subsequent tours would follow the ’72 tour blueprint for scale, attempted musicality, logistics, legal entanglements, drugs, women, hilarity, hangers-on, and general debauchery.

The Stones had not toured America since their Altamont disaster in 1969 (which led to heightened security; private planes, limos, and higher stages to reduce public access to the band), and being the biggest band in Rock and needing some cash, they set out to put together a tour like no other. What followed that June and July of ’72 is the stuff of legend. You could make the argument the overused term “party like a rock star” was born here. The private plane with the famous tongue logo, the glamorous celebrity hangers-on, the traveling press corps, the massive amount of drugs, and a much publicized four day orgy at the Chicago Playboy mansion are a few of the legendary tales to come out of the tour.

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