Len Trievnor, Getty Images Looks like former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick…
- Posted on Dec 14th 2012 2:30PM by Chris Epting
Keystone Features, Getty
I'm just about where the stage would have been, the very spot where, on the evening of June 5, 1964, the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, played their first U.S. show just a few days after landing in New York City.
With the Stones back on our soil for a series of select East Coast shows, it's hard not to think about this band and its relationship not just with American fans, but also American geography. In almost 50 years since they first arrived, over more than a dozen tours, recording sessions, photo shoots and even living here, they have carved many indelible swaths into the map.
1972 Mug shot - Warwick, Rhode Island Chris Epting
But there are lesser-known locations they've brushed up against that also illustrate the Stones' deep-rooted physical connection to America.
Like the tiny Alabama recording studio called Muscle Shoals, where the band recorded "Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses" and "You Gotta Move" late in 1969 while on their way to Altamont. There's the speck on the map known as Fordyce, Arkansas, where Richards and Ron Wood were arrested in the middle of the band's massive 1975 tour. Cops thought they smelled dope as the Stones left the Four-Dice diner, arrested them, and for a moment the tour almost came crashing to an early halt -- but their release was quickly (and strenuously) negotiated.
House where Scott Cantrell died. Chris Epting
Or the Sacramento stage where Keith Richards was electrically shocked in 1965, the Los Angeles hotel room from where he tossed a TV set out the window, and tragically, his former house in South Salem, N.Y. [pictured above] where a young man, thought to have been having an affair with Richards' paramour Anita Pallenberg, died in a supposed 1979 suicide?
Sunset Sound, where the Rolling Stones worked on Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed and Exile on Main St. Chris Epting
Then there is the music that reflects their experiences here and the culture they've soaked up so sublimely.
A rousing ode to a gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis and a divorcée in New York City; those "Honky Tonk Women." A down-home campfire sing-along celebrating "Sweet Virginia," driving through Bakersfield listening to country music thinking about that girl with "Far Away Eyes," a "Shattered" view of a desperate New York City and a lonely late night shuffle through Central Park in "Miss You" are just some of the lyrical snapshots that these troubadour tourists, aka Jagger/Richards, have snapped so masterfully over the years.
On a dreary May 1, 1975, a storm was threat'ning New York City. Then the Rolling Stones pulled up and played "Brown Sugar" atop a flat bed truck on Fifth Avenue near Washington Square Park to announce their upcoming American tour, creating near-chaos in the streets.
I was 13 at the time and watched it on the news, incredulous that my favorite band in the world had actually come down from that mystical, shrouded, pre-MTV mountain where all rock gods ruled from, to grace the streets with their supernatural presence. Whenever I pass the site today, my mind drifts back to that moment. It is no longer just another city block. It is special, because the Rolling Stones were right there, shaping our history in the same moment they were shaping their own.
How comforting it feels to have them back here on the ground, marking even more sites and making more history as their unprecedented journey rolls on. Little did they imagine in San Bernardino, back in 1964, what lay ahead for them here.
Or then again, maybe they did.
Author, AOL Music contributor and avowed Rolling Stones devotee Chris Epting has written a new e-book, Moonlight Miles – A Guide to Rolling Stones Landmarks Across America 1964-1981, available now from Miniver Press.