In 1962, I was 11 years old and in my sixth-grade prime as far as rewriting the class-clown record books within the sandstone walls of St. Charles Elementary. And, as I sat in the epicenter of that building, the cafeteria, where my pals and I ate off green trays Mondays through Fridays and launched Catholic Youth Organizatioin basketballs on Saturdays, the conversation in our bastion of lower learning was generally about sports.
While it’s been a half-century since our sixth-grade shenanigans, amazing, a group of Brits who first performed on a London stage that very same year are still playing to packed houses. The front man of that group who called themselves The Rolling Stones was and continues to be Mick Jagger, and his lead guitarist was and continues to be Keith Richards. And, while their skills may have diminished given the half-century that has flown by, when it comes to their fans’ interest and the money they’ll fork over to see them in person, well, let’s just say, business has never been better.
With the first concert performance of their current 50 and Counting tour at London’s O2 Arena just a few days after Thanksgiving, it became amazingly apparent just how much of a market there still is for aging rockers. Before 20,000 screaming fans, Jagger (69), Richards (68), Ron Woods (the youngster at 65) and Bill Wyman (the senior at 76), played for 2.5 hours. And, while the band’s longtime fans reveled in hits like 1963’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and 1965’s “Get Off of My Cloud,” no doubt, some had to have left asking themselves how on earth did the old dudes play that long and never perform the song that most regard as the most iconic, “Satisfaction.”
Now, I will tell you for my pals and me in the '60s, we weren’t real enamored of The Rolling Stones. We owed allegiance to The Beatles. And, while we secretly admired Jagger’s youthful disrespect, publicly, we were wont to pay tribute to the more mainstream John, Paul, George and Ringo. Listen, the house in which I lived on Latham Avenue was run by a patriarch who could barely stomach my interest in The Beatles. I’m guessing I’d have been sent off to Culver Military were I to have started singing the praises of the far edgier Jagger and mates.
I’m guessing, had you asked Jagger and Richards in those early days just how long they thought they’d expect to earn money plying their skills, they’d have told you, perhaps, a decade … or when they turned 30 … whichever came first.
However, through year after year, hit after hit, experimental drug after drug and groupie after groupie, the band has endured and remains a veritable living and breathing cash register.
Want to know how much? Well, the next concert after Saturday’s in Brooklyn at Barclays Center is Thursday night, the first of two in Newark at the Prudential Center. I figured you might ask me to do some research just in case you were thinking about a nice little early Christmas gift for some loved one who’s a Stones devotee.
Initially, when I saw a ticket listed on the website at $83, I thought, good for them, performing, obviously at a diminished skill level compared to their vernal days, for a relatively modest ticket price. Then, I read the box next to the price, and, somewhere in the distance, I heard the thud of a second shoe dropping. The $83 will give you a parking space, not entry into the Pru.
To actually get inside, the cheapest seat I could find was $388, and it came with the following disclaimer: “This ticket is a Rear View, meaning that it is located behind the action. The performer(s) may be facing away from you for the majority of the show, and your view may be partially blocked due to performance configuration.”
Now, if you actually want to see Mick’s face, the cheapest seat available was 413 of what my father loved to call clams. Just for kicks I kept scrolling down to see what the top-end ticket price was. On I went past the tickets labeled “pit,” which could be had if you’ve a credit card available, for a mere $2,442, because I just knew that wouldn’t be good enough for some of you.
Finally, at the very bottom, there it was! A few tickets were available in the luxury suites for $18,850 a pop. No doubt, those will come with a couple of bowls of chips and pretzels, but I’m guessing a hot dog may be a tack-on!
While I have to believe that The Stones are pretty amazed at the money they still can generate, leave it to the man who is a medical marvel when it comes to closing in on 70 despite, from all accounts, raising (or lowering) the lifetime-of-dissipation bar, to come up with a doozy of a quotation. When he was asked before the London show to articulate his thoughts about embarking on the first Stones tour since 2007, he said, “We’ve got together to rehearse lately, and it feels good. There might be life left in the old dog yet — we’ll die gracefully, elegantly wasted.”
Wow, you’ve just got to tip your hat to an old rocker with pockets lined with cash that can drop an oxymoron like that!