How Old To Be A Bottle Girl In A Club The Rolling Stones at Washington, DC RFK Stadium July 4th 1972

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The Rolling Stones at Washington, DC RFK Stadium July 4th 1972

I grew up in the late 60’s as a big fan of the Rolling Stones. My godmother’s daughter (does that make her my goddaughter?) was president of the Rolling Stones fan club in the US in 1966. I had all their records and was desperate to see them play live.

Imagine my delight when tickets became available for the 4th of July concert at RFK Stadium in the spring of 1972. They sold out quickly but I managed to score a few. The time between that day and the actual day of the concert passed very slowly for me.

We all got into a friend’s VW and set off. It was a festival session so we wanted to get there early enough to get decent seats. We happened to arrive around 1:30pm and got perfect seats (for the baseball game – first row behind the 3rd base kickoff) and since the stage was being set up at 2nd base, excellent seats for that night’s show.

So there we were, with 5 hours to kill before Stevie Wonder entertained us as the opening act. The pungent smell of acrid tobacco wafted through the air and bottles of cheap wine were passed around. It was a great atmosphere and everything was going smoothly until we started hearing loud interference behind us. It was shouting and chanting and coming from outside the main gate. Apparently some kids were trying to rush the security manning the entrance and crash the scene!

This was all mildly amusing until someone shouted “they’re shooting tear gas!” Which made us all laugh until the wind changed direction and started blowing gas into the stadium. At that point we stopped laughing and tried to catch our breath. It worked for a while before we needed to actually breathe, and then it was uncomfortable to say the least. Our eyes burned and we all suffered.

Eventually the police got a lead and stopped them with tear gas. The air cleared and the first act took the stage. Stevie Wonder was fine. Almost no one was interested in him (which was a shame), but he did his thing for about half an hour and then walked off the stage to the appreciation of most of the crowd. Such is the life of an opening act.

Then another 45 minutes passed and finally the Stones took the stage. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Ladies and Gentlemen the Rolling Stones”, then it was the same tour. Probably their best tour ever. They were supporting their new album ‘Exile on Main Street’. Lots of good songs plus they did all their hits (exactly the same hits everyone wants to hear today). Mick noted the historic event (after all, he majored in economics and history at the London School of Economics) and congratulated us all on our independence.

I’ve been to four Stones concerts over the years and each one created an atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife. I don’t know what it is about that band, but they do two amazing things every time. They create an amazing atmosphere like I said and treat the crowd like you are equals. Absolutely no sign of “hey I’m a rock star, thanks for your sandwich and we’ll play whatever we want or not play at all, whatever”. It’s weird but you really feel like they’re your friends next door and they’re just hanging out with you for like 2 hours.

Well they played for just over 2 hours and 3 encores and then it was time to stumble back to the car to try and find my way home. All in all, just the best experience a then 20-year-old could have had that didn’t involve Robert Redford and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Come on, use your imagination.

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