Since The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, music has been my passion and, often, my obsession. Through the years, I’ve watched many artists on the Sullivan Show as well American Bandstand, Shindig, Hullabaloo, and Where The Action Is. Usually, the experience of seeing and hearing one or more of these would result in a trip to the record shop to spend my allowance.

Being just a bit too young to fully experience the “Summer of Love” and “Woodstock” (which was probably a blessing in disguise), only fueled the fires of my musical desires. I would go to school dances and events that had “live” bands playing. As good as those bands might have been, they just didn’t satisfy the hunger to experience the “real” thing…the heroes that I’d grown up listening to on radio and records, and watching on TV.

By 1972, all of that was about to change. One day while listening to the radio, it was announced that The Rolling Stones would be coming to town. At that moment, I knew that it was my destiny to witness my favorite rock band (after The Beatles) in the world, LIVE. So, a friend and I concocted a plan to be at the Ticketron outlet before sunrise on the day tickets were to go on sale. I dreamed of the front-row seats we would most assuredly be sitting in, having beaten the crowd to be first in line for tickets. When we arrived that still darkened early morning, the reality of our naiveté hit us like a cold morning slap in the face. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the line of people at the ticket booth. Our dream of front-row seats had now turned 180º to the question of ‘would we get tickets at all?’ After waiting 6 hours for the booth to open, the line slowly began to move. There were constant rumors floating about that the 2 shows had already sold-out, and that there was no use in waiting any longer. Those rumors (for obvious reasons) were probably started somewhere to the rear of the line, but there was no way we were going to give up that easily. We eventually got our tickets, and they did sell-out shortly afterwards. Even though our seats would be near the back corner of the Chicago International Amphitheater, we were ecstatic to know we were really going to see The Rolling Stones!

When the concert date had finally arrived, we were still too young to drive. So we took the CTA down to the Amphitheater, the same place that once was famous for livestock exhibitions and almost 4 years earlier had hosted one of the most tumultuous political conventions in American history. But we didn’t care about any of that, we weren’t there to buy pigs or protest the war, we were there to see the STONES!!! And nothing else mattered.

As the crowd pushed its way in, we felt like the very livestock that the building was designed for. Once seated, the opening act began. I wasn’t sure who it was, but they played a number of Stevie Wonder songs. We were sitting so far back that I couldn’t recognize the guy wearing sunglasses who played virtually every instrument on the stage. Then, it finally hit me (duh!) that it was Stevie Wonder, who (with his next album Talking Book) was on the verge of super-stardom himself. So, that was quite the unexpected treat.

Then, the moment I’d waited years for had finally arrived, and with Keith Richard’s trademark opening riff to “Brown Sugar,” we were underway. The band devoted about half the show to the new album Exile On Main St., and wrapped it up with classics like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction,” and of course “Street Fighting Man” which was actually banned from Chicago radio during the afore mentioned Democratic Convention of 1968 for fear it would incite violence from protesters.

As always, with artists that have extensive catalogs, there are always songs that you wish for, but don’t get to hear. But, despite Keith’s weak vocals on “Happy,” I thought the show was a great success and an exciting introduction to a lifetime of incredible concerts.

In 2012, The Rolling Stones embarked on their “50 and Counting” tour, a testament to their longevity and talent to continue ‘bringing it’ after 50 years together. The tour continues on in 2013.

– Submitted by Bill Spencer, Music Design