Will My 20 Year Old Boys Ever Come Home Again 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 1960s as a big Rolling Stones fan. My godmother’s daughter (does that make her my godsister?) was the US president of the Rolling Stones fan club in 1966. I had all their records and was desperate to see them perform live.

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

We all got into my friend’s VW and headed out. It was a festival venue so we wanted to get there early enough to get decent seats. We arrived around 1:30pm and got perfect seats (for the baseball game – front row behind 3rd base) and since the stage was being set up at 2nd base, great seats for that night’s show.

So we had 5 hours to kill before Stevie Wonder entertained us as the opening act. The pungent smell of cigarettes hung in the air and cheap bottles of wine were passed around. The atmosphere was great and everything was going smoothly until we started hearing a loud disturbance behind us. It screamed and sang and it came from outside the main gate. Apparently, some kids tried to rush to man the entrance and crashed into the venue!

Well this was all mildly amusing until someone yelled “they’re shooting tear gas!” Which made us all laugh until the wind changed direction and started blowing gas into the stadium. We stopped laughing at that point and tried to hold our breath. This worked for a while until we actually had to breathe and then it was uncomfortable to say the least. Our eyes stung and we all suffered.

Eventually, the police got a tip and stopped with tear gas. The air cleared and the first act took the stage. Stevie Wonder was good. Almost nobody cared about him (which was a shame), but he did his thing for about half an hour and then got off the stage to the appreciation of the majority 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,” it was the same tour. Probably their best tour ever. They were supporting their new album ‘Exile on Main Street’. It’s got a lot of good songs and they’ve done all their hits so far (the same hits everyone wants to hear today). Mick noted the historic occasion (he studied 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 produced 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 they connect with the audience as if you were equals. No sign of “hey I’m a rock star, thanks for your bread man and we’ll play whatever we want or not play at all, whatever”. It’s amazing, but you really feel like they’re your friends from next door and they’re just hanging out with you for that 2 hours.

Well, they played for just over 2 hours and 3 encores and then it was time to stumble back to the car and try to find my way home again. All in all, the best experience a 20-year-old could have had without Robert Redford and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Oops, use your imagination.

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