THE ROLLING STONES’ 1972 AMERICAN TOUR | STP– STONES TOURING PARTY

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“Some of my most outrageous nights– I can only believe actually happened because of corroborating evidence.  No wonder I’m famous for partying!  The ultimate party– if it’s any good– you can’t remember it.” 

–Keith Richards 

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Keith Richards & Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones on stage, 1972 –Image by © Ethan Russell

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The Rolling Stones embarked on their 1972 American tour to support the release of Exile on Main Street– which in and of itself was a push into new territory for the band, both musically and commercially. What followed rewrote the game for The Stones and the music industry, and basically set the stage for a decade of big, balls-out tours that went from being simple promotional vehicles the pop culture events. Nothing like this had been done in Rock ‘n’ Roll prior and all subsequent tours would follow the ’72 tour blueprint for scale, attempted musicality, logistics, legal entanglements, drugs, women, hilarity, hangers-on, and general debauchery.

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Mick Jagger & Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones on the  STP tour, 1972 –Image by © Ethan Russell

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THE BROODING BAVARIAN BOMBSHELL | ’60s & ’70s SEX ICON– USCHI OBERMAIER

Keith Richards with German model/actress Uschi Obermaier during the Rolling Stones’ 1975 Tour of the Americas. –Photo by Christopher Simon Sykes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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The sexy German model was with the Rolling Stones on their ’75 tour, and bedded both Mick & Keef. Uschi later rated the boys, saying, “Mick is the most charming man in the world, but Keith is the better lover. He just knows the anatomy of women…”

When Anita got word of Keef’s tryst with Uschi, she furiously charged at him, and grabbed him by the hair and screamed, “You f*cking messer, You’ve been messing with this bird!”

Uschi makes it clear that she and Keith loved each other– and that while Anita often lamented over Keef’s lacking libido, Uschi, by her account, had no problem keeping her man in bed for days at a time. “With me, there was never a problem.”

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December 18th, 1968– The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with Anita Pallenberg in a departure lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport. –Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

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1969 DESERT TRIPPIN’ | GRAM PARSONS, ANITA PALLENBERG & KEITH RICHARDS

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Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards and Gram Parsons at Joshua Tree © MICHAEL COOPER

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Gram Parsons and Keith Richards first met back in 1968.  Gram was with the Byrds; touring Europe to promote their landmark Sweetheart of the Rodeo record.  When Gram told Keith the band was headed to South Africa, Keith was like– “Man, we don’t go there.” The sanctions and the embargo were on. So Gram quit the Byrds, right there and then. Gram, with nowhere to stay, crashed with Keith in London and fed his friend a steady diet of classic Country music– which would seep its way into the Stones’ sound soon enough.

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As a songwriter, Gram worked very much like I do, which is knock out a couple of chords, start to spiel and see how far it can go. Rather than sitting around with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to make things fit neatly together, if you just get on the microphone, things come to you. Lines come to you that you wouldn’t dream of, because they have to come to you in a split second. Gram liked to do that. But he would also work very hard — harder than I ever did — on honing it down.  It’s difficult for me to pick one of his songs as a favorite. ‘Sin City’, on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ first album, is great. I love ‘I Can’t Dance’, on GP. But you’ll never get a full portrait of him from one or two songs.

–Keith Richards


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Keith Richards at Joshua Tree © MICHAEL COOPER

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In 1969, Keith Richards, Gram Parsons, and Anita Pallenberg took a trip (quite literally, I’m sure) to the Joshua Tree  National Park.  (The amazing photos of that epic trip were taken by Michael Cooper.) Joshua Tree was a place Gram Parsons was quite fond of.  He’d spend days there on LSD getting lost, chasing UFOs, whatever. Tragically it was there that it all ended for Gram.

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The drugs and drinking — he was no better or worse than the rest of us. He just made that one fatal mistake — taking that one hit after he cleaned up, still thinking he could take the same amount. And it was too f*cking much. But he didn’t get into dope because of us. He knew his stuff before he met us.  I think he was just getting into his stride when he died (In ‘73 Gram Parsons fatally overdosed from a lethal combo of morphine and alcohol). His actual output — the number of records he made and sold — was pretty minimal. But his effect on country music is enormous. This is why we’re talking about him now. But we can’t know what his full impact could have been.

–Keith Richards


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Anita Pallenberg at Joshua Tree © MICHAEL COOPER

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MARIANNE FAITHFULL | SISTER MORPHINE

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Marianne Faithfull filming La Motocyclette (Girl on a Motorcycle), 1967

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Marianne Faithfull– of noble roots in masochistic boots, sang folk songs, took the Stones on, rocked the London scene with Anita Pallenberg Boho Queen… and she was just getting warmed up. Encore, Encore!

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Marrianne Faithfull– Italy, 1967  (left) Filming La Motocyclette (Girl on a Motorcycle), 1967 (right)

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Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull, Girl on a Motorcycle — Image by © Cat’s Collection

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KEITH RICHARDS & GRAM PARSONS 1971 | SUMMER IN EXILE @ VILLA NELLCOTE

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In the summer of ’71, The Rolling Stones, seeking shelter from their UK tax woes, exiled to the South of France.  Keith Richards set up house with Anita Pallenberg and their son Marlon in Villa Nellcôte– a 16 room waterfront mansion that once served as Gestapo headquarters for the Nazis during WWII.  The infamy continued with it now best remembered among rock fans as the grand flop-house where Exile On Main Street was recorded.

French photographer Dominique Tarle chronicled perhaps the most notorious house party ever, and had full access to goings-on over a period of six crazy months.  He later recounted to the New York Times– ”They built a studio in the basement of Keith’s house because the band knew it would be easiest for Keith,” says Dominique Tarlé, who had an all-access pass inside the villa for six months. “Engineers and technicians slept over, illegal power lines from the French railway system juiced their instruments, and when the temperature hit 100, they rehearsed with their pants off.  A carnival of characters paraded through– Terry Southern, Gram Parsons, John Lennon, even a tribal band from Bengal… dope dealers from Marseille; petty thieves, who stole most of the drugs and half the furniture; and hangers-on, all of them there to witness what was happening.”

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Keith Richards & Gram Parsons

Keith Richards & Gram Parsons

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