ROLLING STONES Sympathy for the devil 1969 Hyde park

Written by on July 5, 2018

Yesterday, we mentioned that it was Nick Scelsi’s birthday. Here is an article that he wrote for CRRK 3 years ago:

It was no mere coincidence that the Rolling Stones announced the departure of their founding member Brian Jones on the day following Blind Faith’s free concert for 150,000 fans in London’s Hyde Park. The Stones, who had not performed a full-length concert in pubic since April 1967, were itching to get back onstage, and they knew that this would be impossible as long as Brian remained in the band. Several days after Brian was fired, when the Stones held a press conference at Hyde Park’s bandstand to introduce Mick Taylor as their new guitarist, it came along with an announcement of their intention to play a free Hyde Park concert of their own.

Scheduled to take place just a few weeks later, on July 5, 1969, the outdoor festival would feature performances by Third Ear Band, Screw, King Crimson (who had not yet released an album but who were invited to play on the strength of word of mouth reports about their live performances), Alexis Korner’s New Church, Roy Harper, Battered Ornaments, Family, and The Rolling Stones. Rehearsals for the show took place in the basement recording studio beneath 3 Saville Row, where the Beatles had recorded their still-unreleased Let It Be album.

The Stones were in Olympic Studios on July 3, two days before the concert, recording a cover version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Don’t Know Why” for possible inclusion on the Let It Bleed album, when they were informed of Brian’s death. Though their initial thought was to postpone the concert, they ultimately decided the right thing to do (possibly for the dramatic effect they knew it would have) would be to go ahead with the show, and to do it as a tribute to Brian.

Taking the stage wearing what can only be described as a dress with a pair of slacks on underneath, Mick Jagger read two stanzas of Adonaïs, Shelley’s poem on the death of John Keats, as a tribute to Brian. As a further tribute, 2,500 cabbage white butterflies were due to be released, but many of these died in storage in the hot sun. The ones that did make it out of their boxes alive didn’t get very far. “It was a bit sad,” said Charlie Watts. “There were casualties.”

The Stones opened with Johnny Winter’s “I’m Yours & I’m Hers” and played a 14-song set heavy with newer material from their most recent album, Beggars Banquet. Most of the songs had never been played in public before. They finished with an epic 18-minute version of “Sympathy for the Devil,” on which they were joined by a group of African tribal drummers (a part of that performance is included below).

Some Fun Facts:

Volunteers who helped clean up the 5,000 tons of garbage after the show were each give a copy of the Stones brand new single, “Honkey Tonk Women.”

The PA system, supplied by Watkins Electric Music, was the largest ever assembled up to that point.

The Rolling Stones portion of the concert was filmed by Granada Television and broadcast in the UK in September 1969.

As the Stones made their entrance, stage manager Sam Cutler introduced them as “the greatest rock and roll band in the world,” the first time that phrase had ever been used.

w/ The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

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