WINTERLAND 1972Fans waiting outside the Downtown Center Box office on Mason Street on May 16, 1972 to buy tickets to the Rolling Stones concert
Art Frisch / Art Frisch / The ChronicleFans waiting outside to get into Winterland for the Rolling Stones concert on June 6, 1972.
Dave Randolph / Dave Randolph / The ChronicleTickets were $5.00. Winterland had no reserved seating, so if
patrons wanted to get a great spot near the front of the stage, they had to
get there early. Fans began lining up along the auditorium’s wall 48 hours
before the doors were scheduled to open. The first folks in line were Richard
Green, 21, and Mark Jeppeson, 19, of Graton in Sonoma County. Each had a
shaggy sheepskin blanket covering them for warmth. “We’ve also got pillows in
my car,” Green said, “along with 3 gallons of water, a bag of nuts, and 10
pounds of oranges."Stones Fans Thwarted by Ticketron Failure in San FranciscoDon't blame the StonesThe Rolling Stones performs at Winterland Arena on June 6, 1972 in San Francisco, California.
SAN FRANCISCO — It used to be when you wanted to go to a Rolling Stones concert you had to stand in line for hours to get tickets. Now, through the miracle of computerized ticket sales, you can wait in line for hours and not get tickets.
That’s what happened May 15th to thousands who crowded to 54 Ticketron outlets in Northern California to purchase seats at four Stones concerts at Winterland on June 6th and 8th.
“It was a madhouse,” said a middle-aged saleslady at Sears. “There were people sleeping outside the door waiting to get in. When the store opened at 9:30 they came through those doors like animals.”
Even after the tickets went on sale at 10 AM, the lines barely moved. Simultaneous ticket requests from Northern California outlets, plus outlets in the L.A. area and Chicago all ordering tickets at the same time, were too much for the one dinky central computer that serves all Ticketron outlets west of Chicago.
The computer jammed. It took each outlet 12 minutes to process one order. One computer in L.A. fizzled out completely.
There were 18,000 tickets available at Winterland. Had there been equal distribution of tickets at the outlets, as customers assumed (about 300 per outlet), with a maximum four tickets allowed to a person, only the first 75-100 people in lines of up to 700 would get theirs.
But some centers got less tickets out of the computer than others. It wasn’t luck, or foul play, as many disgruntled customers complained afterwards. It was just that non-computerized human factor.
Some Ticketron operators were simply more efficient than others. They ordered tickets at the maximum rate – nine requests per order – and kept ordering without waiting for specific requests. They knew whatever they got their hands on would be sold.
There were no reported incidents of violence at the ticket sales, except, perhaps in the emotions of those who were disappointed. At 3 o’clock when it was announced that tickets were sold out at the downtown San Francisco Ticketron Agency, one 19-year-old girl who’d waited eight hours in line said “people felt like just tearing the place down.”
Complaints about the system were forwarded to Barry Imhoff, head of FM Productions, which handled ticket operation for the tour. Victims of L.A.’s collapsed computer were somewhat appeased with first crack at a fourth L.A. concert added to the tour.
He received some angry letters from people who stood and slept in line only to have some bully cut in front of them.
With all its faults, Imhoff felt that Ticketron was the best system available. It spread out the numbers of empty-handed ticket-seekers over a large area. “If we had them line up at Winterland for tickets,” Imhoff said, “they’d level the place.
“You can’t satisfy everybody. We never get complaints about the system from the people who got tickets. It’s only the unlucky ones who complain.”Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in concert in the Bay Area, June 1972.
Dave RudolphThe Rolling Stones American Tour 1972The ’72 tour was known by other names—the Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour or the STP, Stones Touring Party. It was mythologized along the lines of Stanley Booth’s list of excesses, above. Personally I never saw anything like this. Stanley must have been exaggerating or he was a very innocent boy. It was the case nevertheless that by this time we couldn’t get a reservation in any hotel above a Holiday Inn. It was the beginning of the booking of whole hotel floors, with no one else allowed up, so that some of us—like me—could get privacy and security. It was the only way we could have a degree of certainty that when we decided to party, we could control the situation or at least get some warning if there was trouble.
- Keith Richards (Life: Keith Richards)
The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972, also known as the "Stones Touring Party", shortened to S.T.P., was a much-publicized and much-written-about concert tour of the United States and Canada in June and July 1972 by The Rolling Stones. Constituting the band's first performances in the United States following the Altamont Free Concert in December 1969, critic Dave Marsh would later write that the tour was "part of rock and roll legend" and one of the "benchmarks of an era."
The tour in part supported the group's Exile on Main St. album, which was released a few weeks earlier on 12 May. It was also part of a tour-America-every-three-years rotation that the group established in 1969 and maintained through 1981.
On the first show of the tour, 3 June in Vancouver, British Columbia, 31 policemen were treated for injuries when more than 2,000 fans attempted to crash the Pacific Coliseum.
In San Diego on 13 June, there were 60 arrests and 15 injured during disturbances. In Tucson, Arizona on 14 June, an attempt by 300 youths to storm the gates led to police using tear gas. While in Chicago for three appearances on 19 and 20 June, the group stayed at Hugh Hefner's original Playboy Mansion in the Gold Coast district. Eighty-one people were arrested at the two sellout Houston shows on 25 June, mostly for marijuana possession and other minor drug offences. There were 61 arrests in the large crowd at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on the Fourth of July.
On 13 July police had to block 2,000 ticket-less fans from trying to gain access to the show in Detroit. On 17 July at the Montreal Forum a bomb blew up in the Stones' equipment van, and replacement gear had to be flown in; then it was discovered that 3,000 forged tickets had been sold, causing a fan riot and a late start to the concert. The next day, 18 July, the Stones' entourage got into a fight with photographer Andy Dickerman in Rhode Island, and Jagger and Richards landed in jail, imperilling that night's show at the Boston Garden. Boston Mayor Kevin White, fearful of a riot if the show were cancelled, intervened to bail them out; the show went on, albeit with another late start. Dickerman would later file a £22,230 lawsuit against the band.
On 16 June, after the Denver shows, in a hotel suite, Stephen Stills and Keith Richards drew knives in an argument.
The tour ended with four shows over three consecutive nights at New York City's Madison Square Garden, the first night of which saw 10 arrests and two policemen injured, and the last leading to confrontations between the crowd outside Madison Square Garden and the police. The last show on 26 July, Jagger's 29th birthday, had balloons and confetti falling from Madison Square Garden's ceiling and Jagger blowing the candles off a huge cake. Pies were also wheeled in, leading to a pie fight between the Rolling Stones and the audience.
Following the final performance, a party was held in Jagger's honor by Ahmet Ertegun at the St. Regis New York. Guests included Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Andy Warhol, the Capote entourage, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, while the Count Basie Orchestra provided musical entertainment. At the event, Dylan characterized the tour as "encompassing" and "the beginning of cosmic consciousness."
Rock critic Robert Christgau reported that the mood of the shows was friendly, with Jagger "undercut[ting] his fabled demonism by playing the clown, the village idiot, the marionette."