It's Only Rock'n Roll
The Stones issued a statement late on Sunday that said four concerts in Britain, which had been scheduled for August, were called off and rescheduled for June 1999.
The statement blamed several things for the change, including a recuperating lead guitarist Keith Richards, who broke a rib last month; the resulting rescheduling problems; insurance claims, and "tax issues."
But The Times of London said in its early Monday editions that "tax issues" were paramount. If the band had gone ahead with the four British dates planned for this summer, they would have ended up with a 12 million sterling ($19.6 million) tax bill, the Times said.
"If we did the UK shows it would have meant the entire European tour ran at a loss and we just couldn't do that, it would have been foolish," the newspaper quoted legendary lead singer Mick Jagger as saying.
Jagger spoke to The Times from Munich, where the band was gearing up to start the "Bridges to Babylon European Tour."
Under the old tax law, British people who lived and worked abroad for more than a year were exempt from British taxes on their earnings, so long as they did not spend more than 62 days in this country.
But the Labour government scrapped that arrangement this year for everyone except some 10,000 seafarers.
It was not immediately clear how rescheduling the Stones' British concert dates would get around the new law, unless it had something to do with the number of days band members and their large travelling crew have already spent in Britain this year.
The Times said other British bands like Elton John and Oasis were planning protests over the new law.
This could prove embarrassing to a government that has cultivated a "Cool Britannia" image and has a relatively young prime minister (Tony Blair is younger than Jagger) who used to play in a rock band himself.
The four cancelled concerts had been scheduled for London's Wembley stadium on August 20 and 22, Edinburgh on August 24 and Sheffield on August 26th.
The new dates are Wembley on June 11 and June 12, 1999, Edinburgh on June 4, 1999 and Sheffield on June 6, 1999. "Ticket holders should retain their tickets as they will be honoured," the Stones' statement said.
"We send our apologies to all the fans," it quoted Jagger as saying. But the statement also said the band planned to add more cities in Britain to their tour next year, including indoor shows and club dates, and promised to announce them shortly.
The European tour will now kick off in Nuremberg on Saturday June 13th. Other rescheduled dates include Milan, on June 16; Munich, July 13; Barcelona, July 20; Gelsenkirchen, July 27, and Mannheim, Sept. 12, the Stones' statement said.
The Mirror tabloid newspaper's early Monday edition was headlined "Stones Axe Tour in Protest at Blair."
But Jagger told The Times that "I'm not attacking the Labour Government. They have every right to change the tax laws." Was this sympathy for the devil? A Rolling Stones spokesman could not be reached for comment. ($ - 0.611 British Pounds
For more news see IORR 33 mailed out in June, 1998!
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1998 -
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