The Rolling Stones played Raleigh for the first time on Nov. 10, 1965, at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum. As you’ll see from the following remembrances, opinions about the show ranged all over the map.
Local media, however, came away as underwhelmed as the papers had been over Beatlemania a year earlier. “Rolling Stones Roll on After Loud Show Here,” declared the headline of the next day’s News & Observer review, which found little good to say about the show:
“This Could Be The Last Time” the Rolling Stones come to Raleigh, but England’s second-class Beatles left town after headlining Wednesday’s performance at Reynolds Coliseum $12,500 richer.
“The five Stones ‘earned’ their money by wailing several of their popular songs, as well as some of the not-so-popular, to a screaming crowd of 5,000 high school and college students ...”
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Reviewer James W. Lewis was more impressed with the show’s opening acts, who he wrote “surpassed anything England’s native sons attempted.” Reached via email recently, Lewis said he couldn’t remember much about the Stones show five decades later.
“(I recall) very little except it was not a very flattering review,” said Lewis, now 71 years old and a stockbroker in Washington, D.C. “I was filling in for the entertainment editor, who did not consider the concert worth his/her time and attention.”
Similarly, N.C. State’s student paper deemed the opening acts to be superior to the headliners. Calling the Vibrations “the real entertainment of the evening,” the review closed on a dismissive note:
“The Rolling Stones appearance was the last and shortest of the evening. Well on their way toward ‘earning’ their predicted half million during their 45-day tour, the Stones intend to take it all back to England. Unlike the habits of the new-rich, the Stones are investing money so that ‘they can retire and never have to work another day after their popularity begins to wane.’”
That was written by Bill Rankin, then a freshman engineering student at N.C. State. Rankin works in real estate in Atlanta nowadays and admits to feeling a little sheepish about that review. He has since become enough of a Stones fan to have seen them multiple times, including their Atlanta appearance on June 9.
“They gave a much better concert than 50 years ago,” Rankin said with a laugh. “It went on for about two hours with an energy level that was every bit that of a 20-year-old. I don’t know, how shall we say, what stimulants they might have had assistance from, but they seemed to be in control of the moment. I don’t know how long they can keep this up, but they showed no sign of any elderly presence or lack of energy.”
It’s only rock ’n’ roll, indeed.
I wish I could recall exactly who went with me. I know it was some of my classmates from Millbrook High School, which was what is now Millbrook Elementary. We must have ponied up for the $4 seats because we were on the floor. Maybe we borrowed the money from our more affluent Broughton buddies! Gas to get there was 30 cents a gallon. I seem to remember a soft drink at 25 cents as opposed to the normal store price of a dime! Those greedy promoters!
– Marvin Waldo, 64
Raleigh (real estate)
Me and my best buddy Sonny Watkins came with tickets his big sister gave us since she and her boyfriend could not go. We were soul music lovers, but these guys were like the Beatles to us. I had just lost my driving license for 60 days from a ticket and old Sonny hauled me around for those two months; even on dates. Off to Raleigh we went. We were beside the stage corner and were amazed at how small those guys were. But boy could they play. Sonny and I were just 16 and thought we were hot stuff. I was glad for the free tickets as I made 90 cents an hour at the A&P store after school. Who would think I would make age 66 and the damn Stones would still be playing? Reckon I will miss this one, but 1965 is forever etched in my memory.
– Al Slaughter, 66
Oxford (semi-retired from banking/finance)
I remember it was loud, and sold-out. Our seats were on the floor and when the Stones came out, everybody in back ran to the front. It was just chaos, nobody sat the whole time, but it was great. The thing I remember most looking back was the ticket price. My daughter and her husband bought tickets to go this time, and I about choked at the price. We paid $4 to be on the floor close to the stage and probably struggled to get $4 together. My children cannot believe that I saw the Rolling Stones. But no, I don’t think I’m going this time. I’m just a little bit too old, so I’ll just look forward to hearing from everybody about how great it was.
– Joan Clark, 67
Garner (retired cardiology technologist)
I wasn’t at Reynolds, but I emceed the Stones’ first three tours starting in 1965 in Providence, R.I. Their fee the first year was $3,500 against 40 percent of the gate. The next year, it had risen to $10,000 against 50 percent. Then they came back to the tune of $20,000 against 60 percent of the gate. The station paid it. Wish I had a piece – they sold out each time.
I remember the second time walking into their dressing room and the only thing besides their chairs was a rickety table with half a bottle of Black Jack on it. I walked over to Charlie Watts and reintroduced myself. He was eating popcorn, and after licking off each finger, handed me a shake: “Oh yeah, how you been?” They were crude, but pretty nice guys.
– Pat Patterson, 79
(who can still be heard weekends on 850 AM, WKIX)
I went to the airport to bring them to WKIX and ended up with Brian Jones, Keith Richards and (Andrew Loog Oldham), the manager. They were in their early 20s and I wasn’t much older, so I was not awestruck. I can’t remember the order, but we ended up at my apartment off of Buck Jones Road. We were talking about old R&B records, which is what we were all into, and they wanted to see my collection. So they went through my 45s and ended up with a few. We also went to the station for a quick interview and to the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Hillsborough Street for a bucket of chicken, and I took them to Reynolds so I could introduce them onstage. There were so many shows I didn’t see back then, including them. I’d come out with the guys onstage and then run back to the station – which was on Highway 54 //so I could get in and out pretty quickly.
– Ed “Charlie Brown” Weiss, 73
Hillsborough (who can still be heard Sunday afternoons on 850 AM, WKIX)
I remember that afternoon listening to WKIX in Raleigh and hearing Keith Richards being interviewed before the concert, trying to explain what “Get Off My Cloud” meant: “Don’t bug me, man.”
– Steve Hemmerle, 64
Durham (Duke’s clinical trials billing office)
Local DJs on WKIX referred to them as the Rolling Uglies.
– Frank O’Neal, 68
Durham (retired educator)
I actually saw the Rolling Stones more than a year before they came to Raleigh, on their first, less-heralded U.S. tour. On June 17, 1964, with “Not Fade Away” as their first British hit record but limited American exposure, the band appeared at West View Park Danceland near Pittsburgh before a raptly attentive audience of a few hundred. A friend and I, students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University, deejayed dances at the school and were supplied promo copies of records by a local radio station. Among them were “Not Fade Away,” as well as 45s by Freddy and the Dreamers, Gerry and the Pacemakers and another unknown British band, the Beatles. We were intrigued, and excited when we heard that the Rolling Stones were coming to town. We were fortunate to hear the Stones play their blues-based early music and see Mick Jagger cavort onstage before the crowds, especially the teenaged girls, had discovered them. It was a great show, and a memorable experience.
– Phil Lando, 71
My dad bought six tickets and took me and four friends for my 15th birthday. My best friend and I made a cake in the shape of a guitar and they let us backstage to take it to the hospitality room, where we met Brian Jones. Of course, we rushed the stage screaming (or at least I did), and my Dad said he was not going to take me to any more concerts. I promptly wrote Ann Landers and she wrote back suggesting, “it would be more ladylike and proper to sit and just enjoy the group from your seat.”
– Deborah P. Miller, 65
Chapel Hill (program administrator, North Carolina Folklife Institute)
It was four days after my 13th birthday and I was hosted by a neighborhood friend who was 14 going on 15. Because my mother fancied this a “date,” she made me wear a matching skirt and sweater. This was close to humiliating, as everyone else was in jeans. Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells opened and I recall that my friend’s mother, who drove us from Chapel Hill to Raleigh, was actually able to get a ticket and go in. I believe I still have the program and ticket stub (my very generous friend sprung for the $4 seats as well as the program!).
– Juliann Tenney, 62
Chapel Hill (attorney)
I was in the ninth grade and mostly remember that it was the first concert I was ever allowed to go to, and I was in awe of just being out somewhere on my own. My (now) husband had a family friend who was a cop, and they (the Stones) had the police chauffeur them from RDU to Reynolds. This family friend asked the driver if he’d get autographs for my husband’s sister, and he got them all – Jagger, Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman – on a notepad like cops had, one per page. They’re all made out “To Judy,” but eventually my husband stole those autographs from his sister. She’s not as much of a fan as he is, so he wound up with them and we are not letting them go, since possession is nine-tenths of the law.
When we see them in July, it will be our ninth time overall and third at Carter-Finley. We’ve also seen them in Charlotte and at Duke. Ironically, 1989 at Carter-Finley was the first concert we ever took our kids to see. That same summer, the Grateful Dead also came and we took them to see that, too. My son’s still a Deadhead. He doesn’t think Garcia’s really dead.
– Rachel Watkins, 64
Raleigh (retired from the Bankers Association)
My sister and I attended and so did our parents, which we found out after the concert started. We were sitting upper level stage left, and when the lights came up we saw them sitting behind the stage. They were pretty cool, and it was a pretty good concert. We had just moved back from overseas, living in Beirut, and we were living in Harnett County. Raleigh was the most cosmopolitan place around here, but it was such a backwater to me because I’d been born in New York and grown up living in big cities. We used to say movies would show up on TV before coming to Raleigh. They didn’t even sell Levi’s here for the longest time. We finally found them in Fayetteville. The guy down there said, “Every time the soldiers get paid, I sell out.”
– Tom Jackson, 64
As a Cary High School student, I had a part-time job working concessions at Reynolds Coliseum, thus enabling me to see The Rolling Stones. Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles opened and were highly entertaining, but nothing compared to the Stones. I remember most the boundless energy of Mick Jagger, strutting about the stage, the tactiturn Keith Richards, cigarette dangling from his lips, effortlessly displaying his brilliance on guitar, and Ron Woods and Charlie Watts steady as always. It was definitely an evening to remember! Twenty-four years later, I took my son to his first Rolling Stones concert at Carter Finley Stadium in 1989.
– Dean Graybeal, 65
Raleigh (retired, commercial construction)
I was a young stud of about 14 and went with my sister and brother-in-law. He was a pilot just back from Vietnam. It was a weeknight, and first out of the box was the Embers with their red jackets. I joke with people about that now, “You won’t believe this but I saw the Stones and the Embers on the same show.” It was them and then the Rockin’ Ramrods from Boston, then Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and then the Stones. They still had Brian Jones and they’d just done “Get Off of My Cloud.” “Satisfaction’ had put them on the map, but that was their hit at that time. Of course I went right home and bought their album. I remember when it started because everybody stood up. I did, too. They went through two ovations and nobody sat down for the whole concert. The rest of it’s just a blur now. But it was a major thing for a kid, getting out of school early to go see the Stones. Probably did not get home before 1 a.m. that night.
– Leland Briley, 64
Selma (financial planner)
I had just turned 10, my sister was fixing to be 12 and we paid $2.50 for tickets. I remember seeing them on TV and my mama asked if I wanted to go see ’em here. I said sure, not knowing how it worked, but a few months later there we were. At the time, them and the Beatles were fighting to see who’d be the world’s greatest band and I think the Rolling Stones might have done that. The stage looked like a boxing ring, out in the middle of the floor with ropes around it, and they all had on black suits. They played “Satisfaction,” “Get Off of My Cloud,” “The Last Time,” “Heart of Stone” – everything, it was a magnificent concert and a big thrill for a 10-year-old kid. I didn’t get to go down to the floor, that took $4 or $5. I wonder if they would’ve given a 10-year-old kid an autograph. It was nice to see somebody that big so cheap, the best show ever and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would go again, but I can’t afford $300 or $400 a ticket.
– Paul Ratliff, 59
Louisberg (delivery man)
I took my girlfriend at the time and we ended up getting married in 1967, and we are still married and listening to the World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band. We named our house in Surf City “emOceanal Rescue.” Going to try and get tickets for the July concert in Raleigh but they have about priced us out of the market. I was a big fan of the British Invasion after being forced to listen to Motown for years and the Stones were just bad enough to suit my musical interest.
– Dennis Bottoms, 67
Surf City (retired from BB&T)
My wife and I were there. I was a freshman at NCSU and she was at St. Mary’s, but we didn’t know each other at the time! We discovered we were both there when we talked quite a while ago about that concert. She’s irked to this day that she had to leave before it was over, because St. Mary’s scared students about missing curfew. She now says she wishes she had stayed. There was also a Dave Clark Five concert at Reynolds that fall. Not quite the Stones, but it was good just the same.
– Bill Hale, 68
Raleigh (lawyer with N.C. Department of Insurance)
In the fall of 1965, I was a serious liberal arts freshman dating an equally serious engineering freshman. As a dating splurge, he bought tickets to the Rolling Stones concert. We looked as if we were going to the N.C. Symphony, he in a dress shirt and tie and I in a red tweed wool dress. We (and most of the audience) were so impressed with the energy, volume and antics of the Rolling Stones. We surely had never seen such here.
However, we kept our dressed-up, serious demeanor. No jumping around, no dancing in the aisles, no screaming. And my children still cannot believe my version of that concert. But my husband (who is not the college date) and I are looking forward to our (more active) participation on July 1.
– Christina Terrell, 68
Raleigh (farm manager, Preston-Block Farms)
IT’S ONLY ROCK & ROLL
Front row balcony on the south side of the coliseum. When Jagger was twirling his brown corduroy jacket, I could have reached out over the rail and taken it from him. They taught us better at N.C. State. One of many great concerts at State and you did not have to be a drug dealer to afford tickets.
– Hank Brandenberg, 72
Bayville, New Jersey (attorney)
The only thing I remember is it was LOUD! I preferred the Beatles, so I don’t remember being impressed.
– Jack Holmes, 67
Rocky Mount (retired pastor)
I was in high school in Oxford and came over to see them with my boyfriend, my younger brother and two of his friends. I had just seen the Stones at the London Palladium while in summer school in Reading, England. That performance was stunning – not so much the Stones as the audience. We American teenagers were fascinated with the fans in the audience at the relatively small venue. The girls were throwing underwear on the stage, crying and screaming hysterically. Some of us joined in the general melee, but mostly we just watched. At the end of the concert, a young girl fainted, blocking several of our group from exiting until she was revived.
After the excitement in London, I was a little underwhelmed by the performance at N.C. State. The music was great and the fans enthusiastic, but nothing compared to the scene at the Palladium. Thinking back, the most remarkable thing was how easy and cheap it was to get tickets. I don’t remember any big traffic or parking problems, either. They had pretty much the same playlist in both London and Raleigh.
– Lily Keyes, “over 60”
I was there with nine girlfriends, and it was one of our group’s birthday gift from her parents. They took all of us! We had great seats in Section 12 on the upper side. My big memory was chasing Mick Jagger down a hall in the bowels of the building and into the men’s room. Being 15-year-old Southern girls, we didn’t go in after him! However, I wrote an essay on the evening for English class entitled “Anatomy of a Rock Concert” and got an A+.
– Claire Slaughter, 64
Raleigh (works in real estate)
I had a date (Lane Crawford) but was too young to drive so we double-dated with someone who could. The place was packed – our seats were in the second row of the left balcony overlooking the stage, which was surrounded by off-duty Raleigh cops and wooden traffic barriers. I thought it was overkill – come on, this was Raleigh, not New York. Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles were the intro act, and they were good. The crowd really enjoyed them. But when the Stones took the stage, all hell broke loose. They opened with Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” and when Mick Jagger sang, “I need you, you, you…,” pointing to various areas of fans, the crowd went wild, rushing the stage. At one point, Mick took his coat off and threw it in one circular motion to the stage (and back to Charlie Watts’ bass drum), but for a moment, it looked as if the coat was thrown out into the crowd – a sea of fans lunged upward toward what would have been its presumed destination. It was a stunning experience. I walked out of Reynolds that night convinced that rock-and-roll was here to stay.
The 1965 concert is still in my top-five of all the concerts I’ve seen, but the Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels is the very best I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen the Rolling Stones in 1965 and also 1975 (Greensboro Coliseum), 1989 and 1994 (Carter-Finley Stadium), 1997 (Charlotte’s Ericsson Stadium), 1999 (D.C.’s MCI Center and Charlotte Coliseum) and 2005 (Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium). And I have a ticket for July 1 at Carter-Finley. This will mean that I’ve seen them in every decade from the start.
– Donald McIver Stanford, Jr., 63
Chapel Hill (UNC professor of law)
Four of us came over from Roxboro and we all thought we were pretty hot stuff. Had hair all the way down to the top of our ears. I had thought it was four guys, but I’ve been reminded that we took two gals. My friend also remembered that at one point, Mick Jagger turned around and took off his jacket, exposing his upper torso. In that day, man, that was scandalous! Reynolds has these risers alongside the court where the students would sit and we were there, about 10 o’clock from the stage maybe 30 feet away – for $3.I remember seeing two guys who looked like they were probably N.C. State students coming in with ponytails. I’d never seen that before.
– Reid Overcash, 66
Raleigh (marketing consultant)
My wife and I were engaged at the time. I surprised her, bought tickets, we looked forward to it and went on over. And we were in there maybe 30 or 40 minutes until – remember, now, this was 1965 – Mick Jagger started taking his shirt and some clothes off. And Sharon looked at me and said, “Time for us to go!” That was pretty risqué for that time, so we did not stay for the whole show. But what I heard was all right, up until he started stripping onstage.
– Mike Brooks, 68
Durham (retired from commercial construction)
I was in 10th grade at Broughton and had just gotten my driver’s license, but my parents would not allow me to drive myself to some Rolling Stones show. So my father dropped us off at Reynolds. They just had amps and speakers piled up on each side of the stage. It was fairly crowded, everybody standing up, and kids wanted to dance but not knowing how, to “Satisfaction.” Back then you’d dance to beach music, Chubby Checker doing “The Twist,” but nobody knew how to dance to this Rolling Stones stuff. If you’d seen the crowd, it would have looked very conservative compared to now. Later in the ’60s came bell-bottom jeans and all that. But in 1965, it was a lot of loafers with the penny stuck in. There was no drinking going on because you couldn’t. People milled around, listening, maybe drinking Pepsi. I can’t remember having any extra money to do that myself. There was not a lot to do here back then, you couldn’t stay out late and everything was closed on Sundays. So something like the Stones coming here was a big, big deal. I was probably home by 10 o’clock.
– Joe Sandling, 65
Raleigh was a very conservative place back then, but we loved R&B and I don’t mean beach. Then the Stones came along, white British guys playing the stuff we liked, and we were knocked out. I heard they were coming, saved my money and bought tickets – $4 for front-row. We went to the airport. My friend’s dad worked there and we actually got permission to go out where the plane would land. So we’re sitting there and this Buick Riviera pulls up behind us. Charlie Brown the deejay gets out and so does Keith. I was noticing things like, “Wow, look how long his hair is!” And so old, almost 22. But they were all very nice.
We were talking about guitars and at that time, they’d stopped making Gibson Les Pauls. I told them there was one at Poole’s Music on Salisbury, where I worked part-time. “In this town? Where are we? Raleigh?” Aldrew Loog Oldham gets off the plane and Keith tells him, “This guy says there’s a Gibson Les Paul here” and pulls out $300. I was floored at how much money that was. I heard later they’d gone to Poole’s, but the guitar had been sold the day before.
“At the show, they played about 35 minutes. There was one point with a break where Mick sang, “Have mercy.” And Keith looked down at us and said, “Hey, how ya doin’?” right before he started playing again.
Life’s been downhill ever since.
– Larry Butterton, 66
Apex (singer in Peak City Blues Project)
/I was a sophomore at Carolina and hitchhiked over on Highway 54 because there was no I-40 back then. The couple that picked me up were these old Chapel Hill hippies driving a four-door black Studebaker and I swear to God, they BOTH looked just like Bill Wyman. I think they were stoned completely because neither said a thing, and this was back before the pot years of the ’70s. Anyway, the show was just unbelievable. I remember them starting out with some of their big ones, like “Last Time” and “Satisfaction,” and I think they did “Get Off of My Cloud” – which is about my favorite song.
Nah, I’m not going this time. I’d rather remember the way they were. I guess they’ll still be performing when they’re in wheelchairs. I do wish Charlie Watts would get a damn shirt on, the T-shirt’s getting tacky. But I guess when you’re the drummer of the Rolling Stones, you can do whatever the hell you want to.
– Eugene Howard, 68
Raleigh (retired sales rep)
My daddy said I could go if I spent my own money. So I saved two weeks of lunch money, which was $2 a week in those days. I paid $2.50 for the show, bought a Pepsi and still had pocket change left over. One thing that happened and really stuck in my mind was how polite Mick Jagger was. People were throwing things at the stage, and a gold-colored metal lipstick case hit him right in the top lip. Busted it open, it really did hit him hard enough to bloody his lip. But he wiped it off, put the case in his pocket, said “Thank you” and never missed a beat, just kept right on going. It was a great concert, just wonderful.
The Stones have been my favorite group since I’ve been 11 years old. I’m the person in town who had the M JAGGER license plate with the tiny lips and tongue. We’re going again and let me tell you, we spent a whole lot more than $2.50 this time – $250 each! I even delayed my knee-replacement surgery to see them. The doctor said, “You have to have this done” and I told him, “Not before I see Mick Jagger again!”
– Suzann May, 62
Wendell (retired deputy court clerk)
I was a freshman at Carolina in the fall of ’65 when we decided to drive to Raleigh on Highway 54 (no I-40 then) to see Mick and the boys. They only had a couple of hits then. Good concert at Reynolds, but we expected the Rolling Stones to be a flash in the pan. Certainly wouldn’t endure like the Beatles.
– Larry Stogner, 68
Durham (retired news anchor)
It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen, the only time I got to see Brian Jones. I remember my mom had to take me and a group of my friends because I hadn’t gotten my license yet. But it was all the old tunes they used to play, and everybody was so excited afterward, running and jumping around. The show was really high-energy and about the music, so great, not the elaborate smoke and lights flashing you see now. It was just the band up there with a small stack of amps, more music than flash.
– Greg Mims, 64
Greensboro (software engineer)
I was at Chapel Hill at that time and there was not a whole lot of publicity; they were just breaking out. The amazing thing was they played on this little bitty stage that looked like a boxing ring with ropes out in the middle of the floor where they played basketball. A crowd was there but it wasn’t full. No security or anything, you could just walk out there not too far from them. A friend and I went and it was a great show, but small-time. They played their standard popular stuff – “The Last Time,” “It’s All Over Now” – and a bunch of the old blues stuff they’d started out with, covering Chuck Berry, Lightnin’ Hopkins, people like that.
I saw them twice in 1989 on the “Steel Wheels” tour. Also in Charlotte, Clemson, Carter-Finley in 1994. And I’m coming back for this show, which will be my swan song. It will be the last time, I’ll put it that way. Not theirs, but mine.
– Ben Williamson, 72
We had lived in Raleigh and moved to New Jersey and California before coming back. I was 15 and grew up loving the South. And at the very end, they played “Dixie,” I think just on guitars, and the whole place just went wild. People were screaming and yelling and hootin’ and hollerin’, just incredible. I really don’t think there was any ugliness to that song, people were just thrilled because it represented the South.
It was in the old Reynolds and we were sitting on these old wooden folding chairs, and everybody was standing up at the end. We were so short, we had to stand on the chairs to see anything. This boy next to me put his hand out to help me up and told me not to stand on the back or it would fold up. “Well, some men really are gentlemen,” I remember thinking. Funny the things you remember. We’d seen the Beatles the year before in California at the Cow Palace, and that crowd was mostly girls. At Reynolds for the Stones, it was mostly boys.
My dad was an entomology professor at State and we’d gone with him to his office and walked over to Reynolds. We had to walk back to his office to go home, through the tunnel. Everybody was still so excited from the show, it was like electricity you could feel through there. I’m sure my sister and I yacked all the way to dad’s office and then all the way home.
– Janette Brown, 65
Raleigh (retired librarian)
THE OPENING ACTS
Back in those days, Joe Murnick used to promote things in Raleigh, wrestling and concerts, and he put us on as opening act for Beach Boys, Dave Clark Five – and the Rolling Stones. I think that had a lot to do with how popular we still are. To this day, it means something to people, that we opened for the Rolling Stones. I had a guy come up to me recently and say, “Bobby, I’ve completed the cycle. I saw you guys open for the Stones in Reynolds, and I just bought tickets to see them at Carter-Finley. I just wish y’all were gonna be there this time, too.”
Still, I wasn’t too impressed with them. They started out in the shadow of the Beatles, who everyone thought were great guys, and these guys were trying to portray another image. Mr. Murnick and I were in the dressing room, and I remember seeing Mick Jagger coming into the facility and nobody even noticed him. So he comes back and Mr. Mernick says, “Mick, this is Bobby Tomlinson, his group is opening for you.” I stuck my hand out, he looked at my hand, looked at me, turned and walked away. Mr. Mernick shook his head and said, “I can’t believe I’m paying this guy 12 grand!”
Who was I, just some guy in a little group opening for him. They were already famous, though not like now. It probably bothered me for 30 minutes, but I got paid, too. Probably $150. And the guy who told me that story about completing the cycle said we got three standing ovations, which I don’t remember, but let’s go with that. All these years later, I’m still in Raleigh driving the band’s bus and they’ll probably fly in on a Leerjet. And they still have that bad-boy image.
– Bobby Tomlinson, 74
Raleigh (still drumming for the Embers)
We were opening the show and they were very unfriendly, did not want to talk or even meet because they were big-time and we were just local. Well, as it turned out, we turned the crowd on. Got three standing ovations and by the time we finished, all the Rolling Stones were standing backstage watching. THEN they wanted to meet us, after we stole the show.
So yeah, none of them were very friendly until we outperformed them. We really did, we were playing the music the crowd wanted to hear and that’s when they wanted to shake hands. We watched them but I really don’t remember it because I was never a Rolling Stones fan. They were that old British rock-and-roll while I was into R&B. But no big deal, they’ve made millions and millions of dollars since then.
I’m 73 but I feel like I’m 18. I walk 30 miles a week, which I’ve done for many years, and I thank the good Lord my health has held up. My voice, too. Call me and I’ll come sing for you sometime, solo or with my band. Keyboard player I’ve got now was in the Embers, too, when we opened for the Stones.
– Jackie Gore, 73
Unfortunately I didn’t move to Raleigh until the fall of 1966, so I missed the Raleigh show. BUT I was at the Rolling Stones concert at the Charlotte Coliseum only five nights after they played Reynolds. A little known piece of trivia regarding that tour was that Patti LaBelle’s piano player, the young Reginald Dwight, later reinvented himself as Elton John. The Stones’ first song was “Satisfaction” and Keith Richards must have had his amp turned up to 11 because his first first guitar riff just about blew the roof off the coliseum! Is was one amazing evening!
– Doug Parsons, 66
Holly Springs (semi-retired, in real estate)
My sister took me, which was great because I was only 11. At that time, the Stones only had a couple of songs that were really popular – “Satisfaction,” “Get Off of My Cloud” – and nobody knew the phenomenon they would become. I didn’t either because the main reason I went wasn’t to see the Stones, but the Embers. My uncle, Frank Reich, played saxophone with them at that time. The Embers were great. At that point, they were more a cover band than a beach band. They had some tendencies toward beach music, but they also covered the Beatles and other pop songs of the day. They became a little beachier later in the ’60s.
Back then, a lot of bands wore outfits like the Beatles and Dave Clark Five or Paul Revere and the Raiders. But the Stones showed up wearing basically T-shirts and jeans, and my uncle asked when they were putting their outfits on. “This is it,” they said, which I thought was a neat little peek into the culture of the time. The Stones were a little different in that they did not do that. I also remember that the lighting was a little off and Bill Wyman was in the dark, which seemed kind of mysterious. And of course, Brian Jones was there; how many people can say they saw him play?
– Charlie Stallings, 61
Richmond, Va. (banker)
I wasn’t there. I was in my dorm room at UNC. My roommate went. I told him I had to study. It was Modern Civilization – “modern civ,” we called it. I remember nothing about what I studied that night. But I remember when everyone else left for the concert, and I regret not going to see the Stones. I was also in New York City the night before the Beatles played at Shea Stadium in 1966. I decided I needed to start the drive back to Raleigh instead of taking an offered ticket.
– Iva Anderson
Raleigh (retired from IBM)
I moved to Raleigh in September 1965 to attend school. I heard the Rolling Stones from the front of Reynolds Coliseum. I don’t know why my date and I did not have tickets – maybe he couldn’t afford the steep prices! We were not the only couple standing on the outside looking in and no NCSU “officials” made us leave. It was a fun night, the music was great! I never liked Mick so I was not bothered that I didn’t see him strut!
– Dianne Grace, 67
My freshman year at NC State, it’s late in the afternoon as I’m charging from Lee dorm to my chemistry test across campus. I pass by Reynolds Coliseum and I see activity as someone was preparing for the Stones concert that night. It was an inviting opportunity to go see the concert that night but, alas, I had a chemistry test to take. “Who gives a chemistry test a few days before Thanksgiving while most of the campus was abandoned?” was my dreary thought as I dutifully marched toward my appointed task!!
Two hours or so later it was getting dark as I headed back toward Lee. I could hear the music rocking from the coliseum but I wondered how many students would attend since I had seen very few in the last 24 hours. I might as well take a bus home as I had not seen my family since fall classes had started. So my first chance to hear the Rolling Stones was a big goose egg!
– Robert Kelley, 67
I lived in Wilson and was 15 years old. My good friend was a Stones fan (everyone else was a Beatles fan and I didn’t much care for either) and was going. We hardly knew who these guys were except for Mick, who was locally dubbed “so ugly he’s cute.” My friend asked me to go with her and I had the money saved from my 50 cents a week allowance to afford it. My mom, a school teacher, said no because the concert was on a school night. I pleaded about the importance of this band, but she had her rules. As my friends left to see this band from England, I stayed at home in my room listening to them on the radio.
I heard from my friends the concert was good, bit remember the Stones weren’t “sold over” to U.S. teens in 1965. They were just another band from England, and going was more of a novelty at that time – in Eastern North Carolina, at least.
– Diane Tait, 65
Raleigh (retired social worker)
What I remember is about two hours of warmup bands and then seeing this blur come onto the stage and everybody started jumping up and down, standing on chairs, screaming – and they never stopped until they left the stage. I couldn’t really see or hear anything because I’m very short. I went with my brother and he tried to get me up onto his shoulder. But by the time we finally managed that, they’d left the stage. I think they only played about five songs, it seemed like. So I don’t really feel like I went to a Stones concert. But considering the difference in cost between now and 1965, I think I got what I paid for.
– Jenny Walker, 65
Chapel Hill (medical writer at Duke)
I was at Chapel Hill, got a ticket, went alone. And I’ll tell you, some of the opening acts were better entertainers than the Stones and everybody talked about that fact afterward. The very first group was a black group with male dancers, the Vibrations, and it was like the old dance show with music. They were amazing and we went wild. The Stones had not really arrived the way they would in 1972, when they’d be doing an entirely different thing. They came out and they were good, they were interesting, but not the hard rock band they came to be a few years later. In 1972, the “Sticky Fingers” show played Greensboro and my wife Janet was working in the N&O photography department. She had a press pass and we were within four feet of Jagger doing his moonwalk during “Brown Sugar.” That’s the most energy I’ve ever felt and I’ve seen them several times since, but that was the best. In 1965, they were almost folky compared to that. Mick was just another performer and Brian Jones was still the leader of the group at that point. By 1972, it was all about Mick and Keith. But here’s what I remember most about 1965. I was dating a girl at Peace College, who was also into the Stones. But she could not go with me because she was required to go to a concert with Liberace in their classical series – that same night! So I had to go by myself, and she was PISSED.
– Robert Howard Sr., 70
Another year,another memory
In 2010, Keith Richards opened his memoir “Life” by describing a scene in Fordyce, Ark., where he and Ron Wood were arrested in 1975 while passing through town. As it happened, N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson and his future wife, Susan Wynne, were there and bore witness to the scene:
Susan Woodson: We were home from college, Fourth of July weekend 1975, when the police came to talk to my dad, Frank Wynne, who was a prosecuting attorney. He asked us, “Do you know who the Rolling Stones are? They’ve been arrested and they’re down at city hall.” A restaurant where they ate had called the police to say they had some suspicious characters in there, so the cops stopped them and claimed they were driving recklessly. They claim they found a knife, and the car was supposedly loaded with drugs. The best line of the whole thing was not even in Keith Richards’ book. Keith supposedly asked, “Officer, do you know who I am? I’m a member of the Rolling Stones.” And the officer said, “I don’t care who you are, we’re gonna roll your ass on down to city hall.” So a huge crowd had gathered. My uncle was the judge, too.
Randy Woodson: They were trying to figure out what to do with these famous guys. All we could do was stand behind a barricade and watch. I do remember seeing Ron Wood riding a tricycle inside city hall, waving to the crowd.
SW: At first my dad said he’d let his assistant handle it, but that night they were calling him: “This is turning into a fiasco and we need you downtown.” My dad knew the Rolling Stones’ lawyer from law school, and they helped them not get sent up the river.
RW: The car was a brand-new Chevy Impala, and Keith Richards wrote that he never saw it again and had no idea what happened to it. But the car was seen in Fordyce after they left town. It was confiscated and became city property. The lore is that the chief of police would drive it.