A great friend has gifted me with two tickets to the Rolling Stones concert in Raleigh on July 1, so here is my one and only Rolling Stones story.
I had a good Daddy. He indulged things like an interest in the guitar during the Peter, Paul & Mary years, and in electrifying it once the Beatles hit it big. We got both in a pawn shop in downtown Raleigh, which was the only place anyone knew to buy guitars in the mid-1960s.
Now he didn’t have to put up much with long hair, as I was curly in that department and had a big head, the Jenkins Head relatives called it, and so when the hair started to grow I looked like a mid-season cantaloupe under a shag carpet.
When I grew a beard in college, he told my mother he’d seen worse and not to worry about it, and he didn’t say a word when I had a brief bongo and poncho period at UNC-Chapel Hill.
But with wisdom of hindsight, almost 63 years worth, I do believe his greatness in the fatherhood department may have been best realized in 1965, November I believe it was, at Raleigh’s Reynolds Coliseum over at N.C. State.
I’d liked the Beatles, but they were never going to come to Raleigh. A relatively new English band, however, was making a bit of a splash. Long-haired like the Beatles, more edgy (although we didn’t use that word then), more rebellious looking than John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The Rolling Stones had been announced for Reynolds Coliseum. My father pulled a couple of strings and landed some tickets, pretty good seats, too. I was 13, and if I could have found a date who was 17, I’d have had a ride and a companion. Of course, yes, the chances of that were akin to my getting a call from Marilyn Monroe wanting me to take her to the Copa and spend the weekend at the Plaza.
So Daddy said he’d take me.
The opening act was, as I recall, a women’s group with provocative costumes on. I know because if we kids would try to stand up to see them, all the dads would protectively hold us in our seats. “You’re not missing anything, son,” my father said several times as he held me in place.
Then came the Stones, who played about 12 songs, which had my father wondering what all the fuss was about.
Fast forward about 20 years. This is a true story.
My father was working with Bill Friday, president of the University of North Carolina system, and had to go to Charlotte to the UNC branch there. When he got home, he said, “I’ll tell you a little story later, kinda funny.”
So that night I came over and asked him about Charlotte.
“Well,” he said, “you know I get up early and I went down to the hotel restaurant , and I’m sitting there reading the paper. Then this group of pretty loud guys comes in. They’re laughing and kidding around and they had some younger women with them.
“They’re English, I can tell, and of course they were dressed in all this crazy stuff.
“So I’m by myself, you know, just reading, and I’m the only other one in there. After a few minutes, one of these guys comes over, introduces himself, and asks if he can sit down. He says, ‘Sir, I’m terribly sorry we’re making so much noise. But you see, we’re musicians, and we haven’t even been to bed yet.’
“I tell him it’s no big deal, but then he asked me what I did and we had a nice conversation, and he told me what he was reading. And then he said, ‘Sir, I insist on buying your breakfast.’ I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he did.”
At this point, he’s got me.
“Ok, Daddy,” I said, “do you know who these guys were?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I sort of recognized them because you and I went to see them a long time ago. It was the Rolling Stones.”
Now our story does not end here, quite. I asked him, “Well, do you remember who it was who came over to chat?”
He smiled. “I didn’t know him at first, but he introduced himself,” he said. “It was that guy ... what’s the name? Jagger.”
“So Mick Jagger bought your breakfast?” I said. “Yep,” he said. “Pretty nice guy, too.”
The story’s older, but still a crowd pleaser. Rather like the Stones themselves.
And Mick, when you’re in town, I’ll be happy to return the favor of long ago and take you to the Players Retreat for brunch. I recommend the shrimp with extra grits. But you’ll have to keep it down. Older crowd, you know.
Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org