Roman Antiquities 5 – Me on the 1966
Rolling Stones Tour
Mark Roman tells of travelling on the 1966 Rolling Stones tour, to report back to Radio London
The autographs on this Stones 66 Programme were obtained during the concert at the Albert Hall in London, ironically one of those present in the bar with me was the actor Tony Booth, best known for playing Alf Garnett's 'randy scouse git' son-in-law in 'Till Death us do Part'. Later, Booth, father of Cherie Blair, was to become the father-in-law of Prime Minister Tony Blair. In those days who could guess what the future held?
The show was hosted by Long John Baldry who, in the early days of Rock & Roll encouraged many aspiring stars such as Elton John and of course the Stones themselves, so he was a most suitable compere.
Let's not forget Peter Jay. At the time he and his New Jaywalkers were big on the UK music scene, as were the Yardbirds. Who would have known that in that group were two future music legends, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page?
The first day revealed just how tough was Ike Turner. The coach was scheduled to leave at 0900, but by that time one of Ike's band had not arrived. Nevertheless, Ike insisted that the driver depart. The missing player emerged from the hotel in a kind of panic as he saw the coach moving off and ran after it, the driver saw him and was about to stop but Ike insisted he continued, remarking "he won't be late again" or words to that effect.
Ike also had a unique way of halting the band during rehearsal, a very loud and extremely discordant sound from his guitar brought them to a halt if they ever did something not to his liking. Yes, he was tough, but look what he brought to the music world - Tina! Even then she was sensational, and along with her backing group The Ikettes was so exciting, you cannot imagine what it was like to hear "River Deep" live while on stage.
At the beginning of the tour I travelled on the coach along with the support acts, later I travelled with Bill Wyman.
The Stones themselves were already big stars, but not yet the Superstars they are today. You don't last over fifty years in the music business if you're not unique. I have always regarded them as the best rock band in world; they blazed the trail for others to follow. However, in 1966 they were just a bunch of very talented and intelligent people. Charlie liked big band music, Bill liked to visit stately homes and castles. In the latter part of the tour he and I travelled together in his Mercedes with a couple of the Ikettes in the back, listening to The Four Tops on his in car record player. (Yes there were such things.) Bill liked to bring his car to the concerts so it became my responsibility to drive it back to the hotel after the show. When the last note was played on stage, the guys would drop their guitars and head for the limo which would take off quickly, followed by the coach and then me in Bill's Mercedes, the idea being that we could impede and slow down any pursuing bikes and such that were trying to get to the guys.
There was one time when it was necessary to take a private plane, from where I cannot recall, back to London. In those days passengers and pilots were not completely separated in the aircraft, so we could see and talk to them easily. Brian (I say Brian because it was he who was responsible for looking after a tin of "Herbal Tea") asked the pilot if we could smoke, and within a few minutes and for the rest of the flight the cabin was filled with smoke. We had a quite unusual and interesting landing.
Brian was perhaps the more eccentric of the group. He insisted that a dentist's chair be brought along and installed in each hotel room that we visited.
That really was a tour and all of it reported by me back to Radio London, the leader in the offshore radio revolution of the Sixties, without which many of today's stars would never have been discovered.
© Feature Mark Roman
All memorabilia courtesy of Mark Roman