On June 12, 1964, the Rolling Stones played to 283 unimpressed Minnesotans at Danceland, capacity 2,000. Although they made radio appearances earlier in the day, Danceland owner Ray Colihan deliberately didn’t advertise the concert for fear that too many kids would show up and he’d lose his license. But word of mouth failed to bring in the fans, and he lost money on the $2,000 he paid the Stones. A $6.00 admission fee also kept the kids away in an era where tickets were generally $1.50. (After 10pm tickets went to half price and more people showed up.) In an interview Colihan says that he booked the Stones about a month too early, before they were popular in the Cities. The only single that had been released in the States was “Not Fade Away,” which had only first appeared on the Billboard chart on May 2. Their first top ten, “Time is on my Side,” wouldn’t come until October. Read more about Danceland and Colihan
On July 14, 2014, The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society held an event called “Danceland Burning: Big Reggie’s, the Rolling Stones, and 40 Years of Music Memories at Danceland,” an open mic event to recall stories about Big Reggie’s. The event brought together, either live or on video, people who were involved with the event that night. Here are the often contradictory accounts of this mythical event!
Limo driver Dick Sather says that he picked the boys up from the airport in a nine passenger Cadillac limosine, but was told to wait until their manager came around with his car. Time went by and the boys were complaining that they were hungry, so Dick set off to their first destination, KDWB studios, for an interview. Unfortunately he went the wrong way on 494, which was under construction, and they were an hour and a half late. Somehow they got to WDGY for a second interview and then to their hotel, the Sheraton. Dick picked them up there to bring them to Excelsior, and delivered them through the loading dock. He stayed in the limo and listened to the Twins game during the concert.
Someone else says that Big Reggie himself picked them up from the airport in a limo. Jagger rolled down the window and spit.
Pat Maher, Colihan’s assistant, remembered when he picked them up at the airport “they were a scruffy bunch of guys who looked like they’d flown in the luggage compartment. This was the first big English band to come to this area.”
Yet another person said they ate lunch at the Lincoln Del before heading out to Excelsior.
- When the doors opened there were less than 20 people in attendance.
- Things were so bad that they were pelted with eggs and tomatoes
- After about five songs the audience started booing
- Jagger started to answer heckling with jeers
- They only played for an hour and walked off.
- They played two sets.
- They said they’d never come back to Minnesota.
- Brian Jones walked across the street to the Anchor Inn to order a can of soda and they couldn’t understand him.
- Richards and Jagger mixed it up with some local tough guys – sometimes a baseball bat is mentioned.
- One guy said Mick broke the jaw of a guy from Mound in a bar behind the stage.
- Danny Stevens heard that Mick might have kicked someone.
- In his 2010 autobiography, Life, Keith Richards did not specifically mention the Danceland concert. He did observe that there was a big difference between the atmosphere in the big cities and in the hinterland. People would heckle them because of their long hair and they’d have to make quick getaways as they motored across America.
- In his autobiography, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman remembers the audience reacted with “curiosity and disbelief” but that they warmed up to them toward the end.
- Dan Holm of the Chancellors noted that it was graduation day for a lot of local high schools, which may have also contributed to the small crowd. He says that the Chancellors were also on the bill – not as the warmup band for the Stones but an attraction in their own right. After meeting the Stones backstage, he observed that, not only did they not play very well, their “personal (can we say hygiene) appearance was wanting. The Rolling Stones were on a promotional tour being billed as ‘The Rolling Stones from England.’ People were curious about an English band, but they were not the draw that the local bands were. I remember Mike Waggoner & The Bops and a third band. Mostly I remember how skinny and scruffy The Rolling Stones appeared.”
- Danny Stevens says that Danny’s Reasons were in attendance.
- Larry LaPole, country singer and songwriter for the Trashmen, thinks the poor reception was because the band came on wearing makeup in the English theatrical tradition, and this didn’t sit well with 1960s Minnesotans.
- One young fan remembers that the Trashmen played Danceland the next night and drew 2-3 times the number of dancers, packing the place.
- Dave Yorks is quoted extensively in the Lake Minnetonka Online site (link at bottom):
- Jagger bantered and mixed with the audience
- Richards looked “out of it”
- They played until midnight
- No violence, polite applause
- No encores
- Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: These longhaired Brits were virtually unknown in the Twin Cities, with only one album and no U.S. hits as they undertook a nine-city debut tour that culminated at Carnegie Hall in New York. The crowd was sparse as the Stones, sporting turtlenecks, played covers from the album – “Not Fade Away,” “Route 66” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” – and their own “Tell Me.” The set was short and the reception was less than enthusiastic, according to someone who attended.
- A follow-up article by Bream on November 25, 1997, quoted David Rivkin of the Chancellors as saying “It was a short set” and that the crowd “jeered and booed.”
- “They were a lot more conservative back then,” observed Jane David in the interview. “Mick Jagger didn’t jump around much.”
- Nancy Olmstead said they looked kinda stoned – not dynamic and low key.
- It is well established that Mike Waggoner and the Bops also performed that night. Here’s the scoop straight from Mike:
I think it was an off night .. maybe a Thursday. Ray “Big Reggie” Colihan called me the prior week or ten days earlier and we chatted about the show. The Stones were very, very green .. no real hits; a lot of blues covers. Anyway, Ray asked if we could come out as he wasn’t sure what to expect, and needed a solid band just in case. We did a couple of hours, then they did their stuff. Don’t remember many other details simply because it was no big deal like it was with other groups we worked with there and elsewhere. I worked a couple of shows there with Jerry Lee, one with Brian Hyland, (Ittsy Bikini song), Roscoe and the Green Men (big draw), and I think The Everlys. Not sure on that one as we worked a number of shows with them elsewhere including the Prom, Kato, Turf and Surf Ballrooms as part of a Dick Clark Caravan deal, etc. I know The Champs used to summer in Excelsior and did appear on stage in the park but not sure about the ballroom as it was not used for many years for skating or dancing, and was used for boat storage.
I don’t recall any concerns about too many people showing up but who knows. There was very little advertising except for a few mentions by my dear friend Bill Diehl on WDGY .. where I later was a jock from ’69 – ’75. (Bill was my radio mentor, always dear friend, and very influential in getting me into the biz). I love him dearly. [Mike was on the air as King Michael.]
The Stones, I don’t believe all had amps or equipment except for their guitars. They used some of our backline gear and sound system. They borrowed a drum set (via Ray) from B Sharp. And that was that part of the deal. I have a picture someplace of Bill Wyman which also shows our PA speakers. Kinda’ cool. The fact of the matter is that no one really knew about them and they didn’t seem to be a big deal. That is why there are very few pictures or specifics to rely on for history. I do remember one of the guys had on a big belt buckle and jeans. Not sure who .. but the buckle stands out! They did arrive in a limo type car, and the vehicle got backed up on the rear ramp that was used to get bands, pop, beer, etc into the dancehall. We met them initially out there as we were unloading our trailer and gear. As I recall they were very modest and quiet. Polite greetings were exchanged, and that was that. There was a dressing room behind the stage with a curtain separating that area from the stage. I would assume that they hung out in there with their handler.
Finally, the albums that Bill gave away on London label didn’t have Stones vinyl inside. The covers were Stones but the discs were not. The promo copies had not yet arrived. [Reportedly the disc were classical records from London.]
It was quite a ho hum night, and a small crowd. Maybe 300 at most. The stories and the “retells” are very entertaining, and as said in a Kris Kristopherson song, “Partly truth and partly fiction.” But all is well that ends well and they certainly ended up selling more records than we did!
No other bands, no eggs, no tomatoes (people don’t usually go to a teen dance armed with eggs and tomatoes .. that should dispel that suspicion.)
Pat Maher, Colihan’s assistant, remembered that the Rolling Stones definitely were not booed off the stage: “The Stones were not overwhelmingly received, but the crowd eventually warmed up to them.”
This from www.minniepaulmusic.com : “In 2011 Larry Wiegand reported that the Rave-Ons were playing at Marion Hall in Bloomington on the night The Rolling Stones played at Danceland in Excelsior. Larry said The Rave-Ons drew a crowd of roughly 500, at least double the crowd size for The Stones (estimates vary from 150 to 250). Some of the people at The Stones concert went to see The Rave-Ons after the concert in Excelsior.”
AFTER THE SHOW
It seems clear that the band split up and got into at least two different cars.
Limo driver Dick Sather says that he waited in the limo during the concert, and afterwards the band got in and he took them to the hotel. He remembers girls chasing the Stones, and their boyfriends making fun by asking for Dick’s autograph. He obliged, but not with his real name!
Timothy D. Kehr took some of the Stones back to town in his four door ’57 Chevy (yellow with a white top). Mick sat in front with Kehr, and in the back were Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and the Stones’ road manager, Ira Sidelle, a friend of Kehr’s (which explains why they were in his car). Kehr swears that some kids from town had gotten hold of some eggs and pelted the car on the way out. Kehr took those in his car to Friar Tuck’s on W. 7th Street in St. Paul, a drive-in restaurant (the others went straight to the hotel). They had never seen a drive-in before, and ended up staying for two hours, ordering everything on the menu, just to see the carhops.. hop. They stayed at the Bloomington Motor Lodge by the airport, Kehr remembers. (Darel Leipold says the Holiday Inn, also by the airport.)
Jon Bream interviewed three women who said that they were invited back to the Holiday Inn where the band was staying and watched a Lon Chaney movie called “Dead Man’s Eyes” on TV. Brian Jones threw a lawn chair into the hotel pool from the balcony and Bill Wyman bought a Hershey bar. Later, Watts and Richards jumped into one of the women’s blue Impala with her, her sister, and one of the other girls to get burgers at Maximilian’s near Lake Calhoun. (StarTribune, November 25, 1997)
Gary Reins must have shown his appreciation, because afterwards Brian Jones reached into the car and grabbed the only souvenir songbook that was distributed that night. Here is a scan of it, thanks to Gary and his wife!
And finally, Jack Dunn reportedly took them back to the airport the next day.
Whatever happened, it was a disaster and the Stones stayed away from the Cities until the 1970s. (My hairdresser says that they came back to Lake Minnetonka for a wedding and stayed for a couple of weeks.)
An item in Billboard, December 12, 1964, said that British Invasion bands were not doing well at concerts, despite heavy radio airplay. Big Reggie had paid the Dave Clark Five $25,000 for two concerts, one in Des Moines, and although they grossed $10,000 in Minneapolis, Colihan lost $4,000 on the date, and his loss with the Stones was even larger. Big Reggie used to say with some amount of pride that he was the only promoter to lose money on both the Rolling Stones and the Beatles!
YOU CAN ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT
A long-running rumor is that an incident that happened during this trip inspired Jagger to write one of the Stones’ biggest hits. It involves a local Excelsior character named Jimmy Hutmaker. Jon Rukavina tells us:
I actually knew Jimmy Hutmaker because when I lived in Excelsior in 1974. I rented a room at his parents’ house. Jimmy was what we call these days special needs and quite so. He would walk the streets day and night talking to himself but if he saw someone he knew he’s snap out of wherever he was in his mind and have a conversation then right back into his world. Jimmy’s dad Dick owned the barber shop on Main Street.
Excelsior resident and businessman Darel Leipold has written a pamphlet called Mr. Jimmy, His Life and Times: The Rolling Stones in Excelsior and a Bit of Excelsior History. His telling of the event is that Jimmy was working at the Amusement Park, stacking the weighted milk bottles, and had the opportunity to meet Jagger backstage at some point the night of the concert. The next morning, he said he went to Bacon Drug to get a cherry Coke, but got a regular Coke instead. Mick Jagger came in, saw him, remembered his name, and asked “Why so bewildered, Mr. Jimmy?” Jim responded, “Because I ordered a cherry Coke, but they didn’t bring that, and that makes me feel kind of dead. I want you to know, you can not always get what you want.” Jim then followed Mike to the prescription counter where Mick got a prescription filled.
Could this have actually happened? My opinion: NO. Reasons:
- Timothy D. Kehr pointed out that he took the band away right after the show, and they had to be in Omaha the next day, making it quite infeasible that he would go all the way back to Excelsior the next day to get a prescription filled. Timothy didn’t believe it but never made an issue of it because he didn’t want to burst Mr. Jimmy’s claim to fame.
- A prescription from who?
- Danny Stevens postulates that the “prescription” could have been a card that heroin addicts in England could get and present to get a dose in order to prevent them from going into withdrawal or committing crimes to get more. Although this was only 1964, one of the group could have had one of these cards and could have presented it at the Bacon Drug pharmacy.
- Stevens suggests that the encounter could have taken place at the drug store between the first and second set, but would the store have been open that late? Besides, Jimmy was supposed to be working, according to Leipold.
- Leipold seems to indicate that Hutmaker was known simply as Jim or Jimmy before the incident, and only became “Mr. Jimmy” after the song came out.
- A web site called Songfacts has many opinions about who the real Mr. Jimmy was.
The song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was released in July 1969 as the B side of “Honky Tonk Woman.” Jagger has apparently made no move to clear this up; some speculate that he didn’t want to share royalties with Mr. Jimmy.
Mr. Jimmy attended the Bridges to Babylon tour at the Metrodome on November 25, 1997, by winning a WCCO contest that required a written entry of 25 words or less. Mr. Jimmy won easily in his age bracket with the help of Bob Bolles. He was driven to the concert in a limo by Bill Keeler and signed autographs, dressed in a tuxedo. He did not get to meet Mick, and Mick did not sing the song.
Mr. Jimmy enjoyed his fame, carrying with him a business card with his photo, and the words “Mr. Jimmy, Roving Ambassador, Excelsior, Minnesota. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.'”
Bacon Drug closed in 1994. Hutmaker died on October 3, 2007, at the Excelsior Nursing Home.
Minnetonka Record/Minnetonka Lake Living Special Section, June 1964. In case you can’t read it, that’s Calmitol, Relief for anything that itches.
Read an extended description of the concert on the Lake Minnetonka web site.