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Could It Be They'd Rather Not Get Stoned?

June 12, 1994|Steve Hochman

Still the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band?

The Rolling Stones may have to relinquish that title--at least when it comes to selling concert tickets.

The last time the Stones came to town, in 1989, the band sold out four shows at the 75,000-capacity Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as part of the fabulously successful "Steel Wheels" tour.

No such fortune this time.

The Stones had planned to do three nights at the 65,000-capacity Rose Bowl in Pasadena, starting Oct. 19. But that goal looks doubtful after the sluggish sales for just one Stones show there. Instead of the instant sellouts expected these days by major attractions, it took several days to sell out the Rose Bowl--even with the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an added attraction.

The Stones are still expected to add one more show, but plans for the third have apparently been scrapped.

How could that be?

Among the theories floated by concert industry insiders:

* It's economics. People have already spent so much money on Pink Floyd, Eagles and Barbra Streisand shows that they are reluctant to dip into their wallets again. And it's not just the Rose Bowl--the Stones' sales have been under "Steel Wheels" levels in many markets around the country.

"There's just so much money to go around--and the Stones came into the game late," one national concert promoter said. "If the Stones had come out first, it might have been a whole different story. Still, it's surprising . . . because you thought the Stones were, well, the Stones. "

* It's timing. By putting the Rose Bowl date on sale five months before the show--and before the release of the band's upcoming new album "Voodoo Lounge"--there was no new music on the radio to stir excitement. It's no coincidence that the second Rose Bowl show is not expected to go on sale until after the album's release on July 12.

"Music is how you pick up new fans," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert business trade magazine Pollstar. "If the record comes out and it gets lots of airplay, you'll see a lot of interest in the shows."

* It's over. Could it be that the Stones simply aren't the draw they used to be?

"We'll soon see," said one industry observer.

One group of people apparently counting on the Stones' coming through in the end are the area ticket brokers. A Pop Eye survey of brokers, who demand whatever the market will bear for tickets, found top seats ($50 face value) being sold for as much as $650.

Then again, the brokers also report that they still have plenty of Stones tickets on hand.

BEATLES BATTLE: It's no secret that there was bad blood between John Lennon and Paul McCartney after the Beatles broke up. The feuding was frequently quite public. Remember Lennon's vitriolic song attacking McCartney, "How Do You Sleep?"

But there was also apparently a private war of words. A handwritten draft of a nasty letter from Lennon to McCartney and his wife, Linda, has turned up and it can be yours . . . for $125,000.

That's the price being asked by Gary Zimet, a New York-based rare documents dealer who recently acquired the six-page letter from a friend of the late Beatle. Undated but apparently written around the time of the band's 1970 split, the missive lays into Paul--and, perhaps more so, Linda--for their posturing about the demise of the band.

A sampling:

"Paul and (manager Allen) Klein both spent the day persuading me it was better not to say anything (about my leaving the Beatles) because (that) would hurt the Beatles. . . . Remember? So get that into your petty little perversion of a mind, Mrs. McCartney. (The other Beatle wives) asked me to keep quiet about it. Of course the money angle is important to all of us, especially after all the petty (expletive) that came from your insane family/in-laws. And God help you out, Paul."

L.A.-based rock memorabilia collector and dealer Jeff Leve says the letter sounds like a "substantial" entry in the Beatles documents catalogue. But he says he doubts that Zimet will get even close to his asking price. Such prized items as the handwritten lyrics of "A Day in the Life," he notes, sold for considerably less than that.

And one more thing, he says: The biggest and wealthiest individual collector of Beatles items these days is not likely to want the letter.

According to Leve, the collector's name is Paul McCartney.

BLOCKBUSTER BLOCKAGE: The Eagles' reunion show at the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion June 3 was also the first run for the venue's expanded capacity to 35,000--double the previous capacity.

So how did it go?

Not well, according to some Eagles fans and some in the Eagles camp. There was grumbling about long waits at the food concessions, souvenir booths and restrooms, and up to a two-hour traffic jam after the show ended.

"It was just totally unprepared for that many people," says Peter Lopez, the Eagles' attorney. "I talked to a lot of people who felt the lines and the parking were intolerable."

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