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© Ethan Russell, 1972
Keith Richards. “Patience Please” during The Stones tour of America - STP Tour, 1972
“… I was traveling with the Rolling Stones, watching from the sidelines, when I noticed the sign. I called Keith over and took two quick snaps. The customs officer threatened to confiscate the film, so I retired quickly. I knew what I had.” -- Ethan Russell, photographer
“Some of my most outrageous nights– I can only believe actually happened because of corroborating evidence. No wonder I’m famous for partying! The ultimate party– if it’s any good– you can’t remember it.” –- Keith Richards
The Rolling Stones embarked on their 1972 American tour to support the release of Exile on Main Street— which in and of itself was a push into new territory for the band, both musically and commercially. What followed rewrote the game for The Stones and the music industry, and basically set the stage for a decade of big, balls-out tours that went from being simple promotional vehicles to the pop culture events. Nothing like this had been done in Rock ‘n’ Roll prior and all subsequent tours would follow the ’72 tour blueprint for scale, attempted musicality, logistics, legal entanglements, drugs, women, hilarity, hangers-on, and general debauchery.
The Stones had not toured America since their Altamont disaster in 1969 (which led to heightened security– private planes, limos, and higher stages to reduce public access to the band), and being the biggest band in Rock and needing some cash, they set out to put together a tour like no other. What followed that June and July of ’72 is the stuff of legend. You could make the argument the overused term “party like a rock star” was born here. The private plane with the famous tongue logo, the glamorous celebrity hangers-on, the traveling press corps, the massive amount of drugs, and a much publicized four day orgy at the Chicago Playboy mansion are a few of the legendary tales to come out of the tour.
GERRY BAUM'S STAFF PICKS:
I don’t know how much more rock & roll you can get than this photograph of Keith Richards on the Stones 1972 STP tour of America…taken in a customs waiting room by Ethan Russell. Named "One of the great rock photos of all time." by the San Francisco Chronicle. This Keith Richards 1972 photo is available 5 sizes and is nearly sold out in the largest mural edition.
Don't forget to also check out Ethan Russell's iconic 1972 photograph of Keith Richards exiting 'The Starship'.