The Rolling Stones’ Tour of the Americas ‘75 has been called “Pomp Rock,” and justifiably so. While the band’s previous tour of North America in the early 70s was big, this one was massive; one of the largest tours undertaken by a band to that point.
It was dubbed The Tour Of the Americas, as the band originally planned to play some South American dates – where they’d never played before – beginning in Mexico City on August 7, before playing Rio De Janeiro, São Paulo, and closing the tour on August 31 in Caracas, Venezuela. Unfortunately, those plans never came quite together, and it would be over twenty years before the Stones finally played in South America.
At the shows that did happen, the Stones ended up playing to over a million people (1,101,800) at 45 shows in 26 cities in 21 states (plus Washington D.C. and Canada). The tour grossed in excess of $10 million, a far cry from that first US tour that had opened almost 11 years ago, to the day, in San Bernardino.
The tour opened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the group gave two performances at the State University. 15,000 fans, at each show, watched Ronnie Wood’s first gigs with the band.
Somewhat appropriately, given the tour’s title, the band entered the stage each night to Aaron Copland’s, “Fanfare For the Common Man.” The Stones were augmented throughout the tour by Billy Preston (organ and Piano) and Ollie E. Brown (percussion); Billy did two of his own songs during the Stones set (“That’s Life” and “Outta Space”).
Robin Wagner designed the ten ton stage set in the shape of a lotus flower. A more sophisticated version was used at the larger venues, where the petals were raised and lowered hydraulically. Over 300 lights enhanced the whole effect, which – at this point – was a record for any band.
As Britain’s Daily Mirror memorably reported on the stage show this way: “Mick burst back into the limelight – sitting astride a giant penis. The 20-foot-high sex symbol appeared through a hole in the stage. Mick circled the huge phallus and finally straddled it before it sank from sight. Eight tons of speakers blasted out a sound that could be heard two miles away.”
While no new material was debuted on tour, the compilation album Made in the Shade was released to capitalize on the tour’s publicity. During the tour, several guest musicians joined The Stones on stage: Eric Clapton played on the encore one night in Madison Square Gardens; Carlos Santana played “Sympathy For The Devil” on another night, while Elton John stayed on stage for ten songs at Fort Collins, Colorado.
The support bands throughout the tour, meanwhile, were rather incredible: The Meters, J Geils Band, The Gap Band, Rufus, Montrose, Trapeze, Tower of Power, Charlie Daniels Band, Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Commodores, Bobby Womack, and The Eagles all performed opening duties for The Stones.
The tour ended at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York, on August 8, 1975. The opening acts for this particular gig were the Outlaws and Bobby Womack. Describing The Stones performance that night, one journalist wrote: “The show was nearly perfect. Charlie Watts kept his incredible pulse beat going without working up a sweat and Keith Richard will never play better than he did. Wood is as much Jagger’s foil as Keith’s. Jagger kicks, pokes and prods him, yanking him across the stage like a puppet, pretending to attack him savagely.”
It would be another three years until The Stones again toured America, and that one would be a much smaller affair.