The Rolling Stones’ Tour of the Americas ‘75 has been called ‘Pomp Rock’, and justifiably so. While the band’s last tour of North America three years earlier was big, this tour was massive; one of the largest tours undertaken by a band to this 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 7 August (4 shows closing on 10 August), before playing Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and closing the tour on 31 August in Caracas, Venezuela. It would be over twenty years before the Stones finally played in South America.
The Stones played to over a million people (1,101,800) at 45 shows in 26 cities in 21 states (plus DC 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.
Both Mick and Keith had turned thirty, it was as if The Stones had turned into rock royalty. The tour opened in Baton Rouge Louisiana where they 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 tonne 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 in time was a record for any band.
As Britain’s Daily Mirror reported, “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 2 miles away.”
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 10 songs at Fort Collins, Colorado.
The tour ended at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York, on 8 August 1975, where 81,000 fans saw the Outlaws and Bobby Womack as the opening acts before The Stones took to the stage. As one journalist noted. “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.”
Other support bands on the tour included, The Meters and J Geils Band on many of the gigs. Others in the support band slot were, The Gap Band, Rufus, Montrose, Trapeze, Tower of Power, Charlie Daniels Band, Atlanta Rhythm Section,The Commodores, Bobby Womack, and The Eagles, the latter band fresh off the back of two No.1 singles on the Hot 100.
It would be another three years until The Stones again toured America, when they did it would be a much smaller affair. While no new material was debuted on tour, the compilation album Made in the Shade was released to capitalise on the tour’s publicity.