On the night of October 26, 1981, I was in the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA, enjoying one of the greatest rock ‘n roll shows ever to grace that venue: the Stray Cats opened for the Rolling Stones.
While we regularly took in rock shows in the storied 1920’s entertainment palace – which has a Moorish design throughout, from the ceiling down – seeing the Stones with only 4600 of one’s closest friends was an unexpected treat. Up and coming modern bands like the Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, even Prince and his entourage were typically booked, but on the 1981 tour the greatest rock band in the world made an appearance. Tickets had gone on sale at about 3am a few weeks prior, without warning, and sold out by dawn. Fortunately my connections in the record store community put one into my hands (at the low low price of $16!) and gave me admittance that memorable night. The marquee on Peachtree Street read: The Cockroaches … the name used on the first night of the tour, for an impromptu dress rehearsal, carried over to many of the tour dates.
Set list was classic, and by all reports it was the first tour of the Keith Richards sober era. Stray Cats “Rocked this Town” by way of warmup but didn’t overshadow the masters. I’ve always loved the Stones’ liberal use of a damn fine horn section and keyboards, which are crucial to achieving the depth of rock n’ roll tones they produce – from all “All Down the Line” to “Miss You,” the songs’ perfection relies on guitars as well as the full band that is more than backup.
Funny to think it was 33 years ago, given the timeless nature of their repertoire and the fact that they still perform it so well.