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The Boy-Band Superstar Comes of Age

Harry Styles

Issue 1286 May 4, 2017 $6.99


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“All the News That Fits”

Mourners honor Chuck Berry at his April 9th funeral in St. Louis.



THE 50 GREATEST CONCERTS OF THE LAST 50 YEARS From the Rolling Stones’ hedonistic 1972 U.S. tour to the art-rock spectacle of Radiohead’s Glastonbury show, the performances that have defined rock & roll. 30 P LU S


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Harry Styles’ New Direction

2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

A year in the life of the young singer as he leaves his boyband past behind, heads into the studio to record his first solo album and comes of age.

At the induction ceremony, Yes and Journey put their grudges aside, Joan Baez called for tolerance in the age of Trump, and Pearl Jam proved their place in history.

By Cameron Crowe

14 ON THE COVER Harry Styles photographed in London on February 24th, 2017, by Theo Wenner. Grooming by Lou Teasdale Krystal at the Book Agency. Styling by Harry Lambert at Bryant Artists. T-shirt from Breuer and Dawson Vintage.

The Galaxy’s Hottest Mixtape Inside the Seventies classics of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack.

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Ricky Whittle (left) and Pablo Schreiber in Gods

DESIGN DIRECTOR: Joseph Hutchinson CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jodi Peckman ART DEPARTMENT: Matthew Cooley, Mark Maltais (Art Dirs.) PHOTO DEPARTMENT: Sacha Lecca (Deputy Photo Ed.), Griffin Lotz (Assoc. Photo Ed.), Sandford Griffin (Finance Mgr.)

MAKING ‘AMERICAN GODS’ Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel is one of TV’s most exciting events this season. It gets weird when a goddess devours a man with her vagina – so we explore what it took to bring these other deities to life.







Leslie Feist poured her soul into Pleasure, her first album in six years, and she talks to us about loneliness, making a true solo LP and secretly recording a party in her kitchen.

Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich is rock’s biggest fan of thoroughbred racing, and his Kentucky Derby parties are legendary. We got the backstory for the run-up to the race.

The outlaw-country godfather is celebrating his 84th birthday. We compile 20 of his greatest tracks, from “Crazy” (of Patsy Cline fame) to his legendary anthem “On the Road Again.”




With Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Journey and others all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, host Brian Hiatt and senior writer Andy Greene look back at some of the greatest – and craziest – moments in past ceremonies, from Mike Love’s fury to Prince’s legendary guitar solo. Rolling Stone Music Now airs live Fridays on SiriusXM Volume channel.






Eddie Vedder





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MANAGING EDITOR: Jason Fine DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: Sean Woods ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS: Christian Hoard, Alison Weinflash SENIOR WRITERS: David Fricke, Andy Greene, Brian Hiatt, Peter Travers SENIOR EDITORS: Patrick Doyle, Rob Fischer, Thomas Walsh ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Hannah Murphy ASSISTANT EDITORS: Rick Carp, Jason Maxey, Phoebe Neidl ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Ally Lewis ASSISTANT TO THE MANAGING EDITOR: Ellen Nelson CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Matthieu Aikins, Mark Binelli, David Browne, Rich Cohen, Jonathan Cott, Cameron Crowe, Anthony DeCurtis, Tim Dickinson, Jon Dolan, Raoul Duke (Sports), Josh Eells, Mikal Gilmore, Jeff Goodell, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Erik Hedegaard, Will Hermes, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Steve Knopper, David Kushner, Greil Marcus, Alex Morris, Charles Perry, Janet Reitman, Stephen Rodrick, Rob Sheffield, Paul Solotaroff, Ralph Steadman (Gardening), Neil Strauss, Matt Taibbi, Touré, Jonah Weiner, Christopher R. Weingarten, David Wild

Correspondence The Beatles Rock On R OLLING STONE contributor Rob Sheffield’s new book, Dreaming the Beatles, will be on sale on April 25th. In this issue, he reports from London on the outtakes of the upcoming reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With such insight seemrob sheffield doesn’t know how many Beatles ingly on every page, the books he’s read, but it’s in book delights in dissecting the triple digits. “I love them little-known moments, like George Harrison’s all, even when I don’t disastrous attempts believe a word in to sing “In My Life” them,” he says. In his on a 1974 solo tour, new book, Dreamhis voice ravaged by ing the Beatles, the brandy, cocaine and RS contributor exthe sorrow of losplores why “there in his wife to Eric never seems to be a point where the B pton. (“In public tles belong to th oesn’t cover it,” Sheffield writes. past.” How else “There’s public to explain that and then there’s the band’s leg‘Layla .’ ”) But end, as detailed there are mysteri n one c h ap Sheffield ter, reached a ne s Sheffield can’t pinnacle whe er st a nd e ven after a lifetime obsessing Cobain called Meet the Beatles his favorite album. “The over the Beatles. “When you experts slowly realized you listen to outtakes from Redidn’t need to live through volver and Rubber Soul, you the Sixties to participate in hear how much fun they had the Beatles,” Sheffield writes, being the Beatles,” he says. “just as you didn’t need to “It’s amazing that it turned witness the French Revolu- so suddenly. That’s still shocking to me.” tion to love Wordsworth.”

it ’s of ten sa id on e shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Matt Taibbi’s Trump story is as brilliant as the issue’s cover art [“Trump the Destroyer,” RS 1284]. I was hooked from the get-go, especially with the line “He looks pleased and satisfied, like a Roman emperor who has just moved his bowels.” Ashley Paskill Hatfield, PA

i always go to taibbi first. “Trump the Destroyer” is a new level even for him. Between research and observation, this article shows the bar has been set at a new high. Insightful, interesting and provocative. Frank Salvaggio Lenox, MA

the story is a chronicle of butt-hurt. Donald Trump was elected president because it’s time for some fundamental change in our country. Taibbi can bitch and complain all he wants, but things are going to change here. Enjoy the ride. Otis R. Needleman Via the Internet

i a m c om f ort e d t o se e this sentence below the article: “Matt Taibbi will be covering the Trump administration every month in the magazine.” Rondi Lund-Zeiger Huntington Beach, CA

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Werner’s World i was excited, a nd then disappointed, reading Erik Hedegaard’s article on Werner Herzog [“The Peculiar Mr. Herzog,” RS 1284]. He couldn’t seem to get much out of Herzog except brief statements. Hedegaard noted his subject’s contradictions as a person, while he should have been writing about Herzog’s work. Matthew Snope Decatur, GA

a n y l ist of “e s se n t i a l” Herzog films must include the stunning Stroszek, a great char-

acter study set in an authentically grimy mid-Seventies mise-en-scène. In what other film can you see a chicken dance so metaphorically? Tom Caufield Los Angeles

adolescent testosterone, immature brain-control centers, booze, drugs and now loaded guns? Helen Hill Updike New York

i n ge orgi a , l aw m a k e r s have passed a campus-carry bill. We are waiting for the governor’s reaction. The public is against it, but lawmakers are relying on fake news to garner support. Let’s hope the governor vetoes this dangerous bill before someone gets killed. Dave Fedack Douglasville, GA

Misty’s Long Trip if parents want to warn their children away from LSD, they should read your interview with Father John Misty [Q&A, RS 1284]. About halfway through his self-indulgent babble, he describes himself perfectly: “If it’s vague enough, narcissists can project.” Jim Tuttle Monterey, CA

Hunter’s Legacy y ou r p i e c e o n h u n t e r Thompson lef t me feeling grateful that I can claim my own version of such an expansive writer in Matt Taibbi [“Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” RS 1284]. Oh, maybe without the drugs and suicide, but biting and blessedly irreverent. And in this dreadful era of journalistic nothingness, it’s easier to see who is the best. Jim Corbin Portland, ME

Armed Students g ood n ews: the tedious and time-consuming college search is getting a lot easier [“Inside the Fight Over Guns on Campus,” RS 1284]. Two hundred colleges can be struck off the list. Who will want to consign their daughter or son to a campus awash with late-

Contact Us LETTERS to ROLLING STONE , 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298. Letters become the property of ROLLING STONE and may be edited for publication. E-MAIL SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Go to •Subscribe •Renew •Cancel •Missing Issues •Give a Gift •Pay Bill •Change of Address

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Trump Up Front

Love Letters & Advice

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(1) Vedder closing with “Rockin’ in the Free World.” (2) Journey’s Schon (left) and Perry. (3) Jackson Browne inducting Baez. “Her voice led me into the world of folk and blues,” he said.



Rock Hall’s Epic Night t he 2017 rock a n d rol l h a l l of Fame ceremony was full of moments fans thought they’d never see, from the classic lineup of Yes putting aside years of bad blood to play one last time, to the first performance since 1991 from Pearl Jam’s original lineup. But nothing was more surprising than the reunion of Journey. In the days before the show, the band resorted to Twitter to lobby its estranged former singer,

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Journey and Yes put old grudges aside, and Pearl Jam bring down the house at moving ceremony BY A N DY GR E E N E

Steve Perry, to appear with his old band onstage for the first time in 26 years. The group got its wish, with Perry showing up and embracing his bandmates as they collected their statues. Backstage, Perry made plans with guitarist Neal Schon to meet for a “way-overdue coffee.” “The night was surreal,” says Schon. “I got very emotional.” The April 7th show – which also saw the inductions of Joan Baez, Nile Rodgers,

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No Sleep Till Brooklyn



Electric Light Orchestra and Tupac Shakur – was the best Hall of Fame ceremony in years. It began with a celebration of Chuck Berry, who died at age 90 on March 18th. “Thirty-two years ago, the very first person ever inducted into the Hall of Fame was Chuck Berry,” said Hall of Fame Foundation chairman Jann S. Wenner to the audience at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “No one in this room would be here tonight but for this man. He’s called the father, the inventor of rock & roll. He put the poetry of the common man to the beat, and then he laid on that revved-up, motorvatin’, double-string guitar attack that laid down the law for every rock & roll musician that

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came after. Tonight we say farewell to the founding father.” With that, inductees ELO kicked into Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” which they had covered in 1973, with frontman Jeff Lynne breaking out a guitar solo that would have made Berry proud. “It’s such a pleasure to get one of these,” said Lynne onstage afterward. “Because I’ve watched lots, hundreds, of people getting awards.” Baez was another inductee who had been waiting a long time for her statue. Her old friend Jackson Browne made a case for why the honor was long overdue. So did Baez herself: “Though one cannot say I’m a rock & roll artist, one cannot overlook the

folk music of the Sixties and the immense effect it had on popular music, including rock & roll. Nor can anyone overlook the role I played in that phenomenon.” Baez also used her speech to call for tolerance and inclusion in the age of Trump. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, she converted an arena full of rabid Pearl Jam fans with a spooky “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” (She altered the lyrics to note that even Donald Trump can be saved.) She then previewed her upcoming Four Voices Tour by bringing out Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls for Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” and the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

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(1) Pharrell ushered in Nile Rodgers. (2) Lenny Kravitz paid tribute to Prince with “When Doves Cry” and “The Cross.” (3) Yes keyboardist Wakeman. “I just wanted to have a bit of fun,” he said. (4) Lynne was inducted by Dhani Harrison, who recalled dad George taking him to his first ELO show when he was seven years old.

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Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World (1) Vedder and daughters Olivia (top) and Harper. (2) Snoop: “[Tupac] saw more potential in me than I saw in myself.” (3) Letterman with a guitar Vedder gave his son. (4) Yes’ Trevor Rabin, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Ament, Lee (from left).

Tupac became the first solo rapper to enter the Hall of Fame. His old Death Row Records labelmate Snoop Dogg gave a hilarious speech that included a story about a trip they took to South America shortly before Tupac’s death. “Do you know what parasailing is?” Snoop asked. “Because we damn sure didn’t. . . . The boat pulls away and we start floating up in the air. We scared as a motherfucker.” Since Tupac had no children and his mother died in 2016, Snoop accepted the award, and then participated in a medley of the rapper’s songs with Alicia Keys, YG and others. Pharrell inducted his “Get Lucky” collaborator Rodgers, praising the Chic frontman’s willingness to take a back seat while working with fellow hitmakers. Rodgers struck a humble note during his speech too: “This award, which is amazing to me, is really because of all the people that have allowed me to come into their lives and just join their band. Be it Mick Jagger, be it Madonna, Duran Duran, Pharrell Williams, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge. Thank you all.” Like Journey, Yes have spent the past several years touring without their original

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lead singer. The surviving members now tour in two warring camps: Yes and Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman. But they all put years of animosity aside, teaming up for a bombastic “Roundabout” (joined by Rush bassist Geddy Lee, who inducted the group with bandmate Alex Lifeson) and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” in which Rick Wakeman ventured into the audience with a keytar. “It was a one-off,” says Wakeman of reuniting with his former mates. “Never to happen again.” Wakeman gave one of the funniest (not to mention filthiest) speeches in Hall of Fame history. He made virtually no mention of the band, instead cracking jokes about a prostate exam and an early sexual experience. “My father was an Elvis impersonator,” he deadpanned. “But there wasn’t much call for that in 1947.” Backstage, Wakeman explained his approach: “I thought, ‘Do I go on and thank all the different guys in the band that I’ve played with?’ Everyone is going to say that. So I thought I’d just have a bit of fun.” Wakeman, it turned out, was the perfect opening act for David Letterman, who

stepped in to induct Pearl Jam after an ill Neil Young canceled (“He swallowed a harmonica,” Letterman speculated). “In 1994, these young men risked their careers by going after those beady-eyed, bloodthirsty weasels [at Ticketmaster],” Letterman said of Pearl Jam. “And because they stood up to the corporations, I’m happy to say, today every concert ticket in the United States of America is free.” Letterman also proved to be a knowledgeable Pearl Jam fan, heaping praise on their 1992 B side “Yellow Ledbetter.” At one point, he showed off a guitar that Eddie Vedder gave to his son, Harry, at one of Letterman’s final broadcasts, in 2015. Vedder was undoubtedly the crowd favorite of the night: His brief cameos on the overhead screens throughout the show elicited deafening chants from the Pearl Jam army in the audience. During the group’s a c c ept a nc e sp e e c he s , bassist Jeff Ament staged a quiet protest with a Tshirt displaying the names of 100 acts that have yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, from Hüsker Dü to Bon Jovi. Vedder gave moving testimony, touching on climate change and his mother’s early support. He also shouted out all five of Pearl Jam’s past drummers (Letterman joked that the entire balcony was full of former Pearl Jam 3 drummers). “We have the great Dave Abbruzzese,” Vedder said, referring to their mid-Nineties member who had criticized the band for not lobbying the Hall of Fame to induct him too. “You are a great drummer!” Vedder remembered life before fame, when he worked as a security guard, watching Letterman’s show to pass the time. “Dave was my co-pilot,” the frontman said. “To have him up here, it’s an honor. . . . I feel like we’re about halfway to deserving an accolade of this stature. But this is very encouraging.” The band then blazed through three Nineties classics: a ferocious “Alive,” with original drummer Dave Krusen; “Given to Fly”; and an emotional “Better Man.” Vedder gave a shout-out to Young, before kicking into “Rockin’ in the Free World.” They were backed by many of the evening’s inductees and guests, including Schon, who was still processing the heavy emotions of the night. “I had tears in my eyes,” he said later. “I know I’ve said in the past that I didn’t really care about the Hall of Fame, since we were never up for induction. But I do now that we’re in.”

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The Galaxy’s Hottest Mixtape Inside the oddball Seventies classics of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ the most anticipated soundtrack in years BY BR I A N H I AT T 2 1


SPACE JAMS (1) Pratt, Karen Gillan (left) and Zoe Saldana. (2) Soundtrack stars Fleetwood Mac and (3) ELO’s Jeff Lynne.

lowed him to include familiar songs from superstar acts: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (every band member watched the scene that features the song before giving approval) and ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” – which scores what Gunn calls “the most hugely insane shot I’ve ever done,” early in the film. “It’s the perfect song to start the movie,” says Gunn, “because it’s really joyous, but there’s a really dark underpinning to it.” There are, again, plenty of deep cuts on hand, and Gunn (who once played in a band of his own, the Icons) relished the chance to expose the likes of Sweet’s “Fox on the Run” and Jay and the Americans’ “Come a Little

Bit Closer” – not to mention a true obscurity like 1976’s “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang,” by one-hit-wonder Silver – to the Marvelloving masses. “One of the most exciting things,” he says, “was knowing I would be making bands that may have been forgotten suddenly be a topic of conversation.” Along the way, he’s listened to the movie’s songs over and over – but he doesn’t mind. “The weird thing is, I’ve never gotten sick of a Guardians song,” says Gunn, fresh from hearing “Mr. Blue Sky” yet again while supervising the film’s sound mix. “Chris Pratt listened to the first album hundreds of times. He said the only song he got sick of was ‘The Piña Colada Song.’”

Five Highlights From ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 2’ ‘Surrender’

‘Guardians Inferno’ This comedic original, co-written by Gunn and sung by David Hasselhoff, is meant as a sort of Guardians take on Meco’s disco Star Wars theme.

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By including this 1978 Cheap Trick classic, Gunn repays a favor to the band, which let him use “If You Want My Love” in his 2011 indie film Super for nearly nothing.

‘Southern Nights’

‘Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)’

‘Father and Son’

Glen Campbell’s groovy 1977 version of Allen Toussaint’s song was a childhood favorite of Gunn’s: “It’s a little bit of a different flavor for the movie.”

Gunn has long adored Looking Glass’ cheeseball 1972 smash, which plays a key emotional role in the new movie, appearing in the very first scene.

Gunn was inspired to use this 1970 Cat Stevens ballad after hearing Howard Stern attempt to perform it on acoustic guitar on his show.

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hil e dir ec t or ja mes Gunn was finishing the 2014 sci-fi film Guardians of the Galaxy, he kept hearing one bit of feedback from some Marvel Studios employees. “Nobody,” he recalls them saying, “is going to want to hear this music.” Gunn had laced the movie with eighttrack-era gems – Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” – but the skeptics insisted that using, say, Nineties Britney jams would be a smarter move. From the moment he got the job, though, Gunn was intent on lending some grounded humanity to his oddball space opera – where an acerbic space raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is among the leads – by setting key scenes against dusty, incongruous pop songs. The conceit is that the tunes come from an ancient Walkman toted around by Chris Pratt’s Earth-bred character, who owns just one cassette, given to him by his mom on her deathbed: the homemade “Awesome Mix Vol. 1.” “They were songs that people had probably heard but probably didn’t know the name of,” says Gunn. The awesomeness of that mixtape is no longer in doubt. Guardians got critical raves for its wit and inventiveness, and it grossed $773 million worldwide; the soundtrack album hit Number One, going platinum, with iTunes reviews full of teens singing the glories of Seventies soft rock. And, conveniently enough, the movie ended with Pratt’s character, Peter Quill, discovering that his late mom had left him one more tape, “Awesome Mix Vol. 2.” So music will be just as central to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, due May 5th, with its soundtrack album out April 21st. This time, Gunn had a bigger budget, which al-


Beatles Open ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Vault Inside the legendary album’s new 50th-anniversary box set, featuring dozens of unreleased outtakes BY ROB SH EF F IELD


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PEPPERLAND At Abbey Road, 1967

The Fab Four’s Buried Treasures The biggest revelations from the never-heard recording sessions ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ The first take of the theme song is a long, raw Hendrix-style guitar jam, stretching out at the end as McCartney rants, “I feel it, oh, baby, I feel it, I feel freeeee now!”

‘A Day in the Life’ The original ending, with the Beatles humming that famous final chord, before they decided to do it with pianos instead. “Have you got the note?” John Lennon asks his bandmates. “Stop freaking out!”

‘Getting Better’ An aggressive take driven by McCartney’s Wurlitzer keyboard. Lennon gives him some advice: “Sing it – you know, ‘I gotta admit,’ and all that – properly.”

‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ A take with Lennon leading on acoustic guitar, while McCartney follows on electric keyboard. Lennon’s raw-power vocal is a world away from the ethereal dreaminess of the final version.

involvement. The remix is full of nuances any fan will notice, especially the bottom end – Starr’s kick drum reveals new dimensions. “There’s nothing new – this is the album they made,” Martin says. “All we do is peel back the layers of compression that were necessary to release music in 1967. It’s their album now. It’s just boys in a room, making noise.” The project is a tribute to the band and George Martin, who passed away in early 2016 while the work was underway. “It was emotional, hearing the old man’s voice in the playbacks,” Martin says. “I’ve been working for my dad since I was 15. As his hearing started to fade, I became his ears.” Asked if this box will heat up the demand for similar treatments of other LPs, such as Abbey Road, Martin winces: “Can I have two weeks off first?” Even Apple Corps insiders seem surprised the release came together so fast. Martin started working on it in late 2015, and McCartney, Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono had to approve it, right down to the color scheme of the packaging. Martin says going back to Pepper was a discovery for the band as well. He recalls playing McCartney various outtakes of “Within You Without You.” “I don’t know how long it had been since he’d heard that song – probably a long time,” he says. “Paul closed his eyes, listened and said, ‘Hey, George was really good!’”

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he beatles have been notoriously cautious about digging through their vaults – 1995’s Anthology documentary project took more than 25 years for the group to approve and release, while films like Let It Be remain under wraps, even though they would be guaranteed moneymakers. Which is why it’s so surprising that, 50 years after the release of the band’s most famous album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles are issuing a new box set featuring 34 never-heard tracks from the sessions – the first time they have released unheard studio material since Anthology. Today, Giles Martin, the producer and son of the late George Martin, sits at the control board at Abbey Road’s Studio Two in London, playing back some of the lost treasures. The studio looks the same as it did when the Beatles made the album here in 1967 – even the same baffles hang on the wall. “Abbey Road is a bit like a salad bowl or a teapot,” says Martin. “The walls absorb music.” While there are no entirely new songs – not even the mythical lost 1967 psychedelic jam “Carnival of Light” (“It’s not really part of Pepper,” says Martin) – there are revelatory outtakes of every song: a rocked-up “Fixing a Hole,” full of R&B harpsichord; a version of “Within You Without You” in which George Harrison gives his instructions to the Indian musicians (“OK, the main thing is the timing”). Says Martin, “My dad said recording George was like watching someone make a carpet thread by thread, thinking about each bit.” Martin says that talk of the project began after he remixed the Beatles’ hits collection 1 in 2015. Encouraged by those mixes (which didn’t include any Sgt. Pepper songs), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr agreed it was time to give the same treatment to their psychedelic masterpiece. Fans have always complained about the diffuse stereo mix of the 39-minute original album; the mono version was the one George Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick and the band spent weeks mixing, while the stereo version was a rushed afterthought, without the group’s


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ohn mellencamp spends an awful lot of time alone, painting. Not long ago, he went 35 days without leaving his Indiana compound, a stretch so lengthy that his 85-year-old dad told him he was worried. But whether he wants them or not, songs still come to him, as his strong, country-inflected new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies (made in collaboration with Carlene Carter), makes clear. “A voice in my head will go, ‘OK, put your brush down and write these words down,’ ” he says. “And I’ll be like, ‘No, I don’t want to fucking write a song.’ Then the voice will go, ‘You better write this down, you idiot.’ Then I forget about it, and I find it and go, ‘When did I write this?’ It’s a wonderful way of writing songs.” How would you define your relationship with the country-music world? Hold it – how do the country people define their relationship with me? I was doing this long before they were doing it – Scarecrow, Big Daddy, Lonesome Jubilee. So I didn’t go to country. They caught up with me. I hate to sound like Little Richard, when he kept going, “I invented rock & roll!” But if you ask Keith Urban or Kenny Chesney what inspired them, they’ll tell you me. You seemed to enjoy your recent CMT Crossroads show with Darius Rucker. He was so excited. When someone is that ingratiating, it’s hard to be a curmudgeon, though I tried. He made it easy. And I’m hard to work with. Why are you hard to work with? My opinion is hard to deal with. I remember arguing – not arguing, joking – with Arlo Guthrie about how to play “This Land Is Your Land” at a Woody event. He kept putting in these passing chords. I said, “Guthrie, your old man did not put those fucking chords in there.” He goes, “That’s the way I played it forever.” I go, “I don’t care.” We ended up playing it my way. You recently said that Woody Guthrie wouldn’t get any attention today. Well, yeah. He’d just be playing songs for friends. You think he would go somewhere? I just wrote a beautiful fucking [protest] song called “Easy Target.” And nobody gave a fuck. In that song you mention “Sucker Town.” Are Trump voters suckers? I don’t know if it’s just this guy. It’s been discussed for years – a certain element of our country . . . Who vote against their interests? They voted for Reagan, and in the town I live in, there would be Bush signs up in people’s yards. I knew they

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John Mellencamp The singer-songwriter explains how he invented modern country music and why he’ll never stop smoking BY BR I A N H I AT T

couldn’t afford to, you know, take him to dinner. Some think that’s racism at work. Well, I was in New York, and I went on a date with a girl. We went to a movie called – you should go to this movie – Get Out. We walked out and we went, “How come black people hate us? They fuckin’ hate our guts.” And then we both agreed that, you know, they’ve got good reason! But it’s really fun to go to the movies and be me. I sat down and the guy next to me goes, “Hey, John, you want some popcorn?” “Sure.” Speaking of dating, your new song “Sad Clowns” basically warns women to stay away from you. As soon as I wrote that, I looked up and said, “Thanks, Ray.” Because I know it’s a Ray Davies song, like “Sunny Afternoon” – a self-deprecating song. I did 130 shows opening for the Kinks in the late Seventies, and I learned a lot. Though at the time, I said, “This is fucking horrible.” Ray was rough on everybody. Him and his brother spitting on each other. Like, “Are you kidding me?” And then Ray wouldn’t let us eat catering. We always had to go out to McDonald’s or something. You worked extensively with Stephen King on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. What did you guys have in common? I’m a hypochondriac. Steve’s a hypochondriac. “Steve, I can’t possibly have sickle cell anemia. But I think I do.” And he’s always got some kind of ankle disease or some shit. But he explained it to me. He said, “Here’s the thing, John. You and I make shit up for a living. When we have idle time on our hands, we turn it on ourselves and make shit up. You don’t have sickle cell!” Your friend Bob Dylan shouted you out in his MusiCares speech a couple of years back. What did that mean to you? That wink and a nod was worth more than 50 Grammys. That came from Bob, that came from his heart. He didn’t have to fucking say that. The girl I was with started crying. Bob doesn’t like very many people. What do you make of his standards albums? They’re great. Bob is always so far ahead of us. He’s given me a lot of advice: “Go where they’re not.” Are you ever going to quit smoking? I’m smoking right now. It’s been great for my voice. My engineer said, “You sound like somebody.” It turned out to be Louis Armstrong. We A-B’d his voice against mine. And I was like, “Fuck, what’s wrong with that?”

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Harry Styles’ By Cameron Crowe

A year in the life of the singer as he leaves behind his boy-band past, heads to Jamaica and comes of age Photographs by THEO WENNER 20 R ol l i n g S t o n e

January 2016. There’s a bench at the top of Primrose Hill, in London, that looks out over the skyline of the city. If you’d passed by it one winter night, you might have seen him sitting there. A lanky guy in a wool hat, overcoat and jogging pants, hands thrust deep into his pockets. Harry Styles had a lot on his mind. He had spent five years as the buoyant fan favorite in One Direction; now, an uncertain future stretched out in front of him. The band had announced an indefinite hiatus. The white noise of adulation was gone, replaced by the RIDE WITH ME hushed sound of the city below. v The fame Styles in London visited upon Harry Styles in his years with in February.

One D was a special kind of mania. With a self-effacing smile, a hint of darkness and the hair invariably described as “tousled,” he became a canvas onto which millions of fans pitched their hopes and dreams. Hell, when he pulled over to the side of the 101 freeway in L.A. and discreetly threw up, the spot became a fan shrine. It’s said the puke was even sold on eBay like pieces of the Berlin Wall. Paul McCartney has interviewed him. Then there was the unauthorized fan-fiction series featuring a punky, sexed-up version of “Harry Styles.” A billion readers followed his virtual exploits. (“Didn’t read it,” comments the nonfiction Styles, “but I hope he gets more than me.”) But at the height of One D-mania, Styles took a step back. For many, 2016 was a year of lost musical heroes and a toxic new world order. For Styles, it was a search for a new identity that began on that bench overlooking London. What would a solo

He’s full of stories about the two-month recording session last fall at Geejam, a studio and compound built into a mountainside near Port Antonio, a remote section of Jamaica. Drake and Rihanna have recorded there, and it’s where Styles produced the bulk of his new LP, which is due out May 12th. As we weave through traffic today, the album no one has heard is burning a hole in his iPhone. We arrive at a crowded diner, and Styles cuts through the room holding a black notebook jammed with papers and artifacts from his album, looking like a college student searching for a quiet place to study. He’s here to do something he hasn’t done much of in his young career: an extended one-on-one interview. Often in the past there was another One D member to vector questions into a charmingly evasive display of band camaraderie. Today, Styles is a game but careful custodian of his words,

“EVERY DECISION I’VE MADE SINCE 16 WAS made in a democracy. I felt it was time to make a decision - and I shouldn’t rely on others.” Harry Styles sound like? A plan came into focus. A song cycle about women and relationships. Ten songs. More of a rock sound. A bold single-color cover to match the working title: Pink. (He quotes the Clash’s Paul Simonon: “Pink is the only true rock & roll colour.”) Many of the details would change over the coming year – including the title, which would end up as Harry Styles – but one word stuck in his head.


onest,” he says, a year later, driving through midcity Los Angeles in a dusty black Range Rover. He’s lived here off and on for the past few years, always returning to London. Styles’ car stereo pumps a mix of country and obscure classic rock. “I didn’t want to write ‘stories,’ ” he says. “I wanted to write my stories, things that happened to me. The number-one thing was I wanted to be honest. I hadn’t done that before.” There isn’t a yellow light he doesn’t run as he speaks excitedly about the band he’s put together under the tutelage of producer Jeff Bhasker (The Rolling Stones, Kanye West, “Uptown Funk”).

Contributing editor Ca meron Crowe wrote about Glenn Frey in January 2016.

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sometimes silently consulting the tablecloth before answering. But as he recounts the events leading up to his year out of the spotlight, the layers begin to slip away. It was in a London studio in late 2014 that Styles first brought up the idea of One Direction taking a break. “I didn’t want to exhaust our fan base,” he explains. “If you’re shortsighted, you can think, ‘Let’s just keep touring,’ but we all thought too much of the group than to let that happen. You realize you’re exhausted and you don’t want to drain people’s belief in you.” After much discussion, the band mutually agreed to a hiatus, which was announced in August 2015 (Zayn Malik had abruptly left One D several months earlier). Fans were traumatized by the band’s decision, but were let down easy with a series of final bows, including a tour that ran through October. Styles remains a One D advocate: “I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything.” Still, a solo career was calling. “I wanted to step up. There were songs I wanted to write and record, and not just have it be ‘Here’s a demo I wrote.’ Every decision I’ve made since I was 16 was made in a democracy. I felt like it was time to make a decision about the future . . . and maybe I shouldn’t rely on others.”

As one of the most well-known 23-yearolds in the world, Styles himself is still largely unknown. Behind the effervescent stage persona, there is more lore than fact. He likes it that way. “With an artist like Prince,” he says, “all you wanted to do was know more. And that mystery – it’s why those people are so magical! Like, fuck, I don’t know what Prince eats for breakfast. That mystery . . . it’s just what I like.” Styles pauses, savoring the idea of the unknown. He looks at my digital recorder like a barely invited guest. “More than ‘do you keep a mystery alive?’ – it’s not that. I like to separate my personal life and work. It helps, I think, for me to compartmentalize. It’s not about trying to make my career longer, like I’m trying to be this ‘mysterious character,’ because I’m not. When I go home, I feel like the same person I was at school. You can’t expect to keep that if you show everything. There’s the work and the personal stuff, and going between the two is my favorite shit. It’s amazing to me.” Soon, we head to the Beachwood Canyon studio of Jeff Bhasker. As we arrive, Styles bounds up the steps to the studio, passing a bored pool cleaner. “How are ya,” he announces, unpacking a seriously cheerful smile. The pool cleaner looks perplexed, not quite sharing Styles’ existential joy. Inside, the band awaits. Styles opens his notebook and heads for the piano. He wants to finish a song he’d started earlier that day. It’s obvious that the band has a well-worn frat-house dynamic, sort of like the Beatles in Help!, as directed by Judd Apatow. Styles is, to all, “H.” Pomegranate-scented candles flicker around the room. Bhasker enters, with guru-length hair, multicolored shirt, red socks and sandals. He was initially busy raising a new baby with his partner, the singer and songwriter Lykke Li, so he guided Styles to two of his producer-player protégés, Alex Salibian and Tyler Johnson, as well as engineer and bassist Ryan Nasci. The band began to form. The final piece of the puzzle was Mitch Rowland, Styles’ guitarist, who had worked in a pizza joint until two weeks into the sessions. “Being around musicians like this had a big effect on me,” Styles says. “Not being able OPEN DOOR to pass an instru“I would never rule ment without sitting out anything in the future,” Styles down and playing says of One D. it?” He shakes his head. It was Styles’ first full immersion into the land of musos, and he clearly can’t get enough. Styles starts singing some freshly written lyrics. It’s a new song called “I Don’t Want to Be the One You’re Waiting On.” His voice sounds warm, burnished and intimate, not unlike early Rod Stewart. The song is quickly finished, and the band assembles for a playback of the album.

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Harry Styles

Harry Styles “Mind if I play it loud?” asks Bhasker. It’s a rhetorical question. Nasci cranks “Sign of the Times,” the first single, to a seismic level. The song began as a seven-minute voice note on Styles’ phone, and ended up as a sweeping piano ballad, as well as a kind of call to arms. “Most of the stuff that hurts me about what’s going on at the moment is not politics, it’s fundamentals,” Styles says. “Equal rights. For everyone, all races, sexes, everything . . . ‘Sign of the Times’ came from ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a hard time, and it’s not going to be the last time.’ The song is written from a point of view as if a mother was giving birth to a child and there’s a complication. The mother is told, ‘The child is fine, but you’re not going to make it.’ The mother has five minutes to tell the child, ‘Go forth and conquer.’ ” The track was a breakthrough for both the artist and the band. “Harry really led the charge with that one, and the rest of the album,” says Bhasker. “I wish the album could be called Sign of

then. I wanted to do something that sounds like me. I just keep pushing forward.” “It’s different from what you’d expect,” Bhasker says. “It made me realize the Harry [in One D] was kind of the digitized Harry. Almost like a character. I don’t think people know a lot of the sides of him that are on this album. You put it on and people are like, ‘This is Harry Styles?’” Styles is aware that his largest audience so far has been young – often teenage women. Asked if he spends pressure-filled evenings worried about proving credibility to an older crowd, Styles grows animated. “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of

“WHO’S TO SAY YOUNG GIRLS HAVE WORSE taste than a 30-year-old hipster? Girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious?” the Times,” Styles declares. “I don’t know,” says Bhasker. “I mean, it has been used.” They debate for a bit. Nasci plays more tracks. The songs range from full-on rock (“Kiwi”) to intricate psychedelic pop (“Meet Me in the Hallway”) to the outright confessional (“Ever Since New York,” a desperate meditation on loss and longing). The lyrics are full of details and references – secrets whispered between friends, doomed declarations of love, empty swimming pools – sure to set fans scrambling for the facts behind the mystery. “Of course I’m nervous,” Styles admits, jingling his keys. “I mean, I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I’m happy I found this band and these musicians, where you can be vulnerable enough to put yourself out there. I’m still learning . . . but it’s my favorite lesson.” The album is a distinct departure from the dance pop that permeates the airwaves. “A lot of my influences, and the stuff that I love, is older,” he says. “So the thing I didn’t want to do was, I didn’t want to put out my first album and be like, ‘He’s tried to re-create the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties.’ Loads of amazing music was written then, but I’m not saying I wish I lived back

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keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”


t y l e s dr i v e s t o a qu i et dinner spot in Laurel Canyon, at the foot of Lookout Mountain Avenue, onetime home to many of his Seventies songwriting heroes. He used to have a place around the corner. As the later tours of One Direction grew larger, longer and more frenetic, he offers with irony, “It was very rock & roll.” He’s not a heavy drinker, he says, maybe some tequila on ice or wine with friends after a show, but by the band’s last tour there wasn’t much time even for that. John Lennon once told Rolling Stone that behind the curtain, the Beatles’ tours were like Fellini’s Satyricon. Styles counters that the One D tours were more like “a Wes Anderson movie. Cut. Cut. New location. Quick cut. New location. Cut. Cut. Show. Shower. Hard cut. Sleep.” Finding a table, Styles leans forward and discusses his social-media presence, or lack thereof. Styles and his phone have a bittersweet, mature relationship – they spend a lot of time apart. He doesn’t Google

himself, and checks Twitter infrequently. “I’ll tell you about Twitter,” he continues, discussing the volley of tweets, some good, some cynical, that met his endorsement of the Women’s March on Washington earlier this year. “It’s the most incredible way to communicate closely with people, but not as well as in person.” When the location of his London home was published a few years ago, he was rattled. His friend James Corden offered him a motto coined by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “Never complain, never explain.” I mention a few of the verbal Molotov cocktails Zayn Malik has tossed at the band in recent interviews. Here’s one: “[One D is] not music that I would listen to. If I was sat at a dinner date with a girl, I would play some cool shit, you know what I mean? I want to make music that I think is cool shit. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.” Styles adjusts himself in his chair. “I think it’s a shame he felt that way,” he says, threading the needle of diplomacy, “but I never wish anything but luck to anyone doing what they love. If you’re not enjoying something and need to do something else, you absolutely should do that. I’m glad he’s doing what he likes, and good luck to him.” Perched on his head are the same-style white sunglasses made famous by Kurt Cobain, but the similarities end right there. Styles, born two months before Cobain exited Earth, doesn’t feel tied to any particular genre or era. In the car, he’ll just as easily crank up the country music of Keith Whitley as the esoteric blues-and-soul of Shuggie Otis. He even bought a carrot cake to present to Stevie Nicks at a Fleetwood Mac concert. (“Piped her name onto it. She loved it. Glad she liked carrot cake.”) This much is clear: The classic role of tortured artist is not one he’ll be playing. “People romanticize places they can’t get to themselves,” he says. “That’s why it’s fascinating when people go dark – when Van Gogh cuts off his ear. You romanticize those people, sometimes out of proportion. It’s the same with music. You want a piece of that darkness, to feel their pain but also to step back into your own [safer] life. I can’t say I had that. I had a really nice upbringing. I feel very lucky. I had a great family and always felt loved. There’s nothing worse than an inauthentic tortured person. ‘They took my allowance away, so I did heroin.’ It’s like – that’s not how it works. I don’t even remember what the question was.” Styles wanders into the Country Store next door. It’s a store he knows well. Inspecting the shelves, he asks if I’ve had British rice pudding. He finds a can that looks ancient. He collects a roll of Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles (“since 1881”), Lindor Swiss chocolates (“irresistibly smooth”) and a jar of Branston Pickles. “There’s only two shops in L.A. that stock all the British

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snacks. This area’s kind of potluck,” he says, spreading the collection on the counter. The clerk rings up the snacks. In the most careful, deferential way, the young worker asks the question. “Would you . . . happen to be . . . Harry Styles?” “Yep.” “Could I get a selfie?” Styles obliges, and leans over the counter. Click. We exit into the Laurel Canyon evening. “Hey,” shouts a grizzled-looking dude on the bench outside the store. “Do you know who you look like?” Styles turns, expecting more of the same, but this particular night denizen is on a different track.

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“River Phoenix,” the man announces, a little sadly. “You ever heard of him? If he hadn’t have passed, I would have said that was you. Talented guy.” “Yes, he was,” agrees Styles, who is in many ways the generational opposite of Phoenix. “Yes, he was.” They share a silent moment, before Styles walks to his car. He hands me the bag filled with English snacks. “This is for you,” he says. “This was my youth. . . .” harry edward st yles was born in Worcestershire, England, in true classicrock form, on a Tuesday Afternoon. The family moved to Cheshire, a quiet spot in

Northern England, when he was a baby. His older sister, Gemma, was the studious one. (“She was always smarter than me, and I was always jealous of that.”) His father, Desmond, worked in finance. He was a fan of the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, a lot of Queen, and Pink Floyd. Young Harry toddled around to The Dark Side of the Moon. “I couldn’t really get it,” he says, “but I just remember being like – this is really fucking cool. Then my mom would always have Shania Twain, and Savage Garden, Norah Jones going on. I had a great childhood. I’ll admit it.” But in fact, all was not perfection, scored to a cool, retro soundtrack. When Harry was seven, his parents explained to him that Des would be moving out. Asked about that moment today, Styles stares straight ahead. “I don’t remember,” he says. “Honestly, when you’re that young, you can kind of block it out. . . . I can’t say that I remember the exact thing. I didn’t realize that was the case until just now. Yeah, I mean, I was seven. It’s one of those things. Feeling supported and loved by my parents never changed.” His eyes moisten a little, but unlike the young man who wept over an early bout with Internet criticism, a powerful moment in the early One Direction documentary A Year in the Making, Styles tonight knocks back the sentiment. Styles is still close with his father, and served as best man to his mom when she remarried a few years ago. “Since I’ve been 10,” he reflects, “it’s kind of felt STADIUM like – protect Mom at KILLER all costs. . . . My mom With One D at Milwaukee’s is very strong. She has Miller Park the greatest heart. [Her in 2015 house in Cheshire] is where I want to go when I want to spend some time.” In his early teens, Styles joined some school friends as the singer in a mostlycovers band, White Eskimo. “We wrote a couple of songs,” he remembers. “One was called ‘Gone in a Week.’ It was about luggage. ‘I’ll be gone in a week or two/Trying to find myself someplace new/I don’t need any jackets or shoes/The only luggage I need is you.’ ” He laughs. “I was like, ‘Sick.’” It was his mother who suggested he try out for the U.K. singing competition The X Factor to compete in the solo “Boy” category. Styles sang Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” The unforgiving reaction from one of the judges, Louis Walsh, is now infamous. Watching the video today is to watch young Harry’s cheery disposition take a hot bullet. “In that instant,” he says, “you’re in the whirlwind. You don’t really know what’s happening; you’re just a kid on the show. You don’t even know you’re good at anything. I’d gone because my mum told me I |

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Harry Styles was good from singing in the car...but your mum tells you things to make you feel good, so you take it with a pinch of salt. I didn’t really know what I was expecting when I went on there.” Styles didn’t advance in the competition, but Simon Cowell, the show’s creator, sensed a crowd favorite. He put Styles together with four others who’d failed to advance in the same category, and united the members of One D in a musical shotgun marriage. The marriage worked. And worked. And worked.


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GROWN UP ALL RIGHT (1) Styles in Jamaica. He recorded much of his album there, turning the studio complex into a Caribbean version of Big Pink. (2) At age three. (3) With Taylor Swift in Central Park, 2012. (4) One Direction in 2010.

mattress in an attic. The only other bit of house-dressing was the acoustic guitar that would rattle into the Winstons’ bedroom. While fans gathered at the empty house where he didn’t live, Styles lived incognito with a couple 12 years his senior. The Winstons’ Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, with a strong family emphasis, helped keep him sane.


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ou won der how a young musician might find his way here, to these lofty peaks, with his head still attached to his shoulders. No sex tapes, no TMZ meltdowns, no tell-all books written by the rehab nanny? In a world where one messy scandal can get you five seasons of a hit reality show . . . how did Harry Styles slip through the juggernaut? “Family,” answers Ben Winston. “It comes from his mom, Anne. She brought him and his sister up incredibly well. Harry would choose boring over exciting.... There is more chance of me going to Mars next week than there is of Harry having some sort of addiction.” We’re in Television City, Hollywood. Winston, 35, the Emmy-winning executive producer of The Late Late Show With James Corden, abandons his desk and retreats to a nearby sofa to discuss his good friend. More than a friend, Styles became an unlikely family member – after he became perhaps the world’s most surprising houseguest. Their friendship was forged in the early stages of One D’s success, when the band debuted on The X Factor. Winston, then a filmmaker and production partner with Corden, asked for a meeting, and instantly hit it off with the group. He became a friendly mentor to Styles, though the friend4 ship was soon tested. Styles had just moved out of his family home in Cheshire, an inconvenient three hours north of London. He found a home he liked near the Winstons in Hampstead Heath. The new house needed two weeks of work. Styles asked if he could briefly move in with Winston and his wife, Meredith. “She agreed,” Winston says, “but only for two weeks.” Styles parked his mattress in the Winstons’ attic. “Two weeks later and he hadn’t bought his house yet,” continues Winston. “It wasn’t going through. Then he said, ‘I’m going to stay until Christmas, if you don’t mind.’ Then Christmas came, and. . .” For the next 20 months, one of the most desired stars on the planet slept on a small

“Those 20 months were when they went from being on a reality show, X Factor, to being the biggest-selling artists in the world,” recalls Winston. “That period of time, he was living with us in the most mundane suburban situation. No one ever found out, really. Even when we went out for a meal, it’s such a sweet family neighborhood, no one dreamed it was actually him. But he made our house a home. And when he moved out, we were gutted.” Styles jauntily appears at the Late Late office. He’s clearly a regular visitor, and he and Winston have a brotherly shorthand. “Leaving Saturday?” asks Winston. “Yeah, gotta buy a cactus for my friend’s birthday,” says Styles. “My dad might be on your flight,” says Winston. “The 8:50? That’d be sick.” Winston continues the tales from the attic. “So we had this joke. Meri and I would like to see the girls that you would come back with to the house. That was al-

him with a face that says: My kids love this guy! I ask Styles what he hears most from the parents of young fans. “They say, ‘I see your cardboard face every fucking day.’” He laughs. “I think they want me to apologize.” The subject today is relationships. While Styles says he still feels like a newcomer to all that, a handful of love affairs have deeply affected him. The images and stolen moments tumble extravagantly through the new songs: And promises are broken like a stitch is. . . . I got splinters in my knuckles crawling ’cross the floor/Couldn’t take you home to mother in a skirt that short/But I think that’s what I like about it.. . . I see you gave him my old T-shirt, more of what was once mine.... That black notebook, you sense, is filled with this stuff. “My first proper girlfriend,” he remembers, “used to have one of those laughs. There was also a little bit of mystery with her because she didn’t go to our school. I just worshipped the ground she walked on. And she knew, probably to a fault, a little.

STYLES IS AWARE AT LEAST TWO OF SWIFT’S songs are presumed to be about him. “She’s so good, [those songs are] bloody everywhere.” ways what we enjoyed, because we’d be in bed like an old couple. We’d have our spot cream on our faces and the door would go off. The stairwell was right outside our door, so we’d wait to see if Harry was coming home alone or with people.” “I was alone,” notes Styles. “I was scared of Meri.” “He wasn’t always alone,” corrects Winston, “but it was exciting seeing the array of A-listers that would come up and sleep in the attic. Or he’d come and lounge with us. We’d never discuss business. He would act as if he hadn’t come back from playing to 80,000 people three nights in a row in Rio de Janeiro.”


et’s go to the beach,” says Styles, pulling the Range Rover onto a fogsoa ked Pacif ic Coa st Highway. Last night was his tequila-fueled birthday party, filled with friends and karaoke and a surprise drop-in from Adele. He’s now officially 23. “And not too hung over,” he notes. Styles finds a spot at a sushi place up the coast. As he passes through the busy dining room, a businessman turns, recognizing

M a y 4 , 2 017

That was a tough one. I was 15. “She used to live an hour and a half away on the train, and I worked in a bakery for three years. I’d finish on Saturdays at 4:30 and it was a 4:42 train, and if I missed it there wasn’t one for another hour or two. So I’d finish and sprint to the train station. Spent 70 percent of my wages on train tickets. Later, I’d remember her perfume. Little things. I smell that perfume all the time. I’ll be in a lift or a reception and say to someone, ‘A lien, right?’ And sometimes they’re impressed and sometimes they’re a little creeped out. ‘Stop smelling me.’” If Styles hadn’t yet adapted to global social-media attention, he was tested in 2012, when he met Taylor Swift at an awards show. Their second date, a walk in Central Park, was caught by paparazzi. Suddenly the couple were global news. They broke up the next month, reportedly after a rocky Caribbean vacation; the romance was said to have ended with at least one broken heart. The relationship is a subject he’s famously avoided discussing. “I gotta pee first. This might be a long one,” he says. He rises to head to the bathroom, then adds, “Actually, you can say, ‘He went for a pee and never came back.’ ”

He returns a couple of minutes later. “Thought I’d let you stew for a while,” he says, laughing, then takes a gulp of green juice. He was surprised, he says, when photos from Central Park rocketed around the world. “When I see photos from that day,” he says, “I think: Relationships are hard, at any age. And adding in that you don’t really understand exactly how it works when you’re 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn’t make it easier. I mean, you’re a little bit awkward to begin with. You’re on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure. But at the heart of it – I just wanted it to be a normal date.” He’s well aware that at least two of Swift’s songs – “Out of the Woods” and “Style” – are considered to be about their romance. (“You’ve got that long hair slicked back, white T-shirt,” she sang in “Style.”) “I mean, I don’t know if they’re about me or not. . . .” he says, attempting gallant discretion, “but the issue is, she’s so good, they’re bloody everywhere.” He smiles. “I write from my experiences; everyone does that. I’m lucky if everything [we went through] helped create those songs. That’s what hits your heart. That’s the stuff that’s hardest to say, and it’s the stuff I talk least about. That’s the part that’s about the two people. I’m never going to tell anybody everything.” (Fans wondered whether “Perfect,” a song Styles co-wrote for One Direction, might have been about Swift: “And if you like cameras flashing every time we go out/And if you’re looking for someone to write your breakup songs about/Baby, I’m perfect.”) Was he able to tell her that he admired the songs? “Yes and no,” he says after a long pause. “She doesn’t need me to tell her they’re great. They’re great songs. . . . It’s the most amazing unspoken dialogue ever.” Is there anything he’d want to say to Swift today? “Maybe this is where you write down that I left!” He laughs, and looks off. “I don’t know,” he finally says. “Certain things don’t work out. There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong. In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You’re celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than ‘this didn’t work out, and that’s bad.’ And if you run into that person, maybe it’s awkward, maybe you have to get drunk . . . but you shared something. Meeting someone new, sharing those experiences, it’s the best shit ever. So thank you.” He notes a more recent relationship, possibly over now, but significant for the past few years. (Styles has often been spotted with Kendall Jenner, but he won’t confirm that’s who he’s talking about.) “She’s a huge part of the album,” says Styles. “Sometimes you want to tip the hat, and [Cont. on 80] |

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Š 2017 Levi Strauss & Co.

L E V I .C O M

C E L E B R AT I N G 5 0 Y E A R S O F M U S I C & S T Y L E



BURNING FOR MORE Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

50 THE



This list was born out of some pretty serious arguments. Was Bruce Springsteen better in 1975 or 1978? When did Kanye hit his stride? Which was more awesome, ÒThe Joshua TreeÓ or ÒZoo TVÓ? The concerts and tours that made the final cut weren't just huge spectacles, they deepened the power of rock & roll itself Ð from Neil Young thrashing out 20-minute jams with Crazy Horse to BeyoncŽ turning stadium glitz into a personal outpouring. ÒYou're almost levitating on the energy from the audience,Ó says Keith Richards. ÒAnd I miss it when I'm not doing it.Ó Here are the people who've done it best. 31



Brown confers with Boston Mayor Kevin White (right) and Councilman Thomas Atkins backstage at Boston Garden, 1968.


32 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |


I thought, ‘My God, this is like Buddy Guy on acid.’


on seeing Hendrix perform

¥ ON APRIL 4TH, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. In the aftermath, America burned. There were riots in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Chicago; Kansas City, Missouri, and other cities. In Boston, city leaders expected more violence to come. Amid this tension, James Brown, the most explosive African-American musician of the era, pulled off a miracle. Brown and his band were booked to play Boston Garden on April 5th. The city considered canceling all public events that night, but the concert’s promoter, local City Councilman Thomas Atkins, convinced

Mayor Kevin White that calling off a show of that magnitude might lead to even more anger and violence. “If [his] concert had not occurred,” recalled local radio DJ James “Early” Bird, “we would have had the biggest problem in the history of Boston since the Tea Party.” Frustrating to Brown was the decision to televise the show, a way of keeping people out of the streets that would also drive down ticket sales. “But he had an obligation to honor Dr. King,” says Brown’s saxophonist and bandleader Pee Wee Ellis, and after Brown obtained the fee he wanted, everything was set. M a y 4 , 2 017


¥ JIMI HENDRIXÕS 1967 debut album, Are You Experienced, established his genius. The 200-some shows he played to support the album assured his legend. Backed by his ecstatically indulgent English rhythm section – bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell – Hendrix did nothing short of liberate the electric guitar, turning each show into a pyrotechnic exploration. “I thought, ‘My God, this is like Buddy Guy on acid,’ ” Eric Clapton later recalled. For the U.S., the coming-out party was the Monterey Pop Festival, where Hendrix set his guitar ablaze, terrifying the fire marshal while leaving the crowd spellbound. As the Experience toured that year, they played alongside Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens in every type of venue, from theaters to biker bars. “We also did a graduation ball in Paris in March 1967, a really plush place,” Mitchell recalled. “There was an oompah band on before us, and they would not leave the stage. I remember one of our roadies, in a final act of desperation, pushing the trombonist’s slide back into his mouth – blood and teeth everywhere.” When the shows went right, however, Hendrix was a tour de force. His sense of showmanship went back to his years as a sideman with Little Richard; dressed in radiant psychedelic frills, he banged the neck of his guitar, bit its strings and played it behind his head. “With Jimi, it was a theater piece,” Soft Machine drummer and onetime Hendrix tourmate Robert Wyatt once observed. “The drama, the pace, the buildups and drops.” The peak Summer of Love moment came in early June, when the Experience played London. With the Beatles in the crowd, Hendrix opened with the title track from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been released just two days earlier. “1967 was the best year of my life,” he declared later. “I just wanted to play KORY GROW and play.”


“The show went on just as it had in all the other places we had played,” says trombone player Fred Wesley. “It was a regular show.” Of course, in 1968, the “regular show” meant a display of raw energy and dynamic power unlike anything else in music. Dressed in a black suit, hair in a tight pompadour, Brown moved with lightning quickness, his screams rattling the rafters, as he drove the band through his hits. They did “I Got You (I Feel Good)” in a double-time blur, and “Cold Sweat” featured an incredible solo showcase for “funky drummer” Clyde Stubblefield. Still, Wesley, who had only recently become a part of Brown’s band, remembers a palpable sense of fear among the band members, and tension in the arena: “We didn’t know if there was a war against black people, or if a race war was happening. As we got to the stage, we were still wary about what might happen.” But what ended up impressing him most was what amazed him about James Brown every night: his ability to hold and command a crowd. As the set reached its climax during Brown’s dramatic “cape act,” young fans began rushing the stage, and white police officers ran in to restore order. Shoving ensued, and the moment of mayhem many had anticipated seemed to have finally arrived. But Brown quickly interceded. “You’re not being fair to yourself and me or your race,” he told the crowd. “Now, are we together, or we ain’t?” Turning to Stubblefield, he ordered, “Hit the thing, man,” and the band launched into a furious version of “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me).” Brown was even joined onstage by Mayor White, whom he announced as a “swinging cat.” Brown exited the stage shaking hands with the people up front, as much like a political leader as a soul star. In the weeks to come, requests for Brown to appear elsewhere poured in, including one to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak to rioters. In August that year, he’d release his monumental message record, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.” “I was able to speak to the country during the crisis,” he later said, “and that was one of the things that meant the most to me.” Almost 50 years later, Ellis is still moved by the moment. “I’m proud to have been part of that,” he says. “I’m pleased that it came off JON DOLAN the way that it did.” M a y 4 , 2 017


Maybe the best live LP ever: Brown’s 1962 set runs from raw heartache to breakneck soul, blasting through a nine-song medley along the way. A mix of precision and energy few, if any, artists matched onstage.

Love, Power, Peace

Joplin at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, 1968



¥ LIKE SO MUCH of Janis Joplin’s career, the tour to support Cheap

Thrills, her 1968 album with Big Brother and the Holding Company, was a triumph wrought from chaos. On the eve of the tour, the singer announced she was leaving the band, leading to screaming fights with some of the musicians. Yet that very tension – combined with grueling album sessions that tightened what, as drummer Dave Getz admits, “wasn’t a tight band” – made for a riveting farewell. The combination of her wild-child rasp and Big Brother’s wailing blues rock proved transformative. “By the end of ’68,” says Getz, “I don’t think DAVID BROWNE there was a singer in rock & roll who could touch her.”


Live in Paris in 1971, at the height of his funk powers.

Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68





Recorded the month he released “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

¥ ÒELVIS WAS HARDLY ever nervous,” says drummer D.J. Fontana, remembering the NBC special that relaunched Presley’s career after years in Hollywood. “But he was then.” The highlight: an intimate sit-down set with his band, Fontana and guitarist Scotty Moore, that was almost like catching Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride back in 1954. “Performing with Elvis was amazing,” remembers Darlene Love, who sang backup for Presley on the show, “because we didn’t really know what to expect K.G. from him.”



¥ ERIC CLAPTON ended Cream in 1968 after only two years, burned out and sick of keeping the peace between bandmates Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. But even as they were breaking up, Cream pushed the boundaries. “It had nothing to do with lyrics or ideas,” said Clapton. “It was much deeper, purely musical.” At Madison Square Garden, they played a wild, nearly 20-minute “Spoonful.” At San Francisco’s Fillmore, they played under the venue’s psychedelic light shows as Clapton, Baker and Bruce soloed simultaneously. As Roger Waters, who saw them at the time, put it, “It was an astounding K.G. sight and an explosive sound.” |

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Cash and June Carter Cash at San Quentin, 1969

FEBRUARY 24, 1969


JOHNNY CASH ¥ ÒI REMEMBER walking through two sets of iron gates, and when I heard them close, I thought, ‘Man, I hope we get back out of here,’ ” Johnny Cash’s guitarist Bob Wootton recalls of his visit to San Quentin prison on February 24th, 1969. San Quentin was (and remains) California’s oldest prison, as well as the largest deathrow facility in the country. That day, as Cash stood onstage in his usual black suit, he was greeted by a sight that might have frightened a different performer: 2,000 hollering, charged-up inmates. But Cash, who always felt a special connection to prisoners, seemed to realize the gravity of the moment. “John was very solemn that day,” Wootton says. “We all were. It reminds you how much you take for granted. John connected with [the prisoners] in a way I never saw him connect with another audience.” Cash had played prisons before – including an earlier San Quentin gig and, famously, California’s Folsom Prison. His show at San Quentin in 1969 was a full-on revue featuring the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers and Carl Perkins, and was shot for British TV. He performed with steely intensity, when he wasn’t cracking jokes to his audience. In a sense, he became one of them. Cash treated his set list more as a guide than as a hard-and-fast program, but ended up catering to the inmates with songs like “Starkville 34 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

City Jail” and Bob Dylan’s “Wanted Man.” Cash also wrote a song for the occasion – the twangy, brooding “San Quentin.” Its first line – “San Quentin, you’ve been livin’ hell to me” – prompted hooting and cheering from the crowd. “One more time!” they called out. “All right,” Cash said. “Hey, before we do it, though, if any of the guards are still speakin’ to me, can I have a glass of water?” The crowd laughed, then booed the guard. One of the show’s standout moments was “A Boy Named Sue,” which made its world premiere before everyone in the prison, including the band. “I didn’t even know he had the song,” drummer W.S. Holland says with a laugh. “Back then, we didn’t have monitors and couldn’t hear all that much onstage. John just started doing it. The first time I actually heard the song was [later] in the studio.” “A Boy Named Sue” became a Number One country single and crossed over to the pop charts, clearing a path for greater success, much to Cash’s amusement. “I’ve always thought it was ironic that it was a prison concert, with me and the convicts getting along just as fellow rebels, outsiders and miscreants should,” he wrote in his 1997 autobiography, “that pumped up my marketability to the point where ABC thought I was respectable enough to have a weekly KORY GROW network TV show.”

MORE LIVE CASH At Folsom Prison 1968

His most legendary jailhouse gig. The title track became a Number One hit.

The Johnny Cash Show 1970

Lushly orchestrated gospel and story-songs, named after his ABC variety show.

At Madison Square Garden 2002

A wild 1969 set, featuring guests the Carter Family and the Statler Brothers.

¥ THE ROLLING STONESÕ return to America in 1969, after three years away – a period that included Beggars Banquet and the death of guitarist Brian Jones – was what critic Robert Christgau described as “history’s first mythic rock & roll tour.” But on the 17-date spin through the States, time and again they were upstaged by their handpicked opening act, old friends Ike and Tina Turner and their combustible R&B revue. The Stones met Ike and Tina among Phil Spector’s orbit in England. “I’d always see Mick in the wings,” Tina remembered of performances in the mid-Sixties. “I’d come out and watch him occasionally; they’d play music and Mick would beat the tambourine. He wasn’t dancing. And lo and behold, when he came to America, he was doing everything!” Jagger later admitted he “learned a lot of things from Tina.” In the U.S., Ike and Tina won over a new audience with wild, sweatdrenched covers of the new rock & roll canon, including a brassy burst through the Beatles’ “Come Together” (“I said to Ike,” recalled Tina, “ ‘Please, please let me do that song onstage’ ”). They spun through Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and a high-octane version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” that, by 1971, would become their biggest hit. Their take on Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” garnered its share of attention too, thanks to an orgasmic bridge that eventually got even raunchier. “I don’t think it can go any further,” Tina said in 1971, “because, as they say in New York, it’s getting pornographic.” At Madison Square Garden, Joplin herself stopped by to assist on “Land of 1,000 Dances.” By the tour’s end, writers couldn’t control their enthusiasm. “Vogue said it best,” said Tina. “ ‘They came to see Mick Jagger, but they saw Ike and Tina, and they’ve been comin’ ever since.’ ” CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

M a y 4 , 2 017



Turner in 1969


LED ZEPPELIN ¥ BEFORE THE PRIVATE planes, mountains of cocaine and allegations of black magic, Led Zeppelin were four blokes tearing a path through America for the first time. They hit the U.S. in late December 1968, just before their debut LP hit shelves. “I remember pulling up to a theater and the marquee said, ‘Vanilla Fudge, Taj Mahal and support,’ ” Robert Plant said in 2005. “I thought, ‘Wow, here we are: support!’” Everyone knew their name soon enough. A month in, they unleashed a four-hour set at the Boston Tea Party. “We’d played our usual one-hour set, using all the material from the first album,” John Paul Jones said. “The audience just wouldn’t let us offstage.” Over 168 shows that year, as they unveiled new songs like “Whole Lotta Love,” Zep’s live fury and future promise came into view. “This group could become one of the biggest bands in history,” Jones said. “I hope we ANDY GREENE don’t blow it.”



¥ WHEN BLACK SABBATH landed at JFK Airport for their first U.S. tour, Ozzy Osbourne scrawled “Satanist” as his religion on the immigration form. Many who saw their shows – opening for the Faces, Alice Cooper and the James Gang – didn’t know what to make of the shaggy Brits. A turning point came at New York’s Fillmore East. “I tore my floor tom off the riser and threw it at the audience,” says drummer Bill Ward. “I was like, ‘Fucking move! Do something!’ Soon everyone was headbanging.” Relentless touring in Europe had turned Sabbath into a brutal assault force. “It was primal,” says Ward of the tour. “There’s a lower self that went onstage, and it was just dynamite.” A.G. M a y 4 , 2 017 |

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THE WHO ¥ AFTER 1969Õs rock opera Tommy, the Who wanted to return to their

raw roots with a live album. Pete Townshend hated the recordings they made on their U.S. tour so much he threw them onto a bonfire. But everything clicked back home in England, in front of 2,000 ravenous fans at the University of Leeds, where the band tore through 38 songs, including a nearly 15-minute “My Generation.” Townshend later called it “the greatest audience we’ve ever played to.” ANDY GREENE 36 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |


NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE ¥ IN EARLY 1970, Neil Young had finally become a star thanks to the huge success of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. During a quick break from that band and from recording his third solo LP, After the Gold Rush, Young decided to introduce his new fans to his other band, Crazy Horse – whose garage-rock thrash sounded the complete opposite of CSNY – on a run of clubs, theaters and the occasional junior-college auditorium. “When Neil plays with Crazy Horse, he goes into this other place and plays deep from inside,” says drummer Ralph Molina. “He becomes Neil Young, the real Neil Young.” It was a sound no one had heard before. While other early jam bands like the Allman Brothers played with virtuosic professionalism, Crazy Horse produced raw chaos. Each night began with a brief solo acoustic set before Crazy Horse came onstage. Songs like “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” sometimes stretched to nearly 20 minutes, Young trading unhinged solos with guitarist Danny Whitten. “Danny had a strong musical presence, probably just as strong as Neil,” says bassist Billy Talbot. “We started doing songs longer, which Neil had never done before.” In March, Bill Graham booked them at the Fillmore East for four shows in two nights, where they shared a bill with Miles Davis and the Steve Miller Band. Each night, Whitten sang “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown,” a song about scoring heroin, which he’d started using heavily around this time. One night backstage, Young wrote down the phrase “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done” on a sheet of paper. Within two years, Whitten was dead, and Young’s song about him, “The Needle and the Damage Done,” would appear on Harvest, the bestselling album of 1972. “It was such a loss,” said Young. “[It taught me] you can’t count on things. You just can’t take things for granted. Anything A.G. could go at any time.” M a y 4 , 2 017


Townshend in 1970

Keurig, K-Cup, Keurig Hot, and K Logo are trademarks of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Used with permission.

Elton in L.A., 1970



¥ WHEN ELTON JOHN took the stage at Los Angeles’ Troubadour for the first night of his six-date residency, he was a little-known 23-year-old pop singer with thick glasses and greasy hair who had only recently changed his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight. When the show was over, Elton was a sensation. The stakes couldn’t have been higher: His debut LP, which had come out that spring, wasn’t selling. After what he called a “crisis meeting” with his label, it sent him to the States. The label made sure to pack the 300-capacity club with big names like David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. “The second night, Leon Russell was in the front row, but I didn’t see him until the last number,” Elton recalled. “Thank God I didn’t, because at that time I slept and drank Leon Russell.” Neil Diamond introduced Elton. “I’m like the rest of you,” he said. 38 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

“I’m here because of having listened to Elton John’s album.” But those who had heard his album had no idea what they were in for: a poetic singer-songwriter with the flamboyance of a rock star. Album tracks like “Take Me to the Pilot” and “Sixty Years On” were played with a punklike energy, Elton falling to his knees like Jerry Lee Lewis and knocking the piano bench over. The set also mixed in standards like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Honky Tonk Women.” And the rapturous reception he received encouraged him to experiment with even more adventurous stagecraft. “He seemed like a very quiet, subdued person,” says drummer Nigel Olsson. “All of a sudden, in front of an American audience, he started wearing Mickey Mouse ears and jumping up and down. That’s where all the strange gear started.” Unlike Elton’s debut album, which was

Before the Troubadour concerts, Elton and his record label were in crisis mode. After the shows, he was the fastest-rising star in America.

packed with lush strings, harp and a synthesizer, he performed that night accompanied only by Olsson and bassist Dee Murray. “We just made a lot of noise,” Murray told Rolling Stone in 1987. “It was new. Elton was experimenting. Plus, we had to make up for the orchestra. We just socked it to them.” Elton played five more nights as word started to spread around town: “His music is so staggeringly original,” Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote. In the coming weeks, “Your Song” began climbing the charts, eventually hitting Number Eight in January 1971. Forty-seven years later, Elton still looks back fondly on that first trip to America. “It was just all systems go,” he says. “Nothing was impossible. You’re working on adrenaline and the sheer fact that you’re a success. I still love what I do, and I’m 70 years old. ANDY GREENE I love it even more.” M a y 4 , 2 017


AUGUST 25-30, 1970

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¥ WHEN PROMOTER Bill Graham booked the Queen of Soul for his San Francisco venue for three nights in March 1971, no one was certain the matchup would work, including Aretha Franklin herself. “I wasn’t sure how the hippies reacted to me,” she said. As Franklin’s drummer Bernard Purdie recalls, “She’d been doing what you’d call Vegas-type shows. But this was a whole different audience.” No one needed to worry. With saxman King Curtis leading a band that included Billy Preston on organ, Franklin remade pop and rock classics in her own image – turning Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” into call-and-response gospel and reworking “Eleanor Rigby” as a funky stomp. The weekend of shows (portions of which were released a few months later as Live at Fillmore West) had an appropriately glorious finale: On the last night, Franklin pulled Ray Charles out of the crowd. Though they’d just met that day, the two traded piano and vocal parts on an epic 19-minute version of “Spirit in the Dark.” “She turned the thing into church,” Charles said later. “I mean, she’s on fire.” DAVID BROWNE Franklin and Ray Charles in 1971

B.B. King, 1971

SEPTEMBER 10, 1970

B.B. KING COOK COUNTY JAIL ¥ B.B. KING WAS playing a regular club gig on Chicago’s Rush Street in the late Sixties when he was invited to do a show at the local Cook County Jail. “I knew the inmates would enjoy it,” said warden Clarence English. “And that would be something they’d be beholden to us. . . . If you give extra ice cream or let them stay up late at night, [they] don’t fight and destroy each other.” King’s new manager, Sid Seidenberg – who was helping King score a career resurgence by booking him at venues like the Fillmore West – saw an opportunity. He told King to take the gig, and invited press and a recording engineer for a future live album (Johnny Cash had released the successful At Folsom Prison two years earlier). But what began as a commercial move became something much deeper. “I couldn’t help but feel the oppression,” King said later. “My heart was heavy with feeling for the guys behind bars.” With a full big band behind him, King belted burning takes on “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “How Blue Can You Get?” with a fury the loud assembly evidently connected with. The inmates booed when he took the stage, but by the end they were hypnotized. The show was released on 1971’s Live at Cook County Jail, a document of an electric-blues master at the top of his game. “There were tears in people’s eyes,” English recalled. “In mine, WILL HERMES too.” M a y 4 , 2 017



ON NEWSSTANDS NOW Also available at

Duane Allman, 1971


MARCH 11-13, 1971

DECEMBER 28-31, 1971




¥ THE ALLMANS were still young, hungry Georgia rockers when they booked three nights at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East in New York in early 1971 with the idea of recording a live album. “My brother always believed a live album was what the Brothers needed to do, and the record company finally agreed,” Gregg Allman recalled. “The Fillmore was just the logical choice. I don’t think we even discussed another venue.” The LP they made there, At Fillmore East, became their defining statement. The Allmans were initially slotted into a bill headlined by Johnny Winter. But they came out guns blazing the first night, and when the hall emptied out after their set, they were promoted to headliner. With the band order duly shuffled, the Allmans had time to stretch out on spectacular journeys – “On those long jams, you climbed in and there was no tomorrow, no yesterday,” said drummer Butch Trucks. The gigs were hardly trouble-free. On the last night, a bomb scare delayed the start of the second show until the wee hours (“Good mornin’, everybody!” someone announced before “Statesboro Blues”). That early-a.m. set ended up becoming the keeper: “Whipping Post” sprawled over gorgeous melodic terrain for 23 minutes; “Mountain Jam” ascended for more than a half-hour. Atlantic Records engineer Tom Dowd oversaw the taping; unlike most live albums, nothing needed to be redone in the studio besides a few vocal overdubs. The LP went gold on October 25th, four days before guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. “It’s the best-sounding live album ever,” said the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. “It’s WILL HERMES just fuckin’ awesome.” M a y 4 , 2 017


One of Duane Allman’s most magnificent shows: See the 11-minute-plus “Blue Sky.”

Cow Palace, San Francisco DECEMBER 31, 1973

Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann and Boz Scaggs sit in on New Year’s jam that starts with “Whipping Post,” then goes jukeboxing.

Beacon Theatre, NY OCTOBER 28, 2014

A four-hour farewell blowout at their adopted latter-day home base, ending in the a.m. on the anniversary of Duane’s death.

¥ THE BANDÕS 1978 farewell movie, The Last Waltz, is the greatest concert film of all time. But even that performance didn’t reach the heights of the Band’s four-night stand at New York’s Academy of Music at the end of 1971. The shows, which were released as a box set in 2013, captured the Band at their tightest and funkiest, injecting New Orleans R&B swagger into their harmonious folk rock. It was a period of high morale and expert musicianship for the sometimes volatile group, the result of a decade of hard touring, with Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan and finally on their own. “There was a spell that everybody was doing really, really good,” the Band’s Robbie Robertson told Rolling Stone in 2013. “It was a roll of the dice after that. You just didn’t know what condition somebody was going to show up in.” It was a moment the Band needed. Three years on from their groundbreaking debut, Music From Big Pink, their two most recent studio a lbums, Stage Fright and Cahoots, Levon had been greeted with Helm lukewarm rev iews. onstage in New Aiming for some fresh York, energy, Robertson re1971 cruited veteran New Orleans bandleader Allen Toussaint to put together a horn section for their holiday gigs at the Academy of Music. It almost didn’t work out. To ever yone’s hor ror, Toussaint’s briefcase full of horn arrangements was stolen on his way from New Orleans to the band’s Woodstock headquarters, where he was forced to rewrite the charts from memory. He wrote them in the wrong keys, and the Band had to relearn their songs in entirely new keys. Robertson recalled thinking, “We’re doomed.” That anxiety lifted when they took the stage. “A chill ran through me,” Robertson said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’m feeling some magic in the air here. . . .’ As soon as we kicked off the first song,” he added, “we weren’t even touching the ground.”

The group set the tone with a taut, funky cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It,” and gracefully moved through its canon. The Band played with intensified warmth on “Unfaithful Servant” and “Get Up Jake” and jittery energy on deep album cuts like “Smoke Signal.” “We only did it once or twice,” said Robertson. “Levon [Helm] did an amazing job on it.” They turned “Chest Fever” and “Rag Mama Rag” into the stuff of a Crescent City street party, and returned to their roadhouse roots on Chuck Willis’ 1958 deep cut “(I Don’t Want to) Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes.” The Band saved their biggest surprise for last. During their New Year’s Eve encore, they invited out their old friend Dylan, who had been out of the spotlight for years. Looking like his mid-Sixties self with aviators and a Telecaster, Dylan howled fiery takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Don’t Ya Tell Henry,” pausing only to talk through the arrangements. “We were being

a little bit bold,” said Robertson. (The horns didn’t accompany Dylan, though: “He looked over and saw us, jumped back from the microphone and glared over his shades,” says tuba player Howard Johnson. “I told everyone, ‘OK, let’s just get offstage.’ ”) Months later, highlights of those shows comprised the dazzling live double LP Rock of Ages, which critics immediately called one of the best live albums of the Seventies. For drummer Helm, it was simply “the most fun I ever had making a DAVID BROWNE Band record.” |

R ol l i n g S t o n e |




¥ MICK JAGGER has a clear memory of being onstage in the summer of 1972, singing “Love in Vain,” the Robert Johnson song the Rolling Stones had recently reworked into a soul ballad. Jagger still marvels at the live version – particularly Mick Taylor’s searing lead guitar, which slowly took over the song and culminated in a minute and a half of mournful, melodic virtuosity. “He was playing beautifully at this point,” says Jagger. “It was chilling. It was so sad and haunting. And the horns were really just subtly there. The beats and stops were usually perfect. That was one of my favorites.” The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their powers in the summer of 1972: Keith Richards was playing the most fearless rhythm guitar of his career; Taylor stretched out their music to improbable peaks; and Jagger stalked the stage, whipping his belt and perfecting his ability to turn music, as critic Robert Greenfield observed, into a psychodrama. It was the band’s first North American tour since Altamont, the disastrous, deadly California festival in December 1969. Shaken by that debacle and the death of Brian Jones, the band hunkered down in the studio, recording three masterpieces: 1969’s Let It Bleed, 1971’s Sticky Fingers and 1972’s Exile on Main Street. Their Sixties peers – the Beatles, Bob Dylan – were less prolific, withdrawing from public view. In their absence, the Stones had only grown in stature. “After 10 years of playing together, the Stones had somehow become the number-one attraction 44 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

in the world,” Greenfield wrote in his chronicle of the tour, A Journey Through America With the Rolling Stones. “The only great band of the Sixties still around in original form playing original rock & roll. . . . They were royalty.” Both Jagger and Richards remember the excitement they felt ahead of the eight-week run. If the prospect of getting back on the road weren’t enough, the opening act on tour was a 22-year-old Stevie Wonder, whom Jagger made a habit of watching side-stage. “It was exciting, the feeling of anticipation – getting back in touch with what it is we did,” says Richards. Adds Jagger, “We were trying to get out of the studio, out of the South of France, and Keith had all these drug problems – so it was kind of good to get out on the road.” The Stones’ office was overloaded with requests for tickets, priced at $6.50 (some fans sent in as many as 60 postcards each). A Dick Cavett TV special on the tour described the strange new phenomenon of scalping (plus the new concept of groupies). On opening night in Vancouver, 2,000 fans tried to force their way into the Pacific Coliseum, leaving 31 policemen injured – the first of several violent incidents. “That was in the day when people who didn’t have a ticket would show up,” says Jagger, “and be like, ‘OK, we’re here, we’re fucking going in.’ ” Unlike the 1969 tour – which featured slow, slogging rhythms – the band played at breakneck speed. “Keith was doing that,” says Jagger. “I’m not trying to blame him for any-

I got up and hit in the general direction of the light and busted the guy’s camera. Things escalated from there. Then the fucking FBI got involved.


thing. He kept starting it.” Says Richards, “That was probably trying to catch up with lost time.” Songs like “Street Fighting Man” ran several minutes longer than the studio versions as the band ripped away. “We were probably searching for the ending,” Richards jokes. For Richards, the highlight was playing the new songs from Exile on Main Street, recorded the previous summer. “Playing the Exile stuff for the first time was a real turn-on,” says Richards. After opening with “Brown Sugar,” the band tore through several Exile classics: “Rocks Off,” “Rip This Joint,” “Sweet Virginia.” Unlike later tours, Jagger hung around during Richards’ songs, howling away “Happy” into the same mic. “I always enjoyed doing that,” Richards says. There were also a few throwbacks, including a horn-fueled version of “Satisfaction,” and “Bye Bye Johnny,” a Chuck Berry song that the Stones had been doing since 1963. According to Richards, they picked the deep cut for its rhythm: “There’s an interesting reverse beat going on that always intrigued us.” On the road, the Stones encountered an older audience – one that ranged from about age 15 to 30. “There always used to be screamers, and they didn’t seem to worry much about the music,” Bill Wyman told Cavett. As a result, the band played with more focus. It helped that arena sound had improved: “Now you hear everything and you see everything, and there’s so much tension,” said Wyman. M a y 4 , 2 017




Jagger in Vancouver, 1972

Jagger and Richards in 1989

LET IT LOOSE: MORE GREAT STONES TOURS The Stones are the best live band in rock history, playing tours that combine spectacle with a sense of danger. Jagger reflects on five of their best

American Tour 1969 After years of controversy and the loss of Brian Jones, the band hit the road with a dark energy that perfectly captured the political upheaval of the time. It was the first arena tour of its kind, with a traveling, hanging sound system and lighting rig. “There was nothing to draw on,” says Jagger. “I always thought of that one as groundbreaking. It was the early days of doing arenas properly.”

ÔSome GirlsÕ Tour 1978 “That was fast and furious,” Jagger says of the tour, which lost the props and large band of the 1975 tour and saw the band channel punk energy in 25 mostly small venues, debuting new anthems like “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Respectable.” “It was a great tour,” says Jagger.

ÔSteel WheelsÕ Tour 1989 After seven years of fighting, the band returned for its first “megatour,” as Richards called it. The Stones played nearly 30 songs on a stadium stage that raised the bar for everyone else. “It was the biggest fun house,” Jagger says of the stage, which featured steam pipes, catwalks and a revolutionary video screen. “Just crazy big. When it was all smoking at night and we put the lights on it, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. No one had built anything like that before.”

Licks World Tour 2002-03 The band shook things up often by playing three shows in the same city: a stadium gig, an arena and a theater. Jagger liked the theater shows, where they returned to their R&B roots, including a devastating cover of O.V. Wright’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” “We hadn’t done theaters in a long time,” he says. “But it was so much fun.”

50 and Counting 2012-13 The band celebrated its 50th anniversary by playing its best in a decade. With fewer backing musicians, it broke out rarities like “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Around and Around.” “The idea was having three really ancient numbers to open with, and having this black-and-white look and feel to the whole thing,” Jagger said. The tour also included the return of Bill Wyman, who joined the band in London, and Mick Taylor, who came onstage every night to rip on “Midnight Rambler.”

46 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

For all the onstage professionalism, the backstage scene was as wild as any rock & roll tour before or since. The band traveled with the largest entourage in rock history up to that point – including a physician, label president Marshall Chess and a press corps Richards compared to a political campaign. The press included photographer Annie Leibovitz, and authors Terry Southern, Robert Greenfield, and Truman Capote, who reluctantly joined for a Rolling Stone cover story. “For him, it was a social occasion,” says Jagger, who recalls Capote saying he hated the fact that Jagger wore the same clothes every night. “He would’ve liked it better now – I have such a bigger wardrobe.” (Capote never wrote his piece, claiming it “didn’t interest me creatively.”) Jagger admits that the traveling party was “a bit distracting.” He had to watch his drug intake in order to perform. “I wasn’t on meth, out of my mind or anything,” Jagger says. “But I was having a lot of fun.” Richards’ favorite story “has got to be Bobby Keys and me nearly burning down the Playboy mansion,” he says. Staying at Hugh Hefner’s home, Richards and saxophonist Keys accidentally set fire to one of the bathrooms. “We were going through a doctor’s bag and we knocked over a candle,” says Richards. At the same time, Jagger remembers “all these dark moments” on the tour. On the morning of July 17th in Montreal, dynamite exploded beneath one of the band’s vans, destroying equipment. “It was kind of scary because it was during the separatist movement of Quebec,” says Jagger. “I mean, it wasn’t just some random guy trying to blow up a truck.” The show, remarkably, went on that night, but a riot ensued when 500 fans with counterfeit tickets were turned away. The following day, the band flew to a small airport in Rhode Island. As the entourage cleared customs, Richards took a nap on the side of a parked firetruck. He woke up to the flashing lights of a local newspaper photographer. “I just reacted,” Richards says. “I got up and hit in the general direction of the light and busted the guy’s camera. Things escalated from there. Then the fucking FBI got involved.” The photographer claimed he was assaulted, and Richards and Jagger were arrested and placed in a jail cell, while an unruly audience at Boston Garden waited. Fearing a riot, Boston Mayor Kevin White organized their release, and the band took the stage after midnight. “There was never a dull moment,” says Richards.

The offstage chaos was documented by the legendary photographer Robert Frank, who brought along a camera for a documentary that, as Jagger understood, would be “about playing and about music.” Instead, Cocksucker Blues was a cinéma vérité experiment full of lurid scenes: naked groupies having sex on an airplane, Jagger snorting cocaine, and groupie heroin use. The band blocked its release (though it became a popular bootleg). “[Robert] would initiate things,” says Jagger. “Most documentary filmmakers kind of get you to do things that you perhaps wouldn’t do if they weren’t there.” Jagger cites the famous scene where Richards and Keys threw a TV out of a Hyatt Hotel window: “Robert would probably say to Keith, ‘Keith, throw the TV out the window.’ They probably weren’t going to do that that morning.” But Richards disagrees. “Bobby Keys and I engineered that,” he says. “We called the cameraman ’round when we dismantled the TV. So that scene was directed by Bobby Keys and Keith fucking Richards.” The tour wrapped with four shows at Madison Square Garden. Though the Stones had played 48 shows in only 54 days, they didn’t hold back. The July 25th show featured a sentimental singalong of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and perhaps the fiercest “All Down the Line” ever played. “You almost feel like you’re levitating on the energy from the audience,” says Richards. “It’s a strange experience.” The tour ended the following night, on Jagger’s 29th birthday. Wonder joined the band for a raucous medley of “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and a revved-up, horn-fueled take on “Satisfaction” (Wonder said he wrote “Uptight” with “Satisfaction” in mind). A cake was rolled onstage, and the show ended with a pie fight among bandmates. The afterparty, thrown by Ahmet Ertegun, included Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan and Zsa Zsa Gabor. It was the end of an era. Afterward, Richards slid further into addiction, and was arrested on heroin and gun charges the next year. In 1974, after only five years, Taylor left the band to go solo. The Stones’ next North American tour, in 1975, featured stage props like a giant inflatable phallus, and little of the ragged charm of the 1972 tour. “There were no sort of guidelines,” Richards says. “You sort of made it up and you went along. It was a good feeling, that tour. A bit frenetic and a little blurry, like an old movie, you know? PATRICK DOYLE It was a bit jerky.” M a y 4 , 2 017




¥ OVER A two-month-long residency, the Patti Smith Group went from art project to formidable band – and lower Manhattan’s CBGB was well on the road to becoming one of the most famous rock clubs in the world. Much of the material that ended up on Smith’s debut, Horses, came to life at CB’s, with Smith improvising poetic chants as the band brutalized simple chord patterns. “CBGB was the ideal place to sound a clarion call,” Smith wrote. Television, meanwhile, had just begun emphasizing the guitar-weaving tapestries they would immortalize on Marquee Moon. Rock history was being made at a club with no dressing rooms and an incontinent dog in residence – and the musicians knew it. “I remember one night standing outside CBGB, in the doorway of the derelict hotel next door, smoking a joint,” says Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, “and realizing that this was the kind of gathering of psychic energies I’d always dreamed of when, say, I would read about the San Francisco scene WILL HERMES in 1966.”

1972-73 WORLD TOUR



¥ ÒI WANTED THE music to look like it sounded,” said David Bowie, who

reigned over the moonage daydream of his greatest tour as a crimson-haired, sparkly, makeup-slathered rock & roll space god. The music, thanks to the savage elegance of the Spiders From Mars, was even wilder, with an intense symbiosis developing between Bowie and chunky-toned guitarist Mick Ronson. “There was magic there,” says keyboardist Mike Garson. Ziggymania broke out across the world, ANDY GREENE and even as Bowie moved on, it never really stopped.



¥ IT TAKES an extraordinary band to top the studio versions of songs like “Domino” and “Cyprus Avenue,” but with the 10-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra, Van Morrison pulled it off night after night. With horns, strings and blazing jazz chops, the band was ready to “take the songs anywhere Van wanted to take them,” says guitarist John Platania. “Every performance of each song was different.” Morrison was, as usual, lost in the music, getting so into it that he gave himself backaches – the platform shoes he was favoring at the time probably didn’t help. He rarely addressed the crowd, and kept his band on its toes with subtle gestures 48 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

that sparked dynamic shifts worthy of James Brown. “He had these signals behind his back,” says Platania. “He would flash his hand and spread his fingers out. We knew instantly we had to bring it down and then build it up again.” Morrison was stretching out, toying with his phrasing, elongating syllables like a jazz singer. The band ended when the tour did – but it lives on in Morrison’s It’s Too Late to Stop Now, one of the most essential live albums of all time, recently released in a gloriously extended version. “We were sad to see it end,” says Platania. “But in those days, he would say stuff like, ‘The show doesn’t have to go on.’ ” DAVID BROWNE


Smith in New York, 1975



Bowie and Ronson in London, 1973

THE LYCEUM THEATRE, LONDON ¥ BOB MARLEY'S TWO concerts at the Lyceum Theatre in London in July 1975 were more than just musically transcendent shows: They were the triumphant peak of Marley’s first proper tour as a solo artist and would elevate him from cult act to international icon – in part thanks to Live!, a concert document from the shows that gave him his first international Top 40 hit, “No Woman, No Cry.” “Lyceum was magic,” recalls Marley’s friend Neville Garrick, the Wailers’ lighting designer and art director at the time. “It was an old theater, so the acoustics were proper....They took out all the seats, and people were going from the very first song.” Booked in a small room to drive up ticket demand, the Lyceum shows sold out in a day, and roughly 3,000 ticketless hopefuls mobbed the streets outside the venue on Marley’s first night there, along with a phalanx of cops. Some fans nevertheless managed to tear the fire doors off their hinges and rush in, packing the room tighter still, shoulder to shoulder. It was so hot, condensation was dripping from the ceiling, and roof hatches had to be opened to let air in. Marley appeared before the crowd like a prophet in a denim work shirt, dreadlocks bobbing, and few moments in pop are as spine-tingling as the opening of “No Woman, No Cry,” the audience chanting the chorus like a hymn before Marley had even sung a word. Recalled bassist Aston Barrett, “Everyone onstage [got] high from the feedback of the WILL HERMES people.” 50 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |



JULY 17-18, 1975


Marley in London, 1975

M a y 4 , 2 017



BOB DYLAN ROLLING THUNDER REVUE ¥ BOB DYLAN COULD have played arenas when he toured to support 1976’s Desire. Instead, true to form, he did the unexpected: He booked tiny theaters with just days’ notice, charged less than $9 per ticket and took along a gaggle of friends – including Roger McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Joan Baez. Dylan had started hanging around his old West Village haunts with buddies from his folkie days, and he wanted to take that nostalgic spirit on the road. “We all sing and sing and sing and laugh until we pass out,” Baez told Rolli ng Ston e. “For us, it makes no difference if we just play for 15 people or 15,000.” Backed by one of his best bands ever (including guitarist Mick Ronson), Dylan stretched out shows for as long as five hours – with help from McGuinn, Elliott and others, who would do their own sets and join his. New tracks from Desire were mixed with 1960s classics (“It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Just Like a Woman”) and covers (“Deportees”). The shows were full of raw, spontaneous intimacy: Dylan duetted with his ex-lover Baez, did scorched-earth versions of “Idiot Wind,” and pleaded for the release of jailed boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. As Rolling Thunder participant Allen Ginsberg said, “Having gone through his changes . . . Bob now has ANDY GREENE his powers together.”

Dylan in 1975

¥ ÒOUR SECOND COMING,Ó says Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart of the band’s 1977 North American tour. Everyone knew the Dead could jam out infinitely. But that year they were discovering something new: that tight, songful concision could transport a crowd just as easily. “We had a lot of new songs and wanted to get at ’em,” says singer and guitarist Bob Weir. “And the only way to get at the next song was to finish the one you were doing.” Ironically for a band that had little use or patience for studios, it would be recording sessions that strengthened its live approach. Terrapin Station, the group’s most recent LP, was recorded with Fleetwood Mac producer Keith Olsen, who’d helmed their self-titled 1975 breakthrough; he forced the Dead to prep and rehearse more than they ever had. “Going in with Keith and having him organize and arrange all this stuff,” says Weir, “that gave us a solidity.” The results 52 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

of Olsen’s whip-cracking became clear as soon as the Dead went back on the road – they tore into old favorites like “St. Stephen” and tried new combinations, like going from the fast-paced “Scarlet Begonias” into the churning “Fire on the Mountain,” and proved their newly honed chops could help sculpt jams such as the 10-minute “Terrapin Station.” “We felt like rock gods,” Weir says. It helped that the band was in relatively good shape physically as well. “Jerry was healthy,” says Hart. “That was a big thing.” The high point took place on May 8th at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, regarded by Deadheads as the band’s greatest show ever. In the end, the 1977 tour completely changed the Dead’s sense of connection with fans, and their own musical purpose. “That was an era where it started to creep up on us that people came to hear the songs,” says Weir. “It finally dawned on us: ‘Oh, that’s what it’s all about.’ ” DAVID BROWNE M a y 4 , 2 017



Johnny Ramone, Liverpool, May 1977


¥ THE RAMONES ARRIVED in England with something to prove. The punk

revolution had broken out in London in 1977, with the Sex Pistols getting wall-to-wall press and causing havoc. But no one in the nascent U.K. punk scene was ready for the precision-strike arrival of the Ramones. In his memoir, Johnny Ramone wrote that at a Pistols show on their first night in town in December ’77, “Johnny Rotten asked me what I thought of them, and I told him . . . they stunk.” Three days later, the Ramones unleashed a furious assault on the audience in Glasgow, opening with “Rockaway Beach” and not taking a break until 26 songs later. Playing to a punk-crazed English audience pushed the Ramones to play their most intense shows. The tour wrapped on New Year’s Eve at the Rainbow Theatre, their 148th show of the year. “Probably the best show the Ramones ever did,” said Johnny. Amazingly, Joey had been singing through incredible pain; he’d suffered third-degree burns on his neck when a makeshift humidifier exploded on him. Said Ramones co-manager Linda Stein, “[Johnny] came to me and said. . . ‘Put me in a wheelchair and get me on a ANDY GREENE plane before I go insane.’” He wanted to be sedated.

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CLASSIC LIVE PUNK LPS The Stooges Metallic KO 1976

Elvis Costello and the Attractions Live at the El Mocambo 1978

Minutemen Ballot Result 1987

¥ THE CAREER-DEFINING two-year stretch of shows that followed 1976’s Hotel California saw the Eagles become a stadium band. Yet in an era in which rock shows were growing bigger and more impersonal, the Eagles’ studio perfectionists, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, found a way to re-create the feel and detail of their albums onstage, with every harmony and guitar lick seamlessly in place decades before backing tapes and Auto-Tune made that process easier. Hits like “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Take It to the Limit” were given almost impossibly pristine treatment. The tour itself was chaotic; at one point, bassist Randy Meisner and Frey got into a fistfight when Frey called Meisner a “pussy.” But you wouldn’t have known it watching their sets. “Some critic said we used to go out onstage and loiter,” Henley said. “I think we accomplished a DAVID BROWNE great deal.” M a y 4 , 2 017



1977-78 U.S.TOUR

Springsteen airborne in Detroit, September 1978




¥ IT HAD BEEN three very long years since Born to Run made Bruce Springsteen a national star. A bitter lawsuit filed against his former manager in 1976 left him legally unable to enter a studio for two years before making Darkness on the Edge of Town. “Prove It All Night,” his new single, stalled at Number 33 on the charts. Anything radio-friendly, like “Fire” and “Because the Night,” was held off Darkness to maintain the starker atmosphere Springsteen wanted for his set of songs about the reality of everyday working life. To many, all of this was evidence that Springsteen was in decline. So he did the thing he could do better than almost anyone alive: He went on tour. “With the burden of proving I wasn’t a has-been at 28,” he wrote in his 2016 memoir, Born to Run, “I headed out on the road performing long, sweatdrenched rock shows featuring the new album.” Springsteen and the E Street Band played 115 shows across North America, the longest series of dates they would ever play in a single year. Even the soundchecks were grueling. “Literally, we would play ‘Thunder Road’ for a half-hour and Bruce would walk around and sit in every section and make sure the sound was as good as possible,” says drummer Max Weinberg. “Look, Bruce took his fun very seriously.” Not everyone thought it was so much fun. “I thought it was a little self-indulgent and a little bit silly,” says bassist Garry Tallent. “We would do four-hour soundchecks and then a threeand-a-half-hour show. We were younger then.” M a y 4 , 2 017

Sets featured the majority of the new album, a big chunk of Born to Run and favorites off the first two discs, like “Spirit in the Night” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight).” After so much time off, the band played with a stunning mix of pent-up energy and technical precision. “Anyone can be great on any given night,” says Weinberg. “To really be great every night takes a lot of willpower, a lot of dedication, a lot of self-confidence, a lot of respect for your audience – tremendous respect for the audience.” Live, the songs completely transformed from their recorded versions. For “Prove It All Night,” the band added a piano and guitar intro that built to a furious climax, and “Backstreets” developed an emotional spoken-word interlude about lost love that eventually morphed into “Drive All Night,” from The River. “Even at that point, the whole thing was ‘You have to see them live – you can’t go by the record,’ ” says Tallent. As the tour crisscrossed the nation, with five shows getting broadcast on the radio and quickly hitting the bootleg market, a new respect for the album took hold. “Night after night, we sent our listeners away, back to the recorded versions of this music,” Springsteen wrote in Born to Run, “newly able to hear their beauty and restrained power.” One particularly great show took place at the tiny Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. Opening with a ferocious cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and wrapping up three hours later with a wild “Twist

PROVING IT EVERY NIGHT Four decades of electrifying shows from an artist who never took a night off

ÔBorn to RunÕ Tour 1975 New E Streeters Steven Van Zandt, Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan helped Springsteen live up to the insane hype of Born to Run and bring its wall of sound to life night after night.

ÔGhost of Tom JoadÕ Tour 1995-97 Springsteen hit theaters armed with an acoustic guitar and delivered spare, powerful renditions of his songs. After a down period, the tour rebooted his entire career.

The E Street Reunion 1999-2000 Ten years after Springsteen fired his most famous band, they all came back together for an emotional tour. “We did a run at MSG that was so overthe-top,” says Weinberg. “Some of the best shows we ever did.”

ÔWorking on a DreamÕ Tour 2009 The final tour before the death of Clemons featured performances of Springsteen’s classic records, ending with Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the Big Man.

and Shout,” it became one of the most coveted bootlegs in rock history. “It was really hot,” says Weinberg. “Just sweltering. It was incredibly exciting. Then you just get on the bus and go to the next gig. It was like that about five nights a week with two days off.” Word of Springsteen’s glorious return prompted CBS Records to mount a huge billboard of his image on the Sunset Strip, advertising the album and tour but making no mention of the band. “It was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” Springsteen told a radio DJ. One night, Springsteen snuck up to the roof of a nearby building with Tallent and saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Armed with cans of black spray paint, Springsteen hoisted himself onto Clemons’ massive shoulders and wrote “Prove It All Night E Street” across the entire thing. “We didn’t deface it,” says Tallent with a laugh. “We corrected it. That was our way of letting people know to not expect the next coming of Christ. It’s just a rock & roll show.” Darkness on the Edge of Town still wasn’t a commercial hit by the end of the run, but critics across the country hailed the tour as the best of the year, and the album remained at the core of Springsteen’s set list for decades to come. “[They] are perhaps the purest distillation of what I wanted my rock & roll music to be about,” Springsteen wrote. “[On the last stand of the tour] an exploding firecracker tossed by an inebriated ‘fan’ opened up a small slash underneath my eye. A little blood’d been drawn, but we were back.” ANDY GREENE |

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THE CLASH ¥ THEY CALLED IT the Pearl Harbour Tour, and they opened each night with a slashing version of “I’m So Bored With the USA.” For an English punk band trying to break through in the States, it was an interesting marketing approach. “England’s becoming claustrophobic for us,” Joe Strummer told Rolling Stone. “I think touring America could be a new lease on life.” With a touring budget of just $30,000 from their record label (most of which they gave to opening act Bo Diddley), the Clash stormed the heartland and made converts wherever they went. During downtime on their tour bus, they watched a VHS copy of Star Wars over and over. They hit the Palladium in New York in February, blowing away a crowd that included Andy Warhol and Bruce Springsteen. “Every country has one thing in common, which is they all listen to shit music,” said co-leader Mick Jones. “We’re here to ANDY GREENE alleviate that.”


PINK FLOYD ¥ PINK FLOYD'S 1979 rock opera, The Wall, was their most ambitious album to date, and when they took it on the road the next year they knew a traditional stage show would simply not do it justice. Pushing the limits of concert technology, they built an actual wall during the first half of every show, then played the bulk of the second half behind it, obscured from the audience. “Not much spontaneity,” said drummer Nick Mason, “but we’re not known for our duckwalking and gyrating around onstage.” The logistics were so daunting that they staged it only 31 times across 16 months, hitting just four cities: Los Angeles; London; Dortmund, Germany; and Uniondale, New York. The most dramatic moment of the show happened near the end, when the wall came tumbling down. “The first couple of bricks would terrify people in the front rows,” said guitarist David Gilmour. “The audience would think they A.G. were going to be killed.” 58 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

ÔTHE WALLÕ TOUR: BY THE NUMBERS The 31-date tour was the most technically complex in rock at that point. Here’s a look at what went into it. Number of white fireproof, reinforced cardboard boxes that made up the wall:

340 Number of feet a hydraulic lift hoisted Gilmour into the air every night to play his “Comfortably Numb” solo on top of the wall:

33 Number of dollars the band earned from the entire tour, excluding keyboardist Richard Wright, who was fired during the making of the album and was brought on as a hired hand:


TALKING HEADS ¥ IT WAS AN image that defined Talking Heads for a generation of music fans – skinny, nervous David Byrne on the Speaking in Tongues tour, struggling to dance in a cartoonishly huge white suit. “What I realized years before,” Byrne says, “is I had to find my own way of moving that wasn’t a white rock guy trying to imitate black people, or bring some other kind of received visual or choreographic language into pop music. . . . I just thought, ‘No, no, you have to invent it from scratch.’ ” Since forming in the mid-Seventies, Talking Heads had gone from CBGB New Wavers to one of the biggest bands in America. For the tour to support 1983’s Speaking in Tongues, their most popular album to date, they reinvented themselves, growing from a quartet to a nine-piece funk mob that included P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, Brothers Johnson guitarist Alex Weir and vocalist Lynn Mabry. Byrne also took cues from the experimental visual-art world, projecting abstract slides onto a spare backdrop, creating a stark aesthetic to match the band’s driving, uncluttered funk. The suit was inspired in part by Japanese Noh theater. What emerged was arty danceparty transcendence. Byrne and drummer Chris Frantz recall the two-night run at New York’s Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in August as a highlight. “Madonna had just released her first record; she was walking around barefoot,” Frantz says. “I

JUNE 23, 1984


saw Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall off to the side of the stage – she was dancing, Mick wasn’t.” The Greek Theater in Berkeley the following month was a similar bacchanal. “We’d begun to get the Deadhead crowd,” Frantz says, laughing. In late 1983, the band decided to document the tour with a concert film, and teamed up with director Jonathan Demme (who would later win an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs). “We didn’t want any of the bullshit,” says Frantz of the band’s initial idea for Stop Making Sense. “We didn’t want the clichés. We didn’t want close-ups of people’s fingers while they’re doing a guitar solo. We wanted the camera to linger, so you could get to know the musicians a little bit.” Shot over three nights at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, Stop Making Sense may be the greatest concert movie. It begins with Byrne walking onto a deserted stage with a boombox, setting it down, pressing “play,” then reimagining “Psycho Killer” for acoustic guitar and 808 drum-machine beats. His bandmates and backing musicians join him incrementally, song by song. “It’s cut down,” Byrne notes, comparing the film to the two-hour shows, “but there were no other substantial changes.” The effect was so real, people actually got up and danced in movie theaters. “I’d never seen that before,” WILL HERMES Frantz says. “Or since.”


¥ IF ANYONE at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival didn’t already know Fela Kuti, they soon learned why he was one of the planet’s most electric artists. Before his biggest international crowd to date, Fela played big-band Afrobeat that owed as much to James Brown’s funk as to the high life of his native Nigeria. Fela managed just two songs in two hours – but the grooves were so intoxicating, no one minded. “The love the audience gave was fantastic,” recalls son Femi Kuti, who backed W.H. him on sax that day. He left a legend in his wake. M a y 4 , 2 017




Prince in Detroit, 1985



PRINCE ¥ ON EACH NIGHT of the Purple Rain tour, Prince and the Revolution huddled backstage for a prayer. “It was a meaningful ritual,” says bassist Mark Brown. “The crowds were so loud, and it was so crazy, that we needed each other because that was the only thing you had: each other for support.” With Prince’s movie Purple Rain catapulting the singer toward megastardom, the 98 shows he did in support of the soundtrack album were like Broadway productions. Prince began the show ascending from beneath the stage on a hydraulic lift, and went through five costume changes. “He had all these visual cues,” recalls keyboardist Lisa Coleman. “He’d throw a hankie into the air, and when the hankie hit the ground, that’s when we would stop.” At the Los Angeles Forum, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna joined Prince for the encore, which included a nearly half-hour-long version of “Purple Rain.” “He wanted to tower over everybody,” says keyboardist Matt Fink. “He was the Muhammad Ali of rock.” DAVID BROWNE M a y 4 , 2 017

¥ ÒTHERE WAS NO concept of charts and no concept of airplay,” says LL Cool J, describing the landscape for Run-DMC’s 1986 tour, which featured LL, the Beastie Boys, Whodini and others as openers. That underground status changed two months into the tour, when RunDMC had a breakout MTV hit with their Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way,” from their Raising Hell album. “Motherfuckers in the front row started looking like the Ramones and Cyndi Lauper,” says DMC of the new white fans who came to check out their shows. “We got a bunch of Madonnas asking for autographs.” DMC also noticed that cross-cultural appeal working the other way as a predominantly black audience embraced the tour’s beerspraying opening act, the Beastie Boys, then months away from releasing their debut LP, Licensed to Ill. “The Beasties were crazy,” recalls rapper Ecstasy of Whodini. “They created an illusion that they were happy-go-lucky and careless, but they were on top of their shit. They were the white Run-DMC.” Competition among the artists was fierce. “I wanted to chain-saw the audience,” says LL Cool J, who was 18 years old at the time. Toward the end of the tour, a riot at a show in Long Beach, California, provided fuel for negative media coverage. But Raising Hell’s positive legacy is undeniable. As DMC says today, “When Obama first got elected, all my white friends said, ‘That’s because of what RunDMC did.’ ” CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

Run and DMC (from left) in Amsterdam, 1987

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METALLICA ¥ IN 1988, METALLICA released their pivotal album . . . And Justice for All and went from thrash-metal renegades to mainstream stars. But when their manager suggested an arena tour to support the LP, the band wasn’t convinced. “I was like, ‘Seriously?’ ” drummer Lars Ulrich recalls. “We knew we could do L.A., New York, San Francisco, but the American heartland didn’t seem like a great idea. No band as extreme as ours had ever done a full arena tour. So we used Indianapolis as a yardstick. If we were cool there, we were cool almost anywhere. When the tickets went on sale in Indianapolis, we ended up doing 13,000 or 14,000, which in 1988 was an insane victory.” On the Damaged Justice Tour, Metallica learned just how many authenticity-starved headbangers were really out there. The band got the first taste of its transformative power in the summer of 1988 when it was booked onto the Monsters of Rock Tour, opening for Van Halen and Scorpions. At the L.A. Coliseum, fans responded to Metallica’s set by flinging their folding chairs at the stage to create a football-field-size mosh pit. “It was bonkers,” says bassist Jason Newsted, who had recently joined the band, replacing the late Cliff Burton. “For a kid coming off a farm and jumping into my favorite band, it was very dreamy. I didn’t sleep. Every day was another dream coming true.” He also got a lesson in how to conduct himself on the road. “I’d walk on the crew bus of a big band and there’s a pile of blow on the table in the front lounge,” Newsted recalls. “I look over there at my heroes, all red and swollen, and I’m like, ‘Guess what I’m not gonna do? That!’ ” The kickoff of the Damaged Justice Tour coincided with the success of Metallica’s anti-war-themed video for their new single, “One,” which quickly became an MTV hit. At the peak of bloated hair metal, Metallica were playing jagged seven-to-nine-minute-long thrash odysseys. But the crowds at their shows kept growing. “The kids know that at the end of the day there’s something very real and honest about what we do,” Ulrich told Rolling Stone in 1989. “You can’t KORY GROW take that away from us.” 62 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

Madonna in Tokyo, 1990

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MADONNA ¥ AS MADONNAÕS career was taking off in the mid-Eighties, most of her tours were relatively straightforward affairs, based around her singing and dancing. But for the stadium blowouts that supported her 1989 classic, Like a Prayer, she wanted to up her game. In the process, she reinvented the pop megatour itself. “I really put a lot of myself into it,” she said. “It’s much more theatrical than anything I’ve ever done.” That year, Madonna had caused a nationwide controversy with the video for “Like a Prayer,” which daringly mixed sexual and religious imagery. Blond Ambition extended that provocation and upped the spectacle. The show opened with Madonna climbing down a staircase into a factory world inspired by German expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang. She sang in a giant cathedral for “Like a Prayer” and under a beautyshop hair dryer in “Material Girl.” And, most infamously, she simulated masturbation while wearing a coneshaped bustier on a crimson bed during “Like a Virgin.” “The Blond Ambition Tour was what really catapulted her into the stratosphere,” says Vincent Paterson, the tour’s codirector and choreographer. Madonna took a hands-on approach to the show, working with her brother, painter Christopher

Ciccone, to design sets, and creating the costumes with fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. “I tried to make the show accommodate my own short attention span,” she said. “We put the songs together so there was an emotional arc in the show. I basically thought of vignettes for every song.” Starting out in Japan in April 1990 and hitting the U.S. the following month, the tour grossed almost $63 million. But it didn’t go off without any complications: Madonna had to ditch the blond-ponytail hair extensions she wore early in the tour because they kept getting caught in her headset microphone. And in Toronto, the masturbation sequence almost got her and her dancers arrested in what became a bonding moment for her entire crew. Madonna’s close relationship with her collaborators would be a major theme in the blockbuster 1991 tour documentary Truth or Dare, especially in memorable scenes where she invited her backup dancers into her bed. Today, Blond Ambition’s over-the-top intimacy is a staple of live pop music, from Lady Gaga to Miley Cyrus. In 1990, it was a revolution. “It was a kind of turning point,” says Darryl Jones, who played bass on the tour. “A lot of young girls were STEVE KNOPPER watching.”



¥ FOR THE TOUR to support their groundbreaking LP Fear of a Black

Planet, Public Enemy wanted a show to match their music’s combative assault. “OK, if we’re gonna fill a stage, everything’s gotta be moving,” leader Chuck D recalls of the band’s approach. They’d built their live rep on short, explosive sets. Now they packed an hour with Chuck as bullhorn MC and Flava Flav as his firecracker comic foil, leaping across the stage and diving into the crowd. In Houston, Ice Cube joined them to perform his guest verse on “Burn Hollywood Burn,” a song that became each night’s incendiary high point. “We didn’t need to use pyro,” says Chuck. “When I see acts use pyro, I’m CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN like, ‘What lazy fucks.’ ” M a y 4 , 2 017

Cobain at the 1991 Reading Festival


SONIC YOUTH AND NIRVANA ¥ IN THE SUMMER before they released Nevermind, Nirvana were still a largely unknown band. They booked a series of European festival dates, opening for their friends Sonic Youth – and witnessed for the first time their power to convert and ignite huge crowds. “It was passionate. It was reckless,” says Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who also astounded audiences with their New York noise-rock. “[Nirvana] were going on at 2:00 in the afternoon, playing a 20-minute set. But there was this massive amount of pogo’ing going on.” With drummer Dave Grohl on tour with the band for the first time, and the new Nevermind material, Nirvana were received almost like headliners. Kurt Cobain biographer Charles Cross called it Cobain’s “happiest time as a musician.” Recalls Grohl, “Everything was still very innocent.” A documentary of the tour, 1991: The Year Punk Broke, captured Cobain spraying champagne all over a dressing room and Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic gleefully tearing through a backstage cheese plate. The high point for Moore was in Brussels, where security tried to stop Nirvana’s nightly ritual of smashing their gear, and Novoselic had to be pulled down as he tried to climb up the closing stage curtains. “It was,” says Moore, “the most perverse, deconstructed, psychedelic freakout JON DOLAN concert I’ve ever seen.” |

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¥ FOR ITS FIRST tour of the Nineties, the biggest rock band in the world had one simple goal: to completely reinvent itself as a live act. U2 had just given their sound a full-scale makeover with 1991’s Achtung Baby – a groundbreaking fusion of rock, pop, electronic dance grooves and krautrock – and they needed a tour that reflected their sleek, challenging new music. “We were drawn to anything that was going to give us a chance to get away from the Joshua Tree earnestness,” said the Edge, “which had become so stifling.” The notion of U2 as the inheritors of rock’s social mission had been central to their Eighties stardom. But as the band was well aware, it was increasingly out of step with an era defined by groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, 64 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

Bono in the Netherlands, 1993


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too happy to talk to the band. U2 met with Bill Clinton in Chicago in September 1992 during the tour and forged what became an enduring relationship. The sitting president was unmoved. “I have nothing against U2,” Bush told a crowd in Bowling Green, Ohio, that month. “You may not know this, but they tried to call me at the White House every night during their concert. But the next time we face a foreign-policy crisis, I will work with John Major and Boris Yeltsin, and Bill Clinton can consult with Boy George.” For opening acts, U2 chose artists who enhanced the idea of the band as a gathering point for pop music in an increasingly fragmented era – from Public Enemy to the Ramones, Velvet Underground and Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder was initially skeptical about the scale of Zoo TV, but he came around. “[I eventually] understood that these weren’t decisions they were making out of fashion or simply being clever,” Vedder said. “It was like an edict they’d created as a new philosophy for the group, to really explore the avenues of connecting to people on a large level.” During a break in early 1993, U2 recorded Zooropa, which took the experiments of Achtung Baby further. When the tour resumed, Bono devised a new character: MacPhisto, a devilish figure with white face paint and horns. “The character was a great device for saying the opposite of what you meant,” said the Edge. “One highlight was calling the minister of fisheries in Norway, young Jan Henri Olsen, to congratulate him on whaling, which was forbidden by the European Union but legal in Norway. He actually took the call and invited Bono to come and have a whale steak with him.” Those phone calls became a major part of each performance – some nights Bono ordered pizzas for the crowd; on another he rang Madonna on her cellphone (she didn’t pick up). As venues got bigger, U2 kept things intimate by adding a miniset to the show, playing on a tiny stage. The wall-to-wall video screens also set the scene for every pop spectacle that followed, from Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball to Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour. “Zoo TV wasn’t a set piece, it was a state of mind,” said the Edge. For Bono, the experience was life-changing: “I’ve had to stop ‘not drinking.’ I’ve had to smoke incessantly. I’ve learned to be insincere. I’ve learned to lie. I’ve ANDY GREENE never felt better!”

On the 360° Tour, Australia, 2010

FIVE MORE U2 TOURS FOR THE AGES U2 established themselves as one of rock’s greatest live bands by crafting spectacles full of inventiveness and emotion. And every one was totally distinct

'War' Tour 1982-83 U2 were still mainly a club act when they decided to shoot a concert movie at Colorado’s Red Rocks. Despite playing in a torrential downpour, the band put on a show that would define its image as flag-waving rock redeemers. “After Red Rocks,” said Bono, “the band went into overdrive.”

'The Joshua Tree' Tour 1987 While most bands in the Eighties went for pomp and excess, U2 headed in the opposite direction. Right from the opening number – “Where the Streets Have No Name,” played before a solid-red backdrop – they found power in simplicity. “We didn’t have any tricks,” said Adam Clayton. “We had a fervent belief that the music was...big enough to fill a stadium.”

Elevation Tour 2001 After spending the 1990s in stadiums, the group decided it was time to scale things back for the tour in support of 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. U2 made arenas feel like nightclubs by putting fans in the center of a heart-shape stage and mixing in hits with new classics like “Beautiful Day.” “It felt like we were reconnecting with our audience,” said Larry Mullen. “And they with us.”

U2 360° Tour 2009-11 U2 couldn’t keep their stadium itch at bay forever. For the 360° tour, they placed a 164-foot-tall stage set – the largest ever constructed – in midfloor to allow great views from every seat. The stage was buttressed by giant four-legged supports; the band likened it to a spaceship and displayed messages from the International Space Station during the show. “We’re at the absolute limit when you consider the economics and the practicality of transportation,” said the Edge.

Innocence + Experience Tour 2015 U2’s 2014 LP Songs of Innocence was an extremely personal collection of songs about Bono’s childhood. The band wanted the supporting tour to capture that intimacy. Playing on a stage that spanned the entire arena, U2 performed while walking through gigantic LED screens projecting images from throughout their lives. “The breaking down of the fourth wall has been the theme of all of U2’s live shows,” said Bono. M a y 4 , 2 017


who cast a skeptical eye at sweeping Joshua Tree-style rock heroism. For the Achtung Baby tour, U2 were ready to loosen up and throw a dance party, albeit a subversive one, packed with multimedia images that were a clear break from the stark purity of their Eighties stage sets. “The tour was being conceived at the same time as the album,” Bono recalled in 2005. “Zoo radio was a phenomenon before reality TV, with so-called shock jocks such as Howard Stern. It was aggressive, raw radio, the precursor to The Jerry Springer Show. The world was getting tired of fiction. . . . We wanted to make a tour that referenced this zoo/reality phenomenon.” Extensive cable news coverage was a fact of life by the early Nineties; during the Gulf War, images of Scud missiles raining down on Iraq became dinnertime entertainment. U2 essentially turned the Zoo TV set into a postmodern art installation that reflected the numbing cacophony of the cable-TV era, playing in front of a mosaic of TV screens that mashed up war footage with old sitcoms, cooking shows and everything in between. Bono, meanwhile, came up with a new, sly persona to match the new stage set. He donned an Elvis-style leather jacket, wraparound sunglasses and leather pants that evoked Jim Morrison. He took this rock star amalgamation and created a character called the Fly. “When I put on those glasses, anything goes,” Bono told Rolling Stone. “The character is just on the edge of lunacy. It’s megalomania and paranoia.” Zoo TV opened in Florida on February 29th, 1992. If the staging and Bono’s wild get-up weren’t enough indications this was a new U2, the band kicked things off with eight consecutive songs from Achtung Baby. “People went for it,” Bono said to Rolling Stone later that year. “The first show, you just didn’t know. ‘How is this going to go down?’ And they went for it. I think our audiences are smart and that they expect us to push and pull them a bit. They had to swallow blues on Rattle and Hum, for God’s sake! They can take it.” The tour’s first leg coincided with the 1992 presidential race, and every night from the stage Bono called the White House and asked to speak with President Bush. “Operator Two and I had a great relationship,” Bono said. “She tried not to show it, but I could tell she was very amused, as we rang her night after night.” Bush never took the call, but a young Arkansas governor was all



THE EVOLUTION OF RADIOHEADÕS STADIUM-SIZE ART ROCK May 27, 1994 This version of “My Iron Lung” ended up on The Bends.


RADIOHEAD ¥ THE SCENE RADIOHEAD encountered at 1997’s Glastonbury Festival looked more like a war zone than a concert. It had been pouring rain for days, forcing the 90,000 fans at the remote field in Somerset, England, to live like refugees in a monsoon. Two stages sank into the mud, and some fans actually came down with the World War I-era malady trench foot. Early in Radiohead’s set, Thom Yorke’s monitor melted down. The lighting rig was shining directly into his face, meaning he couldn’t see in addition to being unable to hear himself play. “If I’d found the guy who was running the PA system that day,” Yorke told a journalist, “I would have gone backstage and throttled him. Everything was going wrong. Everything blew up.” 68 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

Weeks after releasing their career-defining album, OK Computer, it looked like Radiohead might flop during a headlining set at the world’s biggest music festival. Instead, the chaos inspired one of the band’s greatest performances. Rage poured through Yorke all night long, giving extra fire to eight songs from OK Computer, plus nearly all of The Bends – and even a crowdpleasing version of their first hit, “Creep.” It was a transcendent performance, even if Yorke didn’t realize it at the time. “I thundered offstage at the end, really ready to kill,” he said. “And my girlfriend grabbed me, made me stop, and said, ‘Listen!’ And the crowd were just going wild. It was amazing.” In 2006, Q magazine voted it the greatest conANDY GREENE cert in British history.

Vedder in 1998

July 4, 2000 A sneak preview of Kid A that left Berlin stunned. June 17, 2006 At Bonnaroo, playing early versions of In Rainbows songs.


PEARL JAM ¥ BY THE MID-NINETIES, Pearl Jam were in serious danger of imploding, thanks to intraband tensions and a self-defeating war against Ticketmaster that had left them almost unable to tour. But they started over with 1998’s aptly named Yield, their most collaborative album yet, and when they hit the road with a new drummer, Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron, the shows fulfilled their promise as one of rock’s all-time great live acts. New tracks (“Given to Fly,” “Do the Evolution”) were instant crowd favorites, and classics like “Alive” sounded bigger than ever. “We’re making up for lost time here,” Eddie Vedder told the crowd one A.G. night. “Thanks for waiting.”

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Yorke in Los Angeles

¥ IN EARLY 1997, the most exciting new band in rock was a trio of young women driving their own van across the country, with only their friend Tim along as a roadie. “We’d get to the club,” recalls Sleater-Kinney singer-guitarist Corin Tucker, “and the sound man would be like, ‘Wait. You’re the band? You? You girls?’ ” But playing songs from its album Dig Me Out, the group bulldozed the staid indie-rock scene with unbridled punk-rock exuberance. “In Atlanta, 10 women got onstage and took their shirts off and danced with us,” says co-leader Carrie Brownstein. “I don’t know if they’d ever felt that freedom before, and I was really proud to provide the soundtrack for that.” JON DOLAN

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Launching a smooth tequila with a not-so-smooth name. #AShotWorthTaking


2006-07 DAFT PUNK

DECEMBER 31, 1999


¥ IN THE EARLY AUGHTS, electronic-dance live “performances” were rarely more than one or two dudes nodding their heads around laptops. All that changed at Coachella on April 29th, 2006, when Daft Punk unveiled their genre’s most dazzling musical spectacle. In the overheated, overcrowded darkness of the festival’s Sahara Tent, two helmeted, robotlike figures – Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – stood inside a 24-foot aluminum pyramid covered in high-intensity LED panels and performed their catalog as a megamix to nearly 40,000 fans. “It was the most synced-up we ever felt,” Bangalter said. What might have been a legendary one-off became a 2007 tour that blew minds across Europe, the U.S., Japan and Australia, inspiring the likes of Skrillex and untold others. W.H.


With the Who’s “Sparks” and Prince’s “Purple Rain” popping up along the way.

Glens Falls, NY 1994

FEBRUARY 20, 2004


¥ FOR DECADES, Brian Wilson avoided even talking about Smile, the psychedelic follow-up to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds he shelved under the stresses of drug abuse and psychiatric problems. At a 2002 Pet Sounds show in London, though, someone said to the promoter, “How can we possibly top this?” The idea of a Smile tour came up. “We all kind of chuckled,” says Wilson keyboardist Darian Sahanaja. But 20 months later, after poring over the old Smile tapes, Wilson walked onstage and finally delivered on his decadesold promise of a “teenage symphony to God,” bringing rock’s most famous unheard album back to life. From the first celestial harmonies of “Our Prayer” much of the audience was in tears. Backstage afterward, Wilson was exultant, shoutANDY GREENE ing, “I did it!” 70 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

Phish play the Beatles’ entire White Album.

Las Vegas 2014

A spooky instrumental second set with hauntedhouse sound effects.


LEONARD COHEN ¥ IT STARTED AS a financial rescue mission. After Leonard Cohen learned, at age 70, that his manager/sometimelover had absconded with most of his life savings, he realized that his only chance of replenishing his funds was to go on tour. Cohen wasn’t sure how many fans he had left, so he first agreed only to a test run of theater dates in farCohen in flung Canadian towns. Holland, Though he’d never 2008 much enjoyed touring, Cohen was a uniquely charismatic live performer. Even those first shows stretched past the two-hour mark, mixing elegant rearrangements of 1960s classics like “Suzanne” and “Bird on the Wire” with more recent tunes like “Waiting for the Miracle” and “Boogie Street.” His voice had deepened considerably, but that only gave it more authority and character. “It’s like he was whispering into your ear,” says longtime backup singer Sharon Robinson. The shows were spectacular, and word-of-mouth spread quickly. By 2009, Cohen was selling out arenas all over Europe, and eventually he hit 20,000-seaters in America, including Madison Square Garden. The tour eventually ran for 387 shows across five years. Even as he neared his 80th birthday, he kept adding

new songs and stretching the running time to three and a half hours, even skipping offstage before the encores. “Leonard was really good at conserving his strength and blocking out distractions and prioritizing his energy,” says Robinson. “He lived an almost monastic lifestyle even though he wasn’t a real monk.” By the time he played his final show, in Auckland, New Zealand, Cohen had gone from cult favorite to cross-generational icon. After he closed that performance with a sprightly “Save the Last Dance for Me,” he doffed his hat, took a deep bow and walked off the stage, smiling. “I want to thank you,” he said to the audience. “Not just for tonight, but for all the years you’ve paid A.G. attention to my songs.” M a y 4 , 2 017



¥ FOR PHISHÕS Trey Anastasio, this colossal one-band festival, at a South Florida Native American reservation, was “the culmination” of the band’s first run. “Eighty thousand people came from all over,” he said, “and virtually nothing went wrong.” The fest’s final set began around midnight, and went on for more than seven hours, displaying every side of peak Phish, a singular mix of injoke quirks and ESP-level improv. Toward the end came an unforgettable take on the “Sunrise” section of “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” played as the sun actually rose. “I will never listen to that tape because I know what a letdown it would be compared to what it was actually like,” Anastasio said. “When that sun came up, and the sky was blazing pink, it was an indescribable moment.” WILL HERMES


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APRIL 2, 2011



Bono and Jagger in New York, 2009



¥ THE IDEA WAS to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with no less than the most important multi-artist concert in history. “I knew the anniversary had potency,” said Hall of Fame Foundation chairman (and Rolling Stone founder) Jann Wenner. “I thought that we had earned the right and responsibility to do this thing. It was an opportunity not to be missed.” The organizers were determined to put on a show that was far more ambitious than any of the previous megashows, while capturing the intimate, collaborative spirit of the annual induction ceremonies and telling the story of rock & roll. “[I kept saying], ‘If this is just miniconcerts of greatest hits, I’m bored,’” recalled co-producer Robbie Robertson. “ ‘What do we have to offer that you can’t get anywhere else?’ ” The shows, held over two nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden, were a rock fan’s dream, with all the artists delivering blistering, unforgettable sets, no doubt inspired by the presence of so many of their peers and the event’s grandeur. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who closed the first night, performed at their absolute peak, turn72 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

ing themselves into a soul revue as they backed Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Tom Morello and Darlene Love. U2 brought Springsteen back the next night, but the biggest moment came near the end of their set, when they kicked into “Gimme Shelter,” and – out of nowhere – an unbilled Mick Jagger appeared onstage to the stunned delight of the crowd. The first night began with a nod to rock’s origins: Jerry Lee Lewis pounding out “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Next were Crosby, Stills and Nash (joined by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor), Stevie Wonder (with guests Smokey Robinson, John Legend, B.B. King, Sting and Jeff Beck) and a noteperfect Simon and Garfunkel. On the closing night, Aretha Franklin sang with Annie Lennox and Lenny Kravitz; Jeff Beck jammed with Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons and Sting; and Metallica backed Ray Davies, Ozzy Osbourne and Lou Reed. “For a lot of us here, rock & roll means just one word: liberation. Political, sexual, spiritual liberation,” Bono said onstage, before Springsteen interrupted him with the other side of the equation: “Let’s have some fun with it!” ANDY GREENE

1995 Neil Young and Led Zeppelin rip through “When the Levee Breaks.” 2002 Talking Heads put aside years of bitterness for one final set. 2004 Prince honors George Harrison with a smoking “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” solo.

Kanye and Jay Z

ÔWATCH THE TOUR 2011-12 THRONEÕ JAY Z& KANYE WEST ¥ ÒIÕM SORRY IF this is your first concert,” Kanye West said to a Los Angeles crowd on the Watch the Throne tour. “It’s all downhill from here.” Supporting their triumphal 2011 LP, Watch the Throne, Jay Z and Kanye convened the greate s t s up e r s t a r summit in hiphop history. The pair performed on giant, rising cubes that projected video, and, when the tour hit Paris, encored with their hit “Niggas in Paris” 12 times in a row. “People just wanted more,” says the tour’s lighting designer Nick Whitehouse. “It made people crazy.” CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN M a y 4 , 2 017



¥ ÒITÕS YOUR SHOW,Ó LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy shouted to a sold-out Madison Square Garden. The raging farewell by Murphy’s beloved group was a Last Waltz for New York’s early-’00s dance-rock scene. “I thought it would be really sad,” recalls keyboardist-vocalist Nancy Whang. “But it was just fun. The energy in the room was really charged.” Fans danced to near-exhaustion as LCD played songs from their entire catalog. With barely two months to prepare the nearly four-hour spectacle, featuring a choir, a horn section and a rickety spaceship, the band tackled a production scale beyond its experience. “It was held together with gum and string,” Whang admits. The night (captured in the 2012 film Shut Up and Play the Hits) ended in a snowstorm of balloons, culminating the band’s dream of throwing “the WILL HERMES best funeral ever.”

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¥ THE RETURN OF CHRISTINE McVIE after 16 years brought the Mac’s live show to a whole new dimension. Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar solo on “Go Your Own Way” soared to new heights; Stevie Nicks seemed possessed during the nightly exorcism of “Rhiannon”; and all three voices locked seamlessly on “Little Lies.” It was all the magic of 1977 without the distractions of hard drugs and sexual soap operas. ANDY GREENE




¥ ÒYOUÕRE NOT going to see me playing the banjo,” Taylor Swift warned Rolling Stone at the outset of her 1989 world tour. On her Speak Now and Red tours, she claimed her turf at the crossroads of country, pop and classic arena rock. But for 1989, Swift made her bold move into fullon dance pop. She turned up the glitz with new material like “New Romantics” and “Blank Space” (“blatant pop music,” as she put it), but she didn’t compromise on her trademark emo-

tional overshares, whether opening up in confessional interludes or torching up ballads (“Clean”). Swift aimed for a glammier look onstage, reflecting the grown-up flair of the music, and she invited high-profile guests: In Nashville, she duetted with Mick Jagger; in L.A., she brought out Beck, St. Vincent, Justin Timberlake, Chris Rock and Alanis Morissette. It all summed up her staggeringly ambitious vision of ROB SHEFFIELD modern pop.

TAYLORÕS TOP DUETS Swift brought up dozens of guests on the ‘1989’ tour. Here are the best moments:


Swift in Nashville, 2015

“Can’t Feel My Face”



Beck and St. Vincent LOS ANGELES


Justin Timberlake LOS ANGELES


¥ STRUTTING IN stacked heels across the turf of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, wrapped in golden bandoleers and flanked by a Black Panther-styled phalanx of dancers, Beyoncé performed “Formation” at the 2016 Super Bowl in a cameo appearance even fiercer than her 2013 Super Bowl triumph. It was the overture to a tour that redefined stadium-scale concert staging. “She had an overall vision of what she wanted,” says Steve Pamon, chief operating officer of Beyoncé’s label, Parkwood Entertainment. “Not only in terms of a business, but in the type of experience we want to give the fans.” Four days before the tour began, Beyoncé surprise-dropped her instant classic Lemonade. British set designer Es Devlin, who had previously worked with Kanye West and U2, created a kind of spectacular intimacy that fit the album’s personal themes. At midstage was the “Monolith,” a video-screen centerpiece standing seven stories high that projected the show in 70-foot magnification, making every seat feel front-row. On opening night in Miami, Bey burned through “Crazy in Love” and “Bootylicious” in a fire-engine-red latex bodysuit and matching boots, looking like an anime empress. The shows also dialed it down for slow jams like the breakup meditation “Mine,” during which the Monolith split in two to reveal dancers suspended on cables while Bey and a squadron in lace bodysuits rose up from beneath the stage. At the end of the show, a moving catwalk connected the main stage to a huge wading pool, where Beyoncé and her dancers splashed around in a baptismal moment that reflected Lemonade’s journey from betrayal to rebirth. The Formation World Tour began around the time of Prince’s death. In Minneapolis, she performed his classic “The Beautiful Ones” before a rapt crowd, honoring a hero and placing herself in his epic lineage. “I would put that tour up against any performance,” Pamon says. “By any BRITTANY SPANOS artist at any age.” M a y 4 , 2 017



BeyoncĂŠ in New Orleans, 2016




A brief history of passionate fans gathering together in the name of music, love and not showering Ð from a generation-defining party in upstate New York to a chill polo field outside Palm Springs, California, to an eclectic jam on a campground in rural Tennessee


Sly Stone at Woodstock


76 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |



“What kind of culture is it that can produce so colossal a mess?” thundered the New York Times editorial page after approximately 500,000 rock fans turned a 600-acre chunk of Max Yasgur’s upstate New York farm into the greatest camping trip in rock history – featuring sets by a lineup that included the Who, Sly Stone, CSNY, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Santana and dozens of others. As Jimi Hendrix closed the weekend on the morning of its fourth day with a lysergic “StarSpangled Banner,” history had been made, brown acid notwithstanding. “I think ‘the Big Bang’ is a great way to describe Woodstock,” David Crosby once said.

After a genocidal war in South Asia led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and created a massive refugee crisis, Indian sitar great Ravi Shankar approached George Harrison about a benefit. Two concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden in August 1971 essentially invented the megastar-humanitarian charity blowout. Harrison led a supergroup featuring his old bandmate Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan’s set with Harrison was the first time he had ever played live with a Beatle. “What we did show was that musicians and people are more humane than politicians,” Harrison later recalled.

M a y 4 , 2 017


“Monterey Pop was the prototype,” concert promoter Bill Graham told ROLLING STONE. It christened the Summer of Love, with around 200,000 flower children happily descending on the quiet Northern California beach community. The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience sealed their legends with equipment-destroying U.S. performances, and soul icon Otis Redding, playing months before his tragic death, crossed over to the rock audience with an impassioned set. “I thought the stage was going to fall in when he stomped his foot,” recalled Grace Slick.



Memphis soul label Stax Records came up with the idea of a “black Woodstock” in Los Angeles seven years after the cataclysmic Watts riots of 1965. More than 100,000 people paid the $1 ticket charge and packed the Los Angeles Coliseum to see the Bar-Kays, Albert King, Rufus Thomas, the Staple Singers, and headliner Isaac Hayes, who did a spellbinding “Theme From Shaft,” bare chested under a vest of gold chains. A 30-year-old dashikiclad Jesse Jackson led the crowd to raise fists and join in the chant “I! Am! Somebody!” at a historic event that generated thousands to benefit community groups, and produced an excellent 1973 concert movie. “There was hope in that film and everything that we aspired to be,” said Hayes.

Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell organized Lollapalooza in 1991 to create “a social gathering where people can feel like they were at the right place at the right time.” And that time was never more right than 1994, the height of the alternative era. Lolla ’94 was a perfect snapshot of alt-rock’s unlikely boom. The Beastie Boys provided an article in the concert program outlining the do’s-and-don’ts of moshing (“Save the macho bullshit for American Gladiators tryouts, tough guy”); the Breeders played their surprise MTV hit “Cannonball”; funk legend George Clinton performed for an audience who’d spent the past two years listening to his samples in songs by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg; and A Tribe Called Quest got the Smashing Pumpkins fans bouncing. The year’s breakout act was Green Day, who joined midway through the tour. “People would rush the stage, causing security to come out,” said bassist Mike Dirnt. “Of course, we’d get in trouble for it.”

Freddie Mercury at Live Aid

Billy Corgan

LIVE AID 1985 More than 1.5 billion people worldwide watched the trans-Atlantic “Eighties Woodstock,” thanks to a star-packed lineup including Bob Dylan, Madonna, Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys, Queen, U2 and Led Zeppelin, who reunited, with Phil Collins on drums. Live Aid eventually raised around $250 million for Ethiopian famine relief. “Everybody had such a fantastic time,” said David Bowie. “I’d do it next year in a shot.”





In its fifth year, Coachella drew 110,000 fans to the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California (despite 100-plus heat on Day One). It was the first time the fest had sold out, and it was a watershed, highlighted by Beck, Radiohead, the Black Keys, the Cure, Kraftwerk and Muse. The main event featured a reunion of indie-rock titans the Pixies. “This is the first festival I know of with this kind of dynamic lineup,” said Danger Mouse, who performed that year. “It’s amazing.” M a y 4 , 2 017

The mud-caked U.K. blowout was broadcast nationally for the first time, making it a coming-out party for Brit pop, with appearances by Oasis, Blur, Björk, Pulp and Radiohead, and an epochal moment for dance music, thanks to techno duo Orbital’s hugely influential set.



Dutch DJ-producer Tiësto has called the beachside Miami event “one of the most important festivals in the world.” Its 10th-anniversary installment was ground zero for the EDM explosion in the aughts. Future crossover stars Calvin Harris and David Guetta did breakout sets, and thenlittle-known Canadian artist Deadmau5 injected a new visual spectacle into dance music, turning a small spot on the main stage into a careermaking moment.


Bonnaroo debuted in 2002, offering a jam-friendly lineup and an immersive camping experience that mirrored European fests like Glastonbury. “It was like, ‘Why not try this in the United States?’” said co-founder Ashley Capps. By 2009, the Manchester, Tennessee, get-together was America’s biggest fest, and its most eclectic. The Beastie Boys played their final set, before the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch, and African bands, including King Sunny Adé, heated up “the Other Tent.” On the final night, fest patron saints Phish covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Bobby Jean” and “Glory Days,” with Springsteen himself joining in on vocals and guitar. “We were in the practice room,” said Phish bassist Mike Gordon, “[and] he instantly brought this sense of melody and bold statements out of his singing and guitar playing. It was undeniably great.” KORY GROW, CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

R ol l i n g S t o n e |






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wants to hear about it? I don’t want to hear my favorite artists talk about all the amazing shit they get to do. I want to hear, ‘How did you feel when you were alone in that hotel room, because you chose to be alone?’ ” To wind down in Jamaica, Styles and Rowland, the guitarist, began a daily Netflix obsession with sugary romantic comedies. Houseworkers would sometimes leave at night and return the next morning to see Styles blearily removing himself from a long string of rom-coms. He declares himself an expert on Nicholas Sparks, whom he now calls “Nicky Spee.” After almost two months, the band left the island with a bounty of songs and stories. Like the time Styles ended up drunk and wet from the ocean, toasting everybody, wearing a dress he’d traded with someone’s girlfriend. “I don’t remember the toast,” he says, “but I remember the feeling.”

[Cont. from 27] sometimes you just want to give them the whole cap . . . and hope they know it’s just for them.”

n l a t e f e brua r y 2016, s t y l e s landed a plum part in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming World War II epic, Dunkirk. In Nolan, Styles found a director equally interested in mystery. “The movie is so ambitious,” he says. “Some of the stuff they’re doing in this movie is insane. And it was hard, man, physically really tough, but I love acting. I love playing someone else. I’d sleep really well at night, then get up and continue drowning.” When Styles returned to L.A., an idea landed. The idea was: Get out of Dodge. Styles called his manager, Jeffrey Azoff, and explained he wanted to finish the album outside London or L.A., a place where the band could focus and coalesce. Four days after returning from the movie, they were on their way to Port Antonio on Jamaica’s remote north coast. At Geejam, Styles and his entire band were able to live together, turning the studio compound into something like a Caribbean version of Big Pink. They occupied a two-story villa filled with instruments, hung out at the tree-house-like Bush Bar, and had access to the gorgeous studio on-site. Many mornings began with a swim in the deserted cove just down the hill. Life in Jamaica was 10 percent beach party and 90 percent musical expedition. It was the perfect rite of passage for a musician looking to explode the past and launch a future. The anxiety of what’s next slipped away. Layers of feeling emerged that had never made it past One Direction’s group songwriting sessions, often with pop craftsmen who polished the songs after Styles had left. He didn’t feel stifled in One D, he says, as much as interrupted. “We were touring all the time,” he recalls. “I wrote more as we went, especially on the last two albums.” There are songs from that period he loves, he says, like “Olivia” and “Stockholm Syndrome,” along with the earlier song “Happily.” “But I think it was tough to really delve in and find out who you are as a writer when you’re just kind of dipping your toe each time. We didn’t get the six months to see what kind of shit you can work with. To have time to live with a song, see what you love as a fan, chip at it, hone it and go for that . . . it’s heaven.” The more v ulnerable the song, he learned, the better. “The one subject that hits the hardest is love,” he says, “whether it’s platonic, romantic, loving it, gaining it, losing it . . . it always hits you hardest. I don’t think people want to hear me talk about going to bars, and how great everything is. The champagne popping . . . who


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hristm as 2016. harry st yles was parked outside his childhood home, sitting next to his father. They were listening to his album. After lunch at a pub, they had driven down their old street and landed in front of the family home. Staring out at the house where Styles grew up listening to his father’s copy of The Dark Side of the Moon, there was much to consider. It was a long way he’d traveled in those fast few years since “Isn’t She Lovely.” He’d previously played the new album for his mother, on a stool, in the living room, on cheap speakers. She’d cried hearing “Sign of the Times.” Now he sat with his father – who liked the new song “Carolina” best – both having come full circle. Styles is moved as he describes how he felt. We’re sitting in Corden’s empty office, talking over a few last subjects before he returns to England. “I think, as a parent, especially with the band stuff, it was such a roller coaster,” he says. “I feel like they were always thinking, ‘OK, this ride could stop at any point and we’re going to have to be there when it does.’ There was something about playing the album and how happy I was that told them, ‘If all I get is to make this music, I’m content. If I’m never on that big ride again, I’m happy and proud of it.’ “I always said, at the very beginning, all I wanted was to be the granddad with the best stories . . . and the best shelf of artifacts and bits and trinkets.” Tomorrow night he’ll hop a flight back to England. Rehearsals await. Album-cover choices need to be made. He grabs his black notebook and turns back for a moment before disappearing down the hallway, into the future. “How am I going to be mysterious,” he asks, only half-joking, “when I’ve been this honest with you?”




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Sheryl Crow The singer-songwriter on apocalyptic fears, choosing happiness, and what Gandhi and Keef have in common You’ve had health crises over the years, including breast cancer and a benign brain tumor. How have those affected the way you see day-to-day life? I don’t think about it anymore. I don’t think about whether my cancer’s coming back or if my brain tumor’s growing or anything like that. I’m busy with my kids – my objective is to be here as long as I can for them and to enjoy every second of it. But I would say that my life was really changed when I got diagnosed. It gave me the freedom to just say, “Hey, let’s get on with life. If you wanna have kids, either adopt or go have one, get some sperm, whatever.” I also learned how to let myself off the hook, and it really made my life a lot better. I like to blame my lack of memories on having a brain tumor, but unfortunately I can’t, ’cause it doesn’t have any side effects [laughs]. How has having kids changed you? Everything revolves around what’s good for them. I quit touring [temporarily] a couple of years ago. My nineyear-old cried. He was like, “We’re not going on the tour bus?” But the main thing really is that my work, my socalled inspiration, has been relegated to school hours. I made a record I love between school drop-off and dinnertime. Not many rock stars can say that. In “Heartbeat Away,” on your new album, a president launches nukes. Do you have apocalyptic fears? My sleep has been disturbed. My insides are ridden with unease. I wrote that song before Trump got the nomination – it already felt apocalyptic that people were entertaining the idea of making a man like that the most powerful person in the world. I had to go into deep meditation and find a way to have compassion for the people of this country that are hurting and believe he cares about them. I’m worried, but my meditation teacher said something fascinating. Her phrase was, “This is the way forward.” You have a pretty serious meditation practice – what does that do for you? I meditate 20 to 25 minutes in the morning, then 20 minutes in between tucking the boys in and going to bed. It’s compassion-based – the idea is to live life from an extremely compassionate place and be mindful. Who are your heroes? Gandhi, and then after that I would say Keith Richards. George Harrison, for a number of reasons. Stevie Nicks. Bob Dylan. Crow’s new album, “Be Myself,” is out April 21st.

82 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |

You don’t often hear Gandhi and Keith in the same breath. For a curious human being who is always looking to navigate life with passion, you know, Gandhi’s it. For someone who’s also curious and who is so playful about music and loves the people that he has loved, that’s Keith. I mean, I’m pretty sure that Keith had a nice, long cry the other day when Chuck Berry died. And that’s what I love about my work – it’s work – but it’s a life force, and that’s what I look at with him. You recorded and never released a debut before Tuesday Night Music Club. How do you see that album now? It just wound up being a really soft-rock-sounding record. And I am never soft rock. And I just felt like, if I turn this in and this is my introduction, I did not stand a chance. You always have one introduction. You get one first impression. Did learning cover songs in bar bands as you were coming up inform your songwriting? I tell every kid, get in a cover band. It teaches you chops, it literally teaches you why some songs are classics, and it teaches you how to navigate a working band. With songwriting, there’s something to that idea of stealing from the best. You’re only as good as your references. And I pride myself on my references. I have tried to emulate the greatest rock stars and songwriters in the world. I try not to steal verbatim, but if they’ve influenced my work at all, I take a sense of pride in that. The classic-rockers embraced you right away. Was there any downside to that? There’s absolutely no downside to that. My idea for music was that I didn’t want to be great. I wanted to be important. I wanted to write important music, and so, when you start having a music career and you’re certainly not one of the cool kids, but you’re embraced by the older class – I was just like, “Wow, I can’t believe these people know me.” As hokey as it might sound, I still feel really humbled by that. Finally, if it makes you happy, can it be that bad? As great a hook as that might be, that is a conundrum. My struggle in life is accepting the idea of choosing to be happy. Happiness is not something where you wake up that way. You decide you’re gonna be happy. And it took me a long time to figure that out. I definitely consciously do it with my children, because they define themselves by your mood and how it relates to them. As a parent and as a person, life can be so happy, but you have to decide that that’s the life you’re gonna lead. INTERVIEW BY BRIAN HIATT

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