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Concert Preview: Should the Stones still be rolling?

Experts from the Pittsburgh music scene weigh in on the relevance of the Rolling Stones

Friday, January 10, 2003

By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor

If the Rolling Stones' longevity wasn't already a minor miracle, the recent death of Joe Strummer and, before that, two of the Ramones, made it seem all the more so.


WITH: Ryan Adams
WHERE: Mellon Arena, Uptown
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight
TICKETS: $50, $90, $150. 412-323-1919.
ON THE WEB: www.rollingstones.com

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Not only had most of the Stones' contemporaries -- most notably, the Beatles -- burned out or faded away, but now the generation of punks that followed had no shot of ever matching their staying power.

That three of the five principals and one veteran member would still be ticking, considering the band's deal with the devil -- and not be fat and bald! -- only adds to the supernatural air of it all.

But the thing is, even if Keith can still drag himself up on stage, tattered as he is, and even if Mick can still strut around in those tight pants and not look ridiculous, should they keep rolling? And even if they still dare to compete with their own legacy by going back in the studio -- when, of course, we all know "Some Girls" (1978) was the last one that mattered -- should they even bother?

We posed this question to some people in the Pittsburgh music and art scene: Should the Stones have hung it up? If so, when? If not, why?

Here's what they had to say:

Ronnie Woods, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones perform "Street Fightin' Man" in November at the MGM Grand hotel-casnio in Las Vegas. (Joe Cavaretta, Associated Press)

Jenn Wertz, Rusted Root: No, I don't think they should have hung it up at any point. There are no rock stars left in this whack music industry we have. Young people have to be exposed to the heart and soul -- even if they are old folks. It doesn't seem odd to me that they would be on stage, especially since musicians emulate what they're initially turned onto and for Mick and Keith that was Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Memphis Slim. They just played until they couldn't play anymore.

Karl Mullen, singer-songwriter: If you had asked me 10 or 15 years ago I would have said, yes, they should have split up and called it a day. Since then I think they have metamorphosed into this living, breathing history of rock 'n' roll. I still think they are eejits. I'd love to see them do a small club intimate tour. Although they have survived the changing years they still operate these inflated entertainment spectacles, which to me are hopelessly outdated, impersonal and atrocious. I have always respected Keith and his absolute love and understanding of early blues and rock 'n' roll and I still miss Brian Jones. With the death of Joe Strummer and John Entwistle, one is reminded of rock's mortality and one wonders how much longer The Stones will be around -- I for one hope it is forever.

Phil Boyd and Paul Quattrone, The Modey Lemon: We've wished a couple times that they would hang themselves. Ultimately, we don't really care what they do. We're Who fans.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger struts his stuff at the Bell Center in Montreal two days ago as the Stones played their first show of 2003 on the Forty Licks tour. (Ryan Remiorz, Associated Press)

Mark Madden, sports talk show host: The Rolling Stones should never hang it up. But they should no longer be seen as anything but a nostalgia act. The Stones are still dynamic stage performers, but they haven't done an album of any substance for two decades. That's not a knock. Every creative mind runs out of ideas sooner or later, and the Glimmer Twins collectively had more than most. The Rolling Stones played a major role in defining rock 'n' roll. Because of that, they should be allowed to go out on their own terms, or proceed on any terms they choose. Just like UFO.

Tom Sokolowski, director of the Andy Warhol Museum: Given that I'm the same generation as the Stones, I'm very pleased that the beat still goes on. However, one generation's appreciation for swollen anatomy in Lycra becomes the next generation's pathetic DVDs.

Justin Sane, Anti-Flag: To me the answer is obvious. If they still enjoy what they're doing, then [bleepin'] go for it. People can choose to listen or not.

John Artale, Galaxy Records: Since they didn't quit after Brian Jones died or Bill Wyman left or most importantly after losing the input of twin muses Anita Pallenberg & Marianne Faithfull, who helped make the late '60s Stones so magnificent, why not keep doing it until either Slash or Axl take ill? What other bands on life support can still be this exciting live? They still sound good and there are a few thrilling moments to be had on this current tour ("Can't You Hear Me Knocking"). As long as they still surround themselves with great musicians and they have that repertoire of classics to draw from and can still spark some flame, I'll give 'em till 2007.

Tom Moran, the Deliberate Strangers: The Stones are in a unique situation, as far as longevity goes, so they might as well go where no band has gone before. I still have faith in them.

Keith Richards, Chuck Leavell, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger in a December publicity still released by the band.

Buzz Nutley, local comic: I thought that when they started naming their tours after things you might find at a retirement home i.e.: Steel Wheels and No Security then it might have been time to quit, but after attending the concerts my opinion changed. The energy and passion the Stones still show as a band is more than most of the newer no-frills impostors touring today. The bands of today can learn a valuable lesson that the Rolling Stones learned, oh, so long ago: that the fans buy the CDs for the music, but come to the concert for the show and as long as the Stones keep delivering the show they should keep touring.

"Poppa" John Tucker, SodaJerk: I think it's fine that they continue to do records. But as a live band, they're looking a bit creepy, if ya know what I mean. Honestly, after The Who blew them off stage at The Concert for America last year, they should've sat down and practiced a lot harder!

Mandee Amoeba (Phat Man Dee): Even if they have to ice down Sir Mick between shows, revive and then wheelchair his aged and wrinkled carcass onto the stage, he'll always make me pant. I'da knighted him.

Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576.

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