Review: ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ (2020), starring Ronnie Wood

September 18, 2020

by Carla Hay

Ronnie Wood in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (Photo courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment)

“Somebody Up There Likes Me” (2020)

Directed by Mike Figgis

Culture Representation: This documentary about Rolling Stones lead guitarist Ronnie Wood features Wood and an all-white group of people (mostly British) who talk about Wood, his artistic accomplishments and his personal life.

Culture Clash: Wood is candid about problems he’s had in his life, including his drug addiction and alcoholism.

Culture Audience: Besides the obvious target audience of Rolling Stones fans, “Somebody Up There Likes Me” will appeal to people who like survivor stories of people from the classic rock era.

Ronnie Wood in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (Photo courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment)

Considering the copious amount of books, news reports, feature articles and documentaries about the Rolling Stones, there really isn’t a whole lot that can be revealed about the band that hasn’t already been covered. The authorized documentary “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (directed by Mike Figgis) takes an engaging but not particularly insightful look into the life of Rolling Stones lead guitarist Ronnie Wood, who’s been in the band since the mid-1970s.

Wood has two memoirs (2008’s “Ronnie” and 2017’s “Ronnie Wood: Artist”) and an ex-wife (Jo Wood) who wrote her own 2013 memoir about their relationship, so the documentary is more of a snapshot of his life, rather than an in-depth portrait. Speaking of portraits, about half of the documentary is about Ronnie as a painter/illustrator. There’s a lot of screen time devoted to showing him doing hand-drawn portraits and talking about art and paintbrushes with fellow artist Damien Hirst, one of Ronnie’s closest friends. (Ronnie’s current and third wife Sally is one of his portrait subjects.)

This isn’t a biographical documentary that takes the conventional format of telling a life story in chronological order, from birth to when the documentary was filmed. Most of the footage involves just following Ronnie around and showing what he happened to be doing at the time. The “talking head” interviews are also selective: only a handful of people in Ronnie’s inner circle, including his wife Sally, friend Hirst, Rod Stewart (who used to be in the Jeff Beck Group and in the Faces with Ronnie), Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Keith Richards and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

There also isn’t a lot of digging into Ronnie’s pre-fame life. However, Ronnie (who was born in 1947 in London) does mention his dysfunctional upbringing in his family of musicians. He describes his father Arthur and two older brothers Art and Ted as alcoholics. (All of them were jazz and blues musicians.) Art and Ted were also painter artists, and Ronnie has said in many interviews how much his older brothers influenced him.

Ronnie remembers that when he was a child, his family wouldn’t know which garden his father Arthur would be passed out in if they couldn’t find him. This chronic alcoholic behavior worried his mother. Ronnie says that Arthur never abused the kids, but his frequent absences did have a negative effect on the family. “He would be damaging by not being there.” Ronnie comments.

Considering that addiction can be inherited, it’s little wonder that Ronnie became a hardcore drug addict and alcoholic too. He’s already been candid about it many interviews and in his memoirs. His decadent past has also been extensively covered in the media. Therefore, the documentary isn’t interested in having Ronnie tell all the wild and crazy stories about himself that he already told years ago.

Ronnie got clean and sober in 2010, after Hirst and Ronnie’s son Jesse (who are also recovering alcoholics/addicts) did an intervention on Ronnie. But one addiction that Ronnie had a hard time quitting after that was nicotine. Ronnie had no choice to quit smoking after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017. Luckily, the cancer was caught early enough where he could have surgery to correct the problem.

Ronnie says in the documentary that he used to smoke about 25 to 30 cigarettes a day. Now, when he goes for a medical checkup, the doctor tells him that he has lungs that look so healthy, it looks like he never smoked. “How’s that for a ‘get out of jail free’ card?” Ronnie quips. “Somebody up there likes me.”

If people are looking for a lot of Rolling Stones concert footage in this documentary, they won’t find it, probably because of licensing issues. There’s a brief clip of the Rolling Stones performing “When the Whip Comes Down” in 2018. But most of the on-stage footage is of Ronnie as a solo artist or archival footage of Ronnie in bands that he was in before he joined the Rolling Stones.

Therefore, when watching this documentary, expect to see quite a bit of Ronnie Wood and Friends, a bluesy rock group consisting of Ronnie and rotating group of singers and musicians. There’s footage of the group performing “Wee Hours” with Irish singer Imelda May, who’s interviewed in the film.

“Somebody Up There Likes Me” director Figgis appears in the film as an interviewer, which is a documentarian technique that mostly works for this film. During the times it doesn’t work, Figgis comes across as too chummy or star-struck, as if there was an off-camera agreement that he wasn’t going to ask questions that are too probing.

And, for the most part, the questions are fairly lightweight. But Ronnie has such a charismatic personality that he gives answers that tell more than the question asks. He comes across as someone who’s lived a pretty crazy life and has come to terms with a lot of his mistakes.

In one scene, when Ronnie gets a tarot card that reads “Fatal Impudence,” Figgis asks if those words could apply to Ronnie’s life. Ronnie replies, “I’m like Yogi Berra. You come to a fork in the road, take it.”

And when Figgis asks what’s the biggest “fork in the road” for Ronnie, Ronnie says, “It has been my love life. I’ve totally gone for risk.” Figgis asks, “Has that gotten you into a lot of trouble?” Ronnie quips, “It’s gotten me into a lot of pleasure.”

The tabloids have covered the numerous affairs and womanizing in his life before Ronnie married Sally, so the documentary doesn’t rehash all of that. However, it wasn’t all fun and games, since Ronnie admits a lot of people got emotionally hurt along the way. And he also opens up a little bit about the trauma he experienced when he says his “first love” (a girlfriend named Stephanie) tragically died in a car accident.

Ronnie also talks about the importance of apologizing to people he offended, which is a common requirement for people who’ve been in rehab. “You want the situation to resolve without any disastrous consequences,” he adds.

He also admits that he’s got issues with getting older. “I never got past 29 in my head. To be 70 is so weird. It’s so surreal. I didn’t get time would go so quickly. You almost feel cheated that time has gone by.”

In a very “Behind the Music” documentary formula of the rise, fall and redemption of rock stars, Ronnie’s marriage to his wife Sally (whom he married in 2012) is credited with helping him be an upstanding, clean and sober family man. Ronnie and Sally welcomed twin daughters Alice and Gracie in 2016. He has four other kids from his previous two marriages. Sally comments in the documentary: “Ronnie’s a happy person. He’s better sober.”

As for Ronnie’s former and current band mates, Stewart mostly remembers the first gig that the Jeff Beck Group played at the Fillmore East, the band was the opening act for the Grateful Dead. “We wiped the stage with them,” Stewart boasts. He has not-so-fond memories of Peter Grant, who was the Jeff Beck Group’s manager at the time. According to Stewart, Grant was a “bully” who preferred Beck over the other members of the band.

The archival performance footage in the documentary include the Birds (one of Ronnie’s early bands) performing “That’s All I Need You For” in 1964; the Jeff Beck Group performing “Plynth (Water Down the Drain)” in 1967; and the Faces performing “Stay With Me” in 1974. There’s also new documentary footage of Ronnie doing an acoustic performance of the Faces’ 1973 hit “Ooh La La.”

Ronnie shares his often-told story of seeing the Rolling Stones for the first time in 1963, and the band’s performance was inside a tent. Ronnie says that experience changed his life, and he knew from that moment he wanted to be in the Rolling Stones. It took 12 years for that to happen, when Ronnie was asked to be the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones during their 1975 tour, after lead guitarist Mick Taylor abruptly quit the Rolling Stones.

Ronnie was described at the time as being “on loan from the Faces” during that 1975 tour, but the writing was on the wall, since the Faces were on the verge of breaking up that year anyway. Ronnie officially became a member of the Rolling Stones in 1976, but it wasn’t 1990 that he was became a full business partner in the band. The documentary doesn’t mention all of the behind-the-scenes legal wrangling that Ronnie went through to get to becoming a full band partner in the Rolling Stones. He talks about it in his memoir “Ronnie.”

Jagger says of Ronnie joining the Rolling Stones: “We really wanted Ronnie. He fit in very quickly.” The gig was so coveted that Rolling Stones drummer Watts says that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page even auditioned to be in the Stones, even though Led Zeppelin was the biggest band rival to the Rolling Stones at that time.

Richards, who is the Rolling Stones band mate who’s closest to Ronnie, says in the documentary about Ronnie joining the band: “It was pre-destined, in a way.” And he describes their longtime friendship: “We’ve always had a friendly rivalry … The thing is with Ronnie, you’re such good mates, you can call each other any name under the sun, and it doesn’t matter.”

Jagger says the Rolling Stones benefited from Ronnie’s impish sense of humor on stage too: “These arena shows became slightly more humorous because of Ronnie’s personality. Ronnie brought a sense of fun to it.”

But there were dark periods for Ronnie too, particularly his longtime drug addiction (mostly to cocaine) and alcoholism. Through the ups and downs, rehab stints and relapses, “Mick never gave up on him,” says Watts. And when your best friend in the band is Richards (another notorious drug addict/alcoholic, who’s only admitted to quitting heroin), it’s no wonder that it took to so long for Ronnie to get clean and sober.

Avid fans of the Rolling Stones won’t learn anything new from watching this documentary. However, people who aren’t familiar with Ronnie might be surprised at how multifaceted he is outside of the Rolling Stones. “Somebody Up There Likes Me” goes out of its way to show the process of Ronnie creating some of his artwork, because it’s clear that he wants to be known as more than just a musician. This documentary doesn’t go deep into Ronnie’s psyche, but it scratches just enough beneath his public image for people to have a better understanding of who he is.

Eagle Rock Entertainment released “Somebody Up There Likes Me” in select U.S. virtual cinemas on September 18, 2020. The movie’s release on digital, Blu-ray and DVD is on October 9, 2020. “Somebody Up There Likes Me” was released in the United Kingdom in 2019.

Review: ‘The Burnt Orange Heresy,’ starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland

March 6, 2020

by Carla Hay

Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang in “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (Photo by Jose Haro)

“The Burnt Orange Heresy” 

Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi

Culture Representation: Taking place in Italy and briefly in New York City, the dramatic film “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (which has an all-white cast) tells an intriguing story of secrets and lies in the privileged world of collecting fine art.

Culture Clash: It’s not uncommon for some of the characters to break laws in order to keep up appearances.

Culture Audience: “The Burnt Orange Heresy” will appeal primarily to fans of arthouse cinema who like thrillers about social climbing and people who play guessing games about their true selves.

Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki in “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (Photo by Jose Haro)

It’s utterly fitting that rare paintings are the fine art that’s the focus of the noir-ish thriller “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” Because just like a blank canvas, many of the characters in the film have personalities and identities that can shift on a whim and can be designed and painted over in a certain way, in order to be appealing to other people. The movie also takes a blistering look at the fickle and highly subjective nature of fine-art collecting, which places more value on brand names and how art pieces are marketed rather than on the art itself.

In the beginning of the story, which takes place mostly in Italy, viewers meet central character James Figueras (played by Claes Bang), a charismatic Brit who’s an art critic and author. He’s single and living alone living in Milan. The movie’s opening alternates between James giving a lecture to a group of about 50 people (mostly elderly tourists) and his cynical rehearsal of his lecture while he’s at home.

During his speaking appearance, James shows an abstract painting and tells a compelling story about the painting’s artist. James says the artist was a young Norwegian man named Nils, who was 16 when the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940. Nils and his twin sister Nora were kept in a concentration camp, and Nils’ portrait paintings for the Nazis were what helped keep the siblings alive. However, Nils was so ashamed that he was forced to do paintings for the Nazis that he vowed never to paint a human or use a paint brush again when he created paintings. (Nora tragically died of consumption in 1955.)

James then says that the painting he has on display during the lecture is the last painting from Nils. He then asks the audieence how many of them would want to buy the painting. Nearly all of them raise their hands. James then reveals that he really did the painting, not Nils, and that almost everything he said about the painting and Nils is a lie. James then asks the audience how many of them would still want to buy the painting. Almost no one raises their hand, except for a young woman sitting in the back of the room.

James tells the audience that this delibrate hoax during the lecture was designed to show the audience how someone’s statement about art carries a great deal of weight in how art is valued. He says that it demonstrates the power of the critic and “why you should be careful around someone like me.” It’s a self-serving concept because James is the author of a book called “The Power of the Critic,” which he happily autographs for the tourists who buy the book after his lecture.

The young female tourist at the back of the room who was the only one to raise her hand after the hoax was revealed approaches James after the lecture. They flirt in a way that indicates that they’re sexually attracted to each other. Her name is Berenice Hollis (played by Elizabeth Debicki), and she’s an American visiting in Italy. After some more flirting, it’s no surprise that James and Berenice end up in bed together at James’ place.

The morning after, as Berenice gets ready to leave, she essentially tells James that she had fun, but she sees their encounter as a one-night stand. James offers her an “upper” pill from a stash he keeps in a pill bottle, and she takes the pill. James then tells her that he’s been asked to go to the Lake Como estate of Joseph Campbell (played by Mick Jagger, in his first movie acting role since 2002’s “The Man From Elysian Fields”), a wealthy art collector. James doesn’t really know why he’s been summoned to Joseph’s villa, but he thinks there’s a possible job opportunity in it for him. James impulsively invites Berenice to join him on the trip, even though they barely know each other. Without much hesitation, she says yes.

As James and Berenice take the scenic drive to Lake Como, a voice mail message being left at James’ empty home can be heard in a voiceover. The female caller leaving the message tells James that his check has bounced and to call her back to sort out the issue. All of this happens within the first 15 minutes of “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” Viewers now know three more things about James: He’s got a drug problem, he’s got a money problem, and he’s got a problem with telling the truth. What could possibly go wrong?

When they arrive at Joseph’s grand villa and are waiting for him in the parlor, James comments to Berenice about the paintings hanging on the wall. He smugly comments that Joseph over-paid for one of the paintings, just as Joseph walks in and hears the tail end of the conversation. Despite overhearing James’ insult, Joseph greets them enthusiastically and sizes up his guests immediately.

It’s here that Berenice reveals more about herself than she did when she was alone with James, because Joseph is the one to ask Berenice about her background. Berenice says she’s from Duluth, Minnesota, but she’s vague about what she does for a living. It’s clear that she wants to fit in with her upper-class surroundings, and she might be hiding something about her past.

James and Berenice are invited to dinner with Joseph, who causally says that he married into wealth, and the estate really belongs to his wife, who’s away because she’s traveling with their children. In order to disarm his visitors, who clearly come from a different social class, manipulative Joseph has revealed that he doesn’t come from a rich family, so that his guests will feel more at ease with him. The tactic works. When James and Joseph are alone together, Joseph tells him the real reason why he was invited for a visit.

Joseph has a big secret: A famously reclusive painter has been living in the guest house on the property. Joseph makes James tries to guess who it is before he reveals the painter’s identity. The famous recluse is Jerome Debney, an American who’s somewhat described as the J.D. Salinger of the art world.  Jerome had great success when he was young, but he stopped painting and disappeared at the height of his fame in 1968, after his life’s work was destroyed by a fire. Jerome has been such a recluse for years, that many people in the art world believe the rumor that Jerome is no longer alive.

But now, Jerome has been living in close proximity to Joseph, who doesn’t want to the recluse to know that Joseph is aware of Jerome’s true identity. How has Jerome been able to make money for all of these years as a recluse? Jerome has been getting his income from grants, according to Joseph.

James has been summoned to the estate because Joseph wants James to try to get an interview with Jerome. And why was James chosen out of all of the art journalists in the world? One of Joseph’s servants had observed Jerome reading one of James’ articles and heard Jerome commenting out loud that James was an art critic whom he admired.

The interview has an ulterior motive: James is supposed to get close enough to Jerome to steal one of the secret paintings that Joseph is sure that Jerome has done while in seclusion. Joseph hasn’t actually seen any such painting, but he’s certain at least one exists. Joseph says that James will be richly rewarded for this theft, which Joseph plans to pass off as a long-lost Debney painting that might be the only one left in the world.

A skeptical James asks Joseph what’s in it for him if he can only get an interview with Debney, but not a painting. Joseph then turns sinister and tells James that he has to get the painting, or else Joseph will reveal information about James that could completely ruin James’ career. (The blackmail details won’t be revealed in this review.) Joseph also tells James that he knows about an embezzlement scandal from James’ past and that James is having financial difficulties because the scandal damaged his career. It’s why a disgraced James has been reduced to barely living in the margins of the art world by giving art lectures to tourists.

The most contrived part of this movie’s story is how James ends up meeting Jerome (played by Donald Sutherland), a man with a refined demeanor, a Southern lilt to his voice and a mysterious past. While James and Berenice are lounging out by the pool, Jerome happens to casually stroll into the pool area and strike up a conversation with these two strangers, as if he’s a neighbor popping over for a visit anytime he pleases. It’s very out-of-character for a man who’s supposedly been hiding from the world for decades, so viewers will have to suspend their disbelief that Jerome just conveniently walked into James’ life in this manner.

However, the movie’s plot isn’t about the search for Jerome, because he’s already been found. When Jerome first meets James and Berenice, Jerome doesn’t know if they’re aware of his true identity as a famous painter. But James can’t hide being star-struck, and he makes it clear that he knows exactly who Jerome is. In turn, when James introduces himself, Jerome recognizes him as the art critic he admires.

James doesn’t waste time in asking Jerome for an interview, but Jerome doesn’t say yes so easily. He makes James do swimming laps in the pool before he’ll give an answer. James is reluctant at first to do the laps, but Jerome tells him that the longer he hesitates, the more laps he’ll have to do to get the interview.

After he’s sufficiently humiliated James, Jerome surprises James and Berenice by inviting them on a boat ride, followed by a meal back at his place. Jerome says that James can interview him during this excursion. The reason for Jerome’s generosity has less to do with James and more to do with Berenice. Jerome is quite taken with Berenice and relishes spending more time with her. And if she’s with another man, so be it. It’s easy to see why Jerome, as a lonely old man who craves female companionship, would agree to do the interview if Berenice is part of the experience.

The interview is the catalyst for some tension-filled twists and turns in the story. More secrets are revealed, and more lies are told. And the resulting actions will make viewers wonder what they would do if they were in the same situation. (The title of the movie is also explained during the story.)

Throughout the movie, director Giuseppe Capotondi skillfully conveys a tone to the movie that accurately reflects how pretentious the main characters are in the film. They appear to be casually blasé about their connections to the power and privilege in the world of highly priced fine art, but underneath, they’re all desperate for something.

James is desperate for a comeback that will make him and rich and famous. Joseph is desperate for a Debney painting that will considerably elevate Joseph’s status in the art world. Berenice is desperate for validation by people who are more sophisticated than she is. Jerome is desperate to find a human connection after years of isolating himself from the world.

All of the actors play their roles very well by convincingly portraying these superficial yet complicated people, who put on airs that they’re wonderful, yet in reality they’re all deeply flawed. Jagger, in particular, seems to take a delicious relish to his role, since he undoubtedly knows many people like Joseph Campbell. Sutherland (who is Canadian in real life) has played the courtly Southern American gentleman before, but his Jerome Debney character is a little more troubled than he first seems to be,

Bang (who is Danish in real life) has perhaps the movie’s most transparent character to viewers, since we see early on that James is prone to corruption, has a drug problem, and is in dire financial straights. However, the way Bang plays him, there are little glimmers of possibility that James isn’t completely selfish and he might actually be falling in love with Berenice. Debicki (who is Australian in real life) adeptly handles the nuances of her Berenice character, who will keep people guessing about her levels of morality and emotional intelligence.

“The Burnt Orange Heresy” screenplay by Scott B. Smith, based on the book of the same name by Charles Willeford, changes the movie’s era and location from 1970s Florida to modern-day Italy. It’s a wise revision because a Lake Como estate is a more glamorous setting befitting a wealthy international art collector. And the art world has changed dramatically since the 1970s, because the stakes are much higher and the brand names of well-known contemporary artists have reached new levels of fame, thanks to the Internet.

At one point in the movie, Jerome talks about the proverbial masks that people put on to hide their true selves and present another version of themselves to the world. He admits to Berenice in a candid conversation how he’s one of those people who’s put on so many layers of masks, he might not know anymore who he really is underneath it all. More than the quest for a rare painting, “The Burnt Orange Heresy” is about the lengths that people will go to keep putting on those masks and the desperation that results if one of those masks threatens to fall off.

Sony Pictures Classics released “The Burnt Orange Heresy” in New York City and Los Angeles on March 6, 2020. The movie’s U.S. release expands to more cities on March 13, 2020.

Review: ‘Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont’

January 7, 2020

by Carla Hay

(Image courtesy of Vision Films)

“Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont”

Directed by Tom O’Dell

Culture Representation: A documentary about the disastrous and tragic Altamont concert headlined by the Rolling Stones in 1969, “Days of Rage” focuses on the era’s youthful counterculture movement and the business of rock music, as represented by white men who are British and American.

Culture Clash: In addition to showing a history of the 1960s counterculture and Generation Gap, the movie also examines how violence affected the factions of pop culture that were involved in the Altamont concert.

Culture Audience: “Days of Rage” will appeal primarily to Rolling Stones fans and people interested in learning more about how the Altamont concert became a notorious example of the dark side of the 1960s counterculture movement.

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger (pictured at far left) on stage at the 1969 Altamont concert, in a photo still from “Days: of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont” (Photo courtesy of Vision Films)

The first thing you should know about the absorbing documentary “Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont” is that the Rolling Stones are not interviewed for this film. The second thing you should know is that the movie is not a rehash of “Gimme Shelter,” the 1970 documentary from director brothers Albert and David Maysles that chronicled the Rolling Stones’ ill-fated free Altamont concert in the San Francisco area on December 6, 1969. Even without the Rolling Stones’ participation, “Days of Rage” is a riveting historical account that explores much more than the Rolling Stones’ performance at Altamont concert. The movie takes an overall look at the circumstances and culture that led up to this tragic and violent event, during which an African American man named Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death in the audience by Hell’s Angels gang members while the Rolling Stones were performing “Sympathy for the Devil.” (The band didn’t perform the song for years after the tragedy happened.)

People who are interested in this documentary, which clocks in at a little over 100 minutes, should also know that the descriptions of the Altamont concert don’t come until the last third of the movie. The first two-thirds of the movie are a deep dive into how rock music and youth culture influenced each other in the 1960s, and led to the rise of the era’s counterculture movement. The 1960s counterculture was defined by rebellion against traditional establishment customs, and it included Vietnam War protests, liberal/left-wing politics, sexual liberation and rampant drug use, with marijuana and LSD being popular drugs of choice. Even though Altamont and the Rolling Stones are used as a hook in the title to sell this documentary, the movie is really about issues much larger than a rock band and a concert. The background information on how the 1960s counterculture happened might not be very revealing to aficionados who already know about the counterculture movement, but the documentary is a compelling visual journey into this part of history, regardless of how much knowledge people have about it.

Fortunately, director Tom O’Dell, who also wrote and edited “Days of Rage,” has constructed the story in such a fascinating way that viewers shouldn’t mind how long it takes for the film to get to the details of Altamont, since the preceding content provides much-needed context to explain how the Rolling Stones ended up in the most tragic moment of the band’s history. Unlike many unauthorized films about famous entertainers that are released direct to video, this isn’t a shoddy, “fly by night” money grab that interviews people with questionable credibility who have no connection to the artist. Two of the key people who were in the Rolling Stones’ inner circle in 1969 and who were at Altamont are interviewed for “Days of Rage”: former Rolling Stones tour manager Sam Cutler and Ronnie Schneider, who was a producer of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour.

The quality of “Days of Rage” is on par with a news documentary on CNN or BBC. Much of the Rolling Stones archival video footage in the documentary is from ABKCO, the company that owns the rights to most of the band’s 1960s recordings and official video archives. There are also clips from Rolling Stones documentaries, such as “Gimme Shelter,” “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Stones in the Park.” Given that “Days of Rage” is a low-budget independent film, the filmmakers wouldn’t have been able to afford the rights to license original recordings of Rolling Stones songs for use in the documentary, so generic facsimile music is used as the soundtrack instead, except for one snippet of the original recording of the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.”

The documentary also includes the expected representation of authors and journalists (a mix of Brits and Americans) who provide commentary. They include “The Rolling Stones Discover America” author Michael Lydon, who attended the Altamont concert as a journalist; Rolling Stone magazine contributor Anthony DeCurtis; journalist Nigel Williamson, who’s known for his work for Uncut and Billboard magazines; “Altamont” author Joel Selvin, who was the San  Francisco Chronicle’s pop-music critic from 1972 to 2009; Grateful Dead historian Peter Richardson; “Rolling Stones: Off the Record” author Mark Paytress; photographer Gered Mankowitz, who took some of the most iconic photos of the Rolling Stones in the 1960s; “1968 in America” author Joel Kaiser; and Keith Altham, who was a writer/editor at NME from 1964 to 1967, and who later became an entertainment publicist whose clients included the Rolling Stones. All of these talking heads provide articulate and insightful viewpoints. The documentary also benefits from the appealing British narration of Thomas Arnold.

The first third of the movie delves into the 1960s British Invasion (rock/pop acts from Great Britain taking over the American charts), the influential London youth culture, the Generation Gap and the Rolling Stones’ image as the rebellious antithesis to the more family-friendly Beatles. It was an image that was carefully crafted by Andrew Loog Oldham, a former publicist who was the Rolling Stones’ manager/producer from 1964 to 1967, when he was ousted in favor of American manager Allen Klein, whose background was in accounting. It was Klein who was a key player in the Rolling Stones getting lucrative record deals and becoming a top touring act, but he is described in most historical accounts of the Stones as a greedy bully who was involved in legal battles with the Stones for years after they fired him in 1969. (Klein, who died in 2009, founded the aforementioned ABKCO.)

The second third of the movie covers the rise of the counterculture in the mid-to-late 1960s, particularly in San Francisco, the home base of the Grateful Dead, which used Hell’s Angels gang members as peaceful security employees during the band’s concerts. (The Hell’s Angels were far from peaceful at Altamont.) All of these changes in society took place during the rise of LSD gurus Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary; California’s influential 1967 mass gatherings the Human Be-In (in San Francisco) and the Monterey Pop Festival; increasingly violent political protests; and the 1968 assassinations of civil-rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

During this era, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (who had almost parallel careers in the 1960s) were part of the soundtracks to millions of people’s lives. The documentary notes the contrast between the two bands in the pivotal year of 1967: While the Beatles triumphed with the universally praised, artful masterpiece album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and with anthems such as “All You Need Is Love,” the Rolling Stones stumbled with the critically panned album “Their Satanic Majesties Request” and the sardonic “We Love You” single, which failed to resonate with audiences on a wide level. The Rolling Stones were further sidelined in 1967 by legal problems for lead singer Mick Jagger, rhythm guitarist Keith Richards (the two chief songwriters of the Rolling Stones) and lead guitarist Brian Jones, who all got busted for drugs, resulting in jail time and scandalous trials.

But with civil unrest happening in many parts of the world, the Stones returned with a vengeance to the top of their game, marking the beginning of what many music historians and Stones fans consider to be the band’s best and most creative period in the late 1960s to early 1970s. The zenith of the Rolling Stones began in 1968 with the release of the single “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and the “Beggars Banquet” album, which included other Stones classics such as “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man.” By 1969, the Stones were ready to tour again, this time with new guitarist Mick Taylor, the replacement for Rolling Stones co-founder Jones, who died by drowning on June 3, 1969, less than a month after he left the band. It was the first major lineup change to the Rolling Stones since the band began making records in 1963. The lineup was rounded out by drummer Charlie Watts and bass player Bill Wyman.

The Rolling Stones’ first concert with Taylor was a massive free show (with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people in attendance) at London’s Hyde Park on July 5, 1969, with the concert’s focus changing into a tribute to Jones because of his unexpected death. Even though the Hyde Park show was generally considered one of the worst concerts the Rolling Stones ever performed (their playing was out-of-tune and ragged), the show was a peaceful event with security provided by the British Hell’s Angels. The Hyde Park concert planted the seed for the idea of the Rolling Stones headlining a similar gigantic free concert in America, especially after the Woodstock Festival in August of 1969 became a cultural phenomenon. The Rolling Stones did not perform at Woodstock or the Monterey Pop Festival, and the documentary mentions that Jagger was particularly keen on performing at a huge counterculture event in America.

And when the Grateful Dead’s co-manager Rock Scully suggested that the Rolling Stones headline a free, one-day, Woodstock-inspired festival in San Francisco, with security provided by the Hell’s Angels, plans were set in motion for the concert that would become Altamont. In addition to the Rolling Stones, other bands on the bill were the Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane and the quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. All four of these California-based acts except for CSN&Y member Neil Young had performed at Woodstock. The Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” album (which included the classic single “Gimme Shelter”) was scheduled to be released just one day before the Altamont concert, which was essentially supposed to be a high-profile launching pad for the album.

The documentary points out that the British Hell’s Angels who provided security at the Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park concert were pussycats compared to their violent counterparts in America. Selvin further notes that the San Francisco chapter of the Hell’s Angels that the Grateful Dead worked with were much more benevolent than the “thugs” of the San Jose chapter of the Hell’s Angels who ended up committing the majority of the mayhem at the Altamont concert. The festival was so mismanaged that it never would have happened by today’s standards, due to all the present-day safety/insurance requirements and liability prevention policies that most U.S. cities, concert venues and promoters have. Plans to have the concert at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco were scrapped after the city refused a permit because the park wasn’t large enough for the expected audience size. The concert location was then changed to Sears Point Raceway in suburban Sonoma, but two days before the show, that concert site was cancelled after the Sears Point Raceway owners demanded exorbitant fees that the concert promoters weren’t willing to pay.

Out of sheer desperation, the concert was moved to the Altamont Speedway in suburban Livermore. The site, which was in a state of disrepair, was woefully ill-equipped to handle the crowd of an estimated 300,000 people who showed up. There were major problems with inadequate space, sanitation, food and medical facilities. Making matters worse, the stage was dangerously close to the crowd. At the Sears Point Raceway, the stage had been safely located at the top of a steep incline, so it was inaccessible to the audience. At the Altamont Speedway, the opposite was true—the stage had to be built at the bottom of an incline—so it was very easy for audience members to slide down the incline and reach the bottom of the landfill pit where the stage was located. Attempts to put barricades around the incline proved to be ineffective.

Even with these production problems and the large quantities of illegal drugs taken by the audience, people interviewed in the documentary say that the concert would have been relatively peaceful if there hadn’t been a bad group of Hell’s Angels inflicting an excessive and disturbing amount of violence on innocent people. The documentary has a harrowing account of the inescapable sounds of people being beaten with pipes and other weapons by the gang members. And a few band members weren’t spared from the violence either. Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin was beaten when he tried to stop a Hell’s Angels assault. Jagger, upon arriving at the concert site, was punched in the face by a drugged-out audience member. Band members pleaded several times on stage for the violence to stop, but those pleas were essentially ignored, and it wasn’t unusual for a Hell’s Angel member to get up on stage and threaten the performers.

The Grateful Dead got so freaked out by the violence that they refused to perform and immediately left the area. Schneider, a nephew of former Rolling Stones manager Klein, was one of the chief people responsible for promoting the concert, and he partially blames the Grateful Dead for the escalating Altamont violence, because the band abandoned the show. Schneider believes that if the Grateful Dead had played, the band’s laid-back jamming would have mellowed out the audience. Instead, there was nothing to fill the long time gap left by the abrupt departure of the Grateful Dead, and the audience had to wait for hours before the Stones arrived, further ramping up the tensions and violence.

There are graphic descriptions of what happened during and after the murder of audience member Hunter. According to eyewitnesses, his bloodied body was shockingly placed on stage and then backstage during the Rolling Stones’ performance, in order for his body not to be further violated by the angry and out-of-control Hell’s Angels. These descriptions are not in the “Gimme Shelter” documentary, which rightfully edited out the most disturbing footage of the murder. (Hell’s Angel member Alan Passaro, who was arrested for the stabbing, claimed self-defense because Hunter had pulled out a gun. Passaro was later tried and acquitted of the murder in 1971.) Some of the commentators, especially Selvin, want it to be known that the Rolling Stones perpetuated a myth that the band didn’t know about the murder until after their performance. Selvin said that the lights were so bright on stage (since the concert was being filmed) and the audience was so close to the stage that it was impossible for people on stage not to see all the violence being committed just a few feet in front of them.

The documentary also includes a photo of Jagger looking at a group of people standing around what is said to be Hunter’s dead body on stage. According to Selvin, it was Jagger’s decision for the Rolling Stones to continue performing, even after Jagger knew that someone had been murdered during the band’s set. Since Jagger has not publicly discussed the murder in detail, and he’s not interviewed for this documentary, his side of the story isn’t presented. However, the implication from the Rolling Stones insiders (Cutler and Schneider) who were at the Altamont concert and who were interviewed for this film is that Jagger probably thought that the violence would get worse if the Stones didn’t finish their performance.

Richards briefly told his memories of Altamont in his 2010 memoir, “Life,” but he did not go into any of the gruesome details. Wyman (who quit the band in 1993) ended his 1990 memoir, “Stone Alone,” with the death of Jones, who died six months before Altamont happened. Wyman barely mentioned Altamont in his 2019 biographical documentary “The Quiet One.” Taylor (who quit the Rolling Stones in 1974) and Watts have also not opened up publicly about how much of the murder and body disposal they saw.

Even if you’re a die-hard Rolling Stones fan who’s read numerous accounts of the Altamont concert or if you’ve seen “Gimme Shelter,” watching “Days of Rage” will still make an impact in showing how the peace and love dream of the ’60s counterculture turned into a sickening and brutal nightmare that’s also a cautionary and very tragic tale.

Vision Films released “Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont” on VOD and digital on January 7, 2020.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘I Want My MTV’

May 3, 2019

by Carla Hay

Animation image from MTV in “I Want My MTV” (Photo by Candy Kugel)

“I Want My MTV”

Directed by Tyler Measom and Patrick Waldrop

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 1, 2019.

The documentary film “I Want My MTV” should come with a warning that the movie is primarily the story of MTV’s first decade in the 1980s. Even with that narrow view, the film misses the mark in many areas. The documentary relies too heavily on the words of the self-congratulatory executives who founded MTV, instead of taking a more responsible, investigative approach and seeking out a more diverse array of perspectives of people who are also part of MTV’s history. The film delivers if you want a predictable and superficial ride down memory lane—commentary on artists and old music videos are expected—but this documentary glosses over and ignores a lot of MTV’s real history.

The story of MTV (Music Television) has been already told in several books, news reports and articles. The network had humble beginnings, because it had a tiny start-up budget, and many people (including a few of its early executives) thought MTV was a bad idea that would fail. MTV’s early network-identification promo video that had NASA footage of the 1969 moon landing was prompted out of necessity because the footage was in the public domain (in other words, free), and MTV couldn’t really afford a fancy ad campaign at the time.  Launched on August 1, 1981, MTV started out as a 24-hour music network that initially wasn’t even available in a lot of big cities, such as New York, where MTV is headquartered.

MTV’s lack of availability on many cable systems was the impetus for the famous “I Want My MTV” ad campaign where major artists (such as Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, The Police, David Bowie and The Who’s Pete Townshend) said the “I Want My MTV” slogan on camera, and urged people to call their local cable companies to add MTV to their channel lineups. Les Garland, who used to be a programming executive at MTV, takes credit for getting Jagger to do an “I Want My MTV” spot, by essentially convincing the money-minded Jagger that he would be filming a promotional video, not an ad. As a joke, Garland said he paid Jagger just $1 after the spot was filmed.

MTV’s music library also started off very small, as most of the initial videos available were from British artists (who were used to making music videos for shows like “Top of the Pops”) or American artists whose music videos usually consisted of cheaply filmed live performances with the studio recordings dubbed in post-production. The first two videos played on MTV exemplified these types of clips: the futuristic “Video Killed the Radio Star” from The Buggles (a British New Wave band) and the simple performance clip “You Better Run” from Pat Benatar, who was America’s top female rock star at the time.

Several artists who became popular on MTV in the early ‘80s are interviewed in the documentary, such as Benatar and her guitarist/husband Neil Geraldo; Idol; Sting (co-founder of The Police); Eurythmics members Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart; REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin; and Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh. Also interviewed are two of MTV’s original VJs: Mark Goodman (a radio vet who describes his MTV audition process as “a little creepy” because it was in a hotel room, not a TV studio) and Alan Hunter, a self-described failed actor who got the job, despite having a “terrible” audition and no experience in broadcasting or the music industry. (MTV’s other original VJs—Nina Blackwood and Martha Quinn—are not interviewed, although there is archival footage of all the original VJs in the documentary. J.J. Jackson, another original MTV VJ, died of a heart attack in 2004, at the age of 62.)

To its credit, the documentary does not shy away from the controversy over MTV’s programming decisions. In its first two years, the network was frequently accused of racism for not playing enough black artists. MTV’s all-white first executive team—which included John Lack, Bob Pittman, Gail Sparrow, Fred Seibert, Tom Freston, Judy McGrath, John Sykes and Andrew Setos (Garland joined MTV later, after he had a long stint in radio)—are all interviewed in this documentary. Various excuses are given for excluding top-selling black artists from MTV’s playlists in the network’s early years.

One frequently given excuse is that the original concept of MTV was that it was supposed to be a rock’n’roll music channel. However, it’s a weak excuse because among the few black artists played on MTV in its early years were non-rock acts such as Musical Youth, Eddy Grant and Herbie Hancock. Meanwhile, bigger artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Rick James and Earth, Wind & Fire were being ignored by MTV.

The documentary includes a clip from the notorious 1983 MTV interview that Bowie did with Goodman, where Bowie asks Goodman why so few black artists are played on MTV. Goodman uncomfortably explains that too many black artists on MTV might scare the audience, especially those in “middle America.” It’s an incredibly racist belief, not to mention a condescending insult that wrongfully stereotypes people in the Midwest as automatically more racist than people who live on the East Coast and West Coast. Bowie’s withering stare and curt response in the interview speak volumes of his disgust. In the documentary, a present-day Goodman admits to being embarrassed about the interview all these years later, and he offers a sheepish apology for it.

The Bowie/Goodman interview exposed the mentality of MTV executives at the time, but the former MTV executives interviewed for this documentary who were in charge of making those decisions are still indignant and in denial over their racism. It’s not too surprising, because people who want to be thought of as “liberal” and “open-minded” don’t want to admit on camera that they’ve been racist. The former MTV executives are quick to pat themselves on the back in this documentary (Sparrow calls herself and the other executives “trend-setters, risk-takers and rebels”), but they don’t properly acknowledge their old-fashioned bigoted beliefs that prevented a lot of people of color from being part of MTV in its early years.

One example of this hypocrisy is when Sparrow, with hatred still etched on her face, talks about how Rick James’ “Super Freak” video was unacceptable to MTV at the time because James reminded her of a pimp and she didn’t like the way women were portrayed in the video. Yet, she doesn’t mention that MTV was willing to play videos from numerous (white) heavy-metal bands that often showed women in much more degrading scenarios, such as barely clothed or locked up in cages. Maybe MTV executives like Sparrow just didn’t like to see a music video of a black man being a sex symbol with women of different races. James was an outspoken critic of MTV at the time for not playing enough black artists, so it’s likely that MTV also had an unofficial ban on James, out of spite.

One of the most irresponsible parts of the “I Want My MTV” documentary is how it fails to give the full story of how Michael Jackson broke the racial barrier at MTV. Pittman tries to rewrite MTV history in this documentary by saying about the racism accusations: “Michael Jackson single-handedly pulled us out of that controversy,” and that it was MTV’s idea to “start courting Michael Jackson.” He also makes it sound like MTV had the vision to play Jackson’s videos right when his “Thriller” album was hitting big. What Pittman and the documentary did not talk about was the well-documented fact that CBS/Epic Records (namely, record-label chief Walter Yetnikoff) demanded that MTV play Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video or else the record company would boycott MTV. When MTV caved in, and saw that Jackson became the network’s most-requested artist, that opened the doors for more black artists to be played on MTV.

Yetnikoff, who was not interviewed for this documentary, told more details about this controversy in his 2001 memoir, “Howling at the Moon,” as well as in several media interviews. His credible account of MTV playing Michael Jackson only after MTV was threatened with a boycott has also been verified by numerous non-MTV people in the music industry who were involved at the time, none of whom are interviewed in this documentary.

The movie mentions that as MTV’s popularity grew in the 1980s, tensions grew between MTV and record companies because the record companies eventually wanted MTV to pay licensing fees for the videos. However, this documentary did not interview anyone who worked at record companies at the time to give their perspective. Video-promotion executives, who were on the front lines of music-industry relations with MTV, are shamefully left out of this documentary. Unlike some big-name artists, these past and present record-company executives are not that hard to get for interviews, so not including them in this film just shows that these documentary filmmakers were too lazy to get this valuable insight or they just didn’t care.

And even though “I Want My MTV” addresses the issue of MTV excluding many top-selling black artists in the network’s early years, ironically, the documentary does some noticeable racial excluding of its own, since no women of color are interviewed in the documentary at all. The movie focuses primarily on MTV in the ‘80s, and gives a spotlight to a long list of artists from that era, so it’s mind-boggling that this documentary erases black female artists who had a big impact on MTV in the ‘80s—such as Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Salt-N-Pepa—by not giving a spotlight to any of these women of color.

No disrespect to Tegan and Sara (who were never really big artists on MTV but are interviewed in this documentary anyway), but there are plenty of women of color who were more influential in MTV’s history who could have been interviewed for this documentary but weren’t. The few people of color in this film who are interviewed are black men who talk about hip-hop or “Yo! MTV Raps”: Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniel, who says that Run-DMC was probably the first popular MTV rap act because Run-DMC incorporated a lot of rock music in its songs.

MTV’s influence in hard rock/heavy-metal’s popularity in the mid-to-late 1980s—as well as many of the genre’s sexist videos that got heavy airtime on MTV—are also addressed in the documentary. On the one hand, former MTV executive McGrath says that all that sexist content was “demoralizing.” On the other hand, she and other executives were responsible for choosing to give it so much airtime on MTV. Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video (which shows model Bobbie Brown being blasted with a fire hose by members of the band wearing firefighter hats) is mentioned in the documentary as an example of the types of MTV-approved rock videos where women were frequently treated as nothing more than playthings and props. Poison lead singer Bret Michaels, who’s interviewed in the documentary, says the popular MTV videos that Poison made were all in good fun.

Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson offers a different perspective of how the testosterone-fueled, often-sexist hard rock videos that MTV favored had an effect on her own career. She and her lead-singer sister Ann Wilson (who co-founded the rock band Heart) became successful with Heart in the mid-‘70s, when they didn’t have to wear revealing clothing to sell records. But by the mid-‘80s, Heart’s record company was pressuring them to make sexpot videos with cleavage-baring outfits that the Wilson sisters say they now regret doing. Nancy Wilson says that a lot of that pressure was because of MTV’s preference of showing rock videos with scantily clad women.

Music-video directors are given minimal scrutiny in the documentary. Mark Pellington, an early MTV hire, is interviewed, and says he was hired even though he had no experience at the time. A few music-video directors who went on to become major film directors are barely mentioned in the documentary, such as David Fincher and Michael Bay. However, the film does talk about how Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video (directed by John Landis) was a game-changer that impacted how videos were made, as budgets became larger and concepts became more elaborate.

In addition to “Thriller,” other music videos that are mentioned as the most-influential of the 1980s include a-ha’s “Take on Me,” Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” And although there are numerous artists whose careers were boosted because their videos got played on MTV, the documentary mentions that a few artists had their careers damaged by this exposure. Billy Squier is singled out in particular, for his 1984 “Rock Me Tonite” video (in which he awkwardly dances and slithers around in a “Flashdance”-styled ripped tank top), which ruined his rock credibility, and his career was never the same.

The documentary shows that the end of MTV’s ’80s golden era was around 1987, when some of the original team of network executives and VJs began to leave. It was also around this time that MTV began introducing more non-music programs, such as the game show “Remote Control,” which had a then-unknown Adam Sandler as a cast member.

As former MTV executive Freston says in the documentary, reality TV was “a blessing and a curse” for MTV. Grammy-winning musician Jack Antonoff adds that he (just like many other people who grew up with MTV) became frustrated with the decrease in music content on MTV over the years. The documentary also interviews OK Go, Good Charlotte twins Benji and Joel Madden and indie rock twins Tegan and Sara to offer their perspectives of musicians who were toddlers or weren’t even born when MTV was launched. (By 2010, MTV removed the words “music television” from its logo.)

One of the biggest flaws in the documentary is how it barely mentions the impact of the annual MTV Video Music Awards, which launched in 1984. Many of MTV’s biggest pop-culture moments came from the MTV VMAs. Perhaps the filmmakers couldn’t get the rights to a lot of VMA footage, but that shouldn’t have prevented the documentary from giving more time to discuss the VMAs, other than a passing mention.

Because the focus of “I Want My MTV” is so heavily concentrated on 1980s-era MTV, the documentary breezes through mentions of MTV’s post-1980s programming, such as “The Real World,” “Singled Out” and “Jersey Shore.” Artists who became popular on MTV after the ‘80s are barely acknowledged, so don’t expect to see anything significant about Eminem, Nirvana, the Spice Girls, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Sean Combs, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears or any boy bands. Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell and Tori Amos are among the few ’90s-era artists who are interviewed in the documentary. It’s briefly mentioned at the end of the film that YouTube  (which launched in 2005) has significantly decreased MTV’s influence, and YouTube is now the main outlet where people see music videos.

“I Want My MTV” could have been a better documentary if directors Tyler Measom and Patrick Waldrop didn’t let the film be dominated by executives who haven’t worked at MTV in years, and if the filmmakers included a wider variety of people whose careers were also significantly impacted by MTV. In order to do a truly comprehensive history of MTV, the documentary probably should have been an episodic series instead of a feature-length film. “I Want My MTV” also comes at a time when a lot of people don’t want MTV, because the network just isn’t that relevant to pop culture as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. But for people nostalgic about MTV’s glory days and looking for a thorough examination of MTV’s history, this documentary is ultimately an incomplete disappointment with a lot of valuable perspectives shut out of the film.

UPDATE: A&E will premiere “I Want My MTV” as part of the “Biography” series on September 8, 2020.

Rolling Stones postpone ‘No Filter’ 2019 tour in North America due to Mick Jagger medical problem

March 30, 2019

by Carla Hay

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones backstage at Deportiva in Havana, Cuba on March 25, 2016. Pictured from left to right: Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards. (Photo by Dave J. Hogan)

The Rolling Stones have postponed all of their North American stadium concerts that were scheduled from April to July 2019, because lead singer Mick Jagger is being treated for an undisclosed medical problem. Tickets for the band’s postponed stadium concerts on the “No Filter” tour will be valid for the rescheduled dates. However, the Rolling Stones have canceled their headlining performance on May 5 at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

A spokesperson for the band issued this statement: “Mick Jagger has been advised by doctors that he cannot go on tour at this time as he needs medical treatment. The doctors have advised Mick that he is expected to make a complete recovery so that he can get back on stage as soon as possible.”

Jagger added in a statement, “I hate letting our fans down and I’m hugely disappointed to have to postpone the tour but am looking forward to getting back on stage as soon as I can.”

In an Instagram post, Jagger made a similar statement: “I’m sorry to our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone.”

The Rolling Stones perform onstage during Desert Trip at The Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, on October 7, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Desert Trip)

Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Keith Richards tweeted: “A big disappointment for everyone but things need to be taken care of and we will see you soon. Mick, we are always there for you!”

Rolling Stones lead guitarist Ronnie Wood tweeted: “We’ll miss you over the next few weeks, but we’re looking forward to seeing you all again very soon. Here’s to Mick ~ thanks for your supportive messages it means so much to us.”

The Rolling Stones ended their seven-year hiatus from touring in 2012, the year of the band’s 50th anniversary. Since 2012, the Stones have done multiple tours, with performances in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Most of the Rolling Stones’ North American concerts in the 21st century have been at arenas, which hold an average of 15,000 to 20,000 people. Stadiums hold an average of 40,000 to 60,000 people. The “No Filter” 2019 shows in North America would have been the Rolling Stones’ first stadium tour of North America since the 1997 “Bridges to Babylon” tour.

In other Rolling Stones news, a 4K Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos restoration of the band’s 1968 TV special “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” will have rare screenings in select Dolby cinemas on April 1, 3, 4 and 5, 2019. (Dates and showtimes vary per theater.) The special, which remained unreleased until 1996, was hosted by the Rolling Stones, and featured performances from the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, the Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull and a one-time-only “supergroup” called the Dirty Mac, consisting of Lennon, Richards, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell (drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience) and Yoko Ono. Tickets and more information can be found at www.rockandrollcircusthefilm.com.

April 1, 2019 UPDATE: Jagger’s medical issue is that he has to undergo surgery to repair a heart valve, according to the Drudge Report. He is scheduled to have the surgery in New York City during the first week of April 2019.

Mick Jagger releases ‘Gotta Get a Grip’ and ‘England Lost,’ his first solo singles in six years

July 27, 2017

by Carla Hay

Mick Jagger (Photo courtesy of CBS)

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger has released two new solo singles: “Get a Grip” and “England Lost.” The videos for the songs premiered on July 27, 2017. They are Jagger’s first solo singles since 2011’s “T.H.E (The Hardest Ever)” featuring Will.i.am and Jennifer Lopez.  T.H.E (The  Hardest Ever)” was a No. 3 hit in the United Kingdom but reached only No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

“Get a Grip” and “England Lost” were released with very little fanfare.  Jagger does not appear in the videos for the songs. Instead, the videos feature actors and models. (Luke Evans is the star of the black-and-white “England Lost” video.) There is no word yet if Jagger will release another solo album.  Jagger has released four solo albums; his most recent solo album of new material was 2001’s “Goddess in the Doorway.”

The Rolling Stones launch their “No Filter” 2017 European Tour on September 9 in Hamburg, Germany. The tour concludes October 25 in Nanterre, France.