Story of the “Orange Vests”
1972 was a very good year for many reasons, but it was a very good year for music.
Music was my life when I was 22. New York was my City, when I was 22. Put the two together and it was a good time to be in a good place.
The Fillmore East was my venue of choice
But in terms of “The Best” there were two concerts at the very top of my list that occurred at Madison Square Garden. I will share with you one of them now. The other, well, you will have to wait and see. (I need you to keep coming back!)
I thought it unusual in 1972 to have a “lottery” in order to buy tickets to a rock & roll concert. But that’s the way this concert was to play out. It was announced on the radio that the Rolling Stones were coming to Madison Square Garden in July 1972 promoting their latest album, Exile On Main Street. In order to win the ‘privilege’ of buying tickets, we all must send in a post card stating name, address, and phone #. If we were lucky enough to have our postcard picked, we had the privilege of standing on line for four hours to purchase no more than four tickets to the concert.
Well, having a lot of spare time on my hands in 1972, I must have mailed in about 50 postcards. And being the savvy person that I was, I used about 6 different names & addresses on those postcards. Names of siblings combined with addresses of relatives and neighbors. Couldn’t get away with that today, but, in the end, I had 4 postcards drawn which allowed me to purchase 16 tickets. I gathered my friends and we went to the garden and claimed (or bought) our tickets. I had a lot of friends all of a sudden! (go figure)
The concert would be held for three nights. I saved myself a ticket for each of the three nights they would perform.
As fate would have it at this same period of time, I was living in a house with 5 or 6 others who had part time jobs at the concession stands of Madison Square Garden. While at work, they would wear a uniform of an “Orange Vest” with the designation “Employee”. This “orange vest” was a free pass, so to speak, to make their way down to the first row of steps (while off duty, of course) and watch for free whichever act was playing that night.
Can you see the conspiracy emerging? I, with 16 Stones tickets, and my friends with access to the coveted “orange vests”. The plan was hatched. For the next three weeks, four of my friends who worked the Garden would “borrow” an orange vest and bring it home, one at a time, until we had a collection of about twelve or so. Then we would wait. Wait until the 24th of July.
We had purchased tickets; so we showed up at the Garden, presented our tickets, found our seats; somewhere up in the nose bleed section. We would then proceed to the ladies (or men’s room) (depending, of course) and slip our coveted “orange vest” out of our purse or in case of the guys (where did you keep those, guys?) and put them on. It was so exhilarating that first night as we walked into the ground floor of the Garden and the “rent-a-cop” showed us down to the first row and said, “you can sit right here, on the first step”. Whoa!!! It worked!!!
Come, Sit with me, Bitch (No, that’s the name of the song!)
Second night…..same scenario. Whoa!! It Worked!!!
By the third night, however, the inmates who were in charge of the asylum finally realized that there was a dire shortage of “orange vests”. Now do you really think that MY friends were the smartest people in NYC and the only ones to think up a diabolical plan as this? The word was out. DO NOT put on the “orange vest” or you will be kicked out (maybe even arrested). Well, we did have tickets and we did have seats. (and had also seen this concert the last two nights) so it was all good.
That night, July 26, 1972, was the last night of the tour and also Mick’s 29th Birthday. Yes, Mick Jagger was once 29. Just like I was once 22!
I was not a huge Stones fan back in the day, but it was the most electrifying performance I have ever seen, to this day. There was a palpable wave of electricity that filled the hall. Walking into the Garden you could feel it, taste it, inhale it.
In my research I found out that the first night of the concert there were 10 arrests and two policemen were injured. Could have fooled me, I was oblivious. Hope they weren’t wearing “orange vests”
I am listing the Tour Set List here because it was listed on Wikepedia. NOT because I remembered it. How good do you think I am?
Brown Sugar; Bitch; Rocks Off; Gimme Shelter; Happy; Tumbling Dice; Love In Vain; Sweet Virginia; Loving Cup; You Can’t Always Get What You Want; All Down The Line; Midnight Rambler; Bye Bye Johnny; Rip This Joint; Jumpin Jack Flash; Street Fighting Man;
Nicky Hopkins was on piano during that tour and Bobby Keys on saxophone.
This video is not very good but I can’t pass up concert footage when I know I was in the audience.
Do you see me?? Do you see me?? I’m the one in the “orange vest”.
This was the night of Mick’s Birthday and the final concert of the tour. I forgot how wild things got. They are actually throwing pies at each other on stage. Those were the days my friend.
This photo I took myself. This is how close I was for at least two out of three nights. The third night found me back in the nose bleed section. But it was all good! Very good!